The Committee

Chair for the RWB Arts Festival – position now vacant.

Miranda Shirnia has been the overall Chair for the RWB Arts Festival for the last two years, and with us for thirteen, but is now stepping down to pursue some life-long ambitions. We wish her well, and thank her for the years she has dedicated to the Festival. As such, we are looking to fill this role, and we seek a new Festival Chair. Do come and work with us in this exciting Festival! More details can be found here.

Music Chair – position now vacant.

We are also looking for a Music Chair, due to our most recent Chair having undertaken a more demanding professional role up. More details can be found here.

Sandra McDowell LGSM., ALAM., Bronze, Silver & Gold Medallist – Chair for Speech and Drama at RWB Arts Festival, and Musical Theatre Chair

I have always loved literature and the spoken word. I commenced my own Studio of Speech and Drama in 1982, having qualified long before that, originally working in schools.  I have been a Committee Member of the Mid-Somerset Festival in Bath for over 30 years, and subsequently was Chair of the Speech & Drama Section for five years.  Together with a small team I helped to create the Wootton Bassett Arts Festival in 2009, which very swiftly became affiliated to BIFF. In 2014 we were given the honour of the title of Royal. I have been an Examiner for LAMDA since 2000, travelling all over the UK. My joy is seeing young people achieve and excel, to help their self-esteem and confidence, and to enrich them for a valuable future.

Tracy Cuthbert – Chair for Dance at RWB Arts Festival

I am the chair of the Dance Section at the RWB Arts Festival. Although I am relatively new to this side of the festival, my daughter has been taking part for quite a few years now.
Performing is also a big part of my life; I danced for many, many years at Tanwood School for Performing Arts in Swindon, performing in professional pantomimes, shows and festivals. I currently sing with Ten in a Bar, and our range of music is vast: from 1940s jazz to pop songs to contemporary classical music. We perform annually at the Arts Centre each February and we are regularly booked to sing at weddings and concerts in various venues throughout Wiltshire and beyond.

I am really looking forward to seeing you all at our first ever Dance Section (2021).

Lucy Barbour LLAM and ALAM, LAMDA Acting Diploma and LAMDA Teaching Diploma Qualified

I have experience in running drama workshops and I have assisted on the Mid-Somerset Festival committee previously. Having enjoyed Speech and Drama throughout my childhood, gaining the highest qualifications and performing in festivals from the age of 6, I am enthusiastic to be a part of the RWB Arts Festival committee and help this wonderful festival be enjoyed by all.

Lorna Davies (MA Hons)

Following a degree in Music and German from the University of Glasgow and a role in managerial administration, I am now a peripatetic music teacher. I teach piano and keyboard in schools in and around Swindon through the Swindon Music Co-op. As well as giving individual piano lessons, I have taught recorder groups and mixed instrument ensembles that have performed at a variety of local events. I feel it is important for young musicians to be encouraged to perform and have local opportunities to do so. I am delighted to be a member of the RWB Arts Festival committee, and to be able to contribute to music in the local area.

Sandra Dukes

I originally worked in London as a PA, but since moving to Cirencester 35 years ago, I have pursued my passion for the guitar by teaching at local primary and secondary schools.       In 1999 I formed the Corinium Players Guitar Ensemble to encourage young classical guitarists to perform together.  The Group has now over 30 players aged 8-18 from around the Cotswolds and they have been on tour to Germany and Holland.

I am secretary to the Trustees for the charity Guitar Circus and Festival Director for the World Youth Guitar Festival, a biennial residential course.  This charity also manages the National Youth Guitar Ensemble.

Sheila Dunn

I am the Music Treasurer. I have been singing from a very early age and still sing now. I learnt my stage art from belonging to the following societies: S.A.L.O.S. Gilbert & Sullivan society, Highworth Amateur Drama Society and W.B.L.O.S. who I have the honour of being their President. I have been with the RWB Arts Festival from its conception when it was a ‘one man band’ under the baton of Brian Taylor. I was asked to ‘help out’, and I have been ‘helping out’ every since! Long may this Festival run in helping the very talented students and young adults in their singing career’s.

Lara Farahar BSc Honours PGCE

I run my own business teaching Speech and Drama and I am also a qualified LAMDA examiner.

I have been a primary school teacher for eighteen years and have always tried to hard to incorporate speech and drama in to my teaching. I am passionate about international education and have taught in different countries, always encouraging the use of the creative arts.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to be involved in the RWB Arts Festival which I believe has such a positive impact on children.

Jackie Lawrence BA PCertLAM

Having spent many years working as a broadcast journalist and public relations specialist, I decided to change my career and use my experience and love of drama to help children build confidence in presenting themselves in public. I am now a speech and drama teacher and work with children both in schools and privately. I have a degree in English and Drama from Goldsmith’s College, University of London, A level Drama and the LAMDA PCertLAM. Growing up, I spent much of my youth rehearsing for plays, preparing for speech and drama exams and entering festivals! I learned so much through my own experience that I am absolutely delighted to be helping with the RWB Arts Festival.

Dr. Liz Howells OBE

I am a clinical psychologist, and the highlight of my career has been the implementation of an innovative service model to help improve the mental health processes within and around Swindon: for which I was honoured to receive an OBE. I have been a long-serving member of the RWB Arts Festival committee and I am very interested in the arts.

Madeleine Emerald Thiele MA PCertLAM

I am an art historian by nature and profession, with a passion and a background in English Literature, and Speech and Drama. I undertook many exams in LAMDA in my youth, and competed in the Longwell Green Eisteddfod and the Mid-Somerset Festival where I was variously successful. Having undertaken a BA many years ago, where I focused on Jacobean theatre, and watched many a play, I am now delighted to return more formally to Speech and Drama to