Our Team

Tom Besford – Chief Executive

Tom has worked on English Folk Expo since its inception, including pilot event in 2012. From January 2018 he has taken on the newly created role of Chief Executive Officer, overseeing all aspects of production, financial management and governance of English Folk Expo. Prior to this, Tom’s role was the Delegates & Events Manager, overseeing the operations management of the conference, including all staff and venue logistics liaison and event staff recruitment, and being primary point of contact for delegates. This sat alongside his other role, as Head of Culture at Link4Life, Rochdale Borough Council’s Cultural Trust, with responsibility for cultural strategy and management of the Arts & Heritage Service including museums, galleries and venues. Tom’s other previous experience includes Head of Artist Liaison for Manchester International Festival, Event Manager at the Royal Northern College of Music, and Event Coordinator at Sage Gateshead. He has also been Chair of both the Greater Manchester and Rochdale Borough Museums Groups. Tom is an avid and accomplished folk musician, dancer and educator and is voluntary Director of Todmorden Folk Festival.

Terry O’Brien – Founder & Sales Director

Terry came up with the concept of EFEx, inspired by the success of Showcase Scotland, the equivalent event for Scottish folk, roots, and acoustic music, held in partnership with Celtic Connections. From January 2018, Terry has taken a step back from leading English Folk Expo into the new role of Sales Director where she will lead on delegate sales, international partnership cultivation and selling advertising, trade stands and other sponsorship opportunities. In addition to working on English Folk Expo, Terry is the owner of Playpen Management and Agency, representing a roster of successful folk artists, and managing international touring and special projects. She has led on projects funded by ACE, Creative Scotland, PRSF and EFDSS. Alongside the agency she has worked as an A&R consultant for One Little Indian Records, run her own imprint label Unearthed Records, and she produced the 5000 Morris Men weekend event at the Southbank Centre. Prior to setting up Playpen, Terry worked as assistant to Peter Jenner at Sincere Management, specifically managing the day-to-day career of Eddie Reader, as well as working with Billy Bragg and Sarah-Jane Morris.

Keith Harris OBE – Board Member

Keith began work in the record industry in 1974 at a small independent UK label called Transatlantic records. In 1976 he joined EMI Records where he initially worked for several in-house EMI labels in the promotions department. These labels included Rocket where he worked on the Elton John album ‘Blue Moves’, Fantasy, Ariola and EMI International. He then joined Motown which was an EMI licensed label. During his period at the label he worked with artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, The Commodores, Rick James, The Supremes, Thelma Houston and Stevie Wonder. He left Motown in 1978 and moved to Los Angeles to work with Stevie Wonder and became Operations Manager for Stevie’s companies. On his return to the UK in 1982 he formed his own management company and has been involved in the management of various UK based artists since. He has managed Junior Giscombe, Junior Tucker, Paul Johnson & Omar. Keith also managed the late Lynden David Hall and still represents Stevie Wonder. He currently Chairs the Equality and Diversity Taskforce for the Music Industry through UK Music. He is a Consultant on Performer Affairs for PPL and is a Senior Fellow of the University of Westminster school of music film and fashion where he has Lectured since 1993 receiving an Honorary Doctorate in 2007. He received the Music Industry Champion Award at the Artists and Managers Awards Ceremony in 2014.

Richard Haswell – Board Member

Richard was born and educated on Merseyside and educated in Liverpool, California and the University of Leeds. He is a former Director of The Met Arts Centre, Bury, Phoenix Arts Leicester, and De Montfort Hall Leicester and was the founding Co-Director of both the Summer Sundae Weekender (Best Small Festival UK Festival Awards 2006) and the Big Session Festivals, and of the Music Beyond Mainstream touring network. In 2000 he led Leicester’s seven stage participation in BBC Music Live, and in 2001 event managed ‘One Big Sunday‘ for BBC Radio 1 with 80,000 attenders. He has been at Liverpool Philharmonic since 2011, and is currently Head of Programme (Hall and Events) with responsibility for both the 1600 capacity hall and from 2015 onwards, the 250 capacity Music Room. In 2017 he co-produced and organised the national tour of ‘It Was 50 Years Ago Today’ a collaboration between the RLPO and Bootleg Beatles to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the Sgt Pepper album, and in association with the University of Liverpool co-produced ‘George Harrison; The Story of the Beatles and Indian Music’.

Mark McGreevy OBE – Board Member

Mark is the Group Chief Executive of Depaul International, which oversees and co-ordinates the activities of a group of DePaul charities operating in the UK, Ireland, Slovakia, Ukraine, France, Croatia and the USA and providing services for over 22,000 homeless people per annum. Mark joined DePaul in February 1990 as one of the first employees of the charity and has been directly responsible for all of its growth to date. In addition to his work at DePaul International Mark is the founder of The Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH) in 2012 based in Chicago, which is a partnership between Depaul International and DePaul University. IGH is the first organization to focus on homelessness as a global phenomenon with an emphasis on those who are living on the street or in emergency shelters. The IGH staff and Advisory Committee work with a broad network of world-class advisors, experts, and organizations — balancing geographies, cultures, and skills. He is an Honorary Fellow of Leeds Trinity University.

Phil Richardson – Board Member

Phil is a Partner at Stephensons Solicitors and has been the employment law team leader since 2008. He studied law at Lancaster University, spending a year abroad studying law and German at Trier University in Germany. Phil represents companies, charities and other organisations advising on contentious and non-contentious issues.

Estelle Rowe – Board Member

Estelle is a qualified accountant, specialising in strategic business planning, financial sustainability and entrepreneurial start-ups. As a senior executive, she has experience across charity, local government and education sectors. She is also the co-founder and owner of two family businesses. Estelle has held a number of trustee and non-executive director roles including, most recently, positions as Group Vice Chair of First Ark Group (Property and Social Investment), and Treasurer of Involve (national democratic think-tank). Estelle is currently channelling her life-long passion for live music and the arts into Rochdale Borough Wide Cultural Trust, where she is Director of Finance and Company Secretary.

Melanie Scheys – Board Member

Melanie was coordinator of the Dranouter music centre and head organiser and programmer for Gooikoorts Folk Festival 5 years. She played an important role in the development of the Flemish Folk Forum, supporting flemish folk artists; and made the Flanders international partnership at English Folk Expo in 2016 possible. Today she works freelance for several organisations.

Gavin Sharp – Board Member

Gavin has worked in the independent music sector for all of his adult life. A graduate of University College Salford, Gavin began his career as a professional musician and promoter, organising concerts and tours which led to performances across the world, including North and South America, Europe and the Far East, with the underground Manchester roots reggae band ‘Edward II’. Gavin signed his first record deal with ‘Cooking Vinyl’ (UK) and ‘Rhythm Safari (US) at the age of 21 and spent most of his twenties touring and recording. After 10 years he moved into professional programming (booking) and promoting, working for The Brewery in Kendal for 5 years before moving to Liverpool Philharmonic Hall for three years, which took in the Liverpool Capital of Culture. He has been CEO at Inner City Music (Band on the Wall) for seven years and has overseen a considerable expansion of the organisation, most notably as a national concert promoter, working in venues up to two thousand capacity.

Kathryn Tickell OBE – Board Member

Kathryn is the foremost exponent of the Northumbrian pipes, a composer, performer and educator whose work is deeply rooted in the landscape and people of Northumbria. She has released 14 albums as well as collaborating with Sting, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, The Chieftains and many more. She lectures in Folk & Traditional Music at Newcastle University and is a presenter for BBC Radio 3. Kathryn is deeply committed to working with young musicians and is the founder of The Young Musicians Fund, which has raised over £100,000 to provide opportunities for young people in the North East of England. In 2009 she was presented with The Queen’s Medal for Music, awarded to those deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to British music.

 

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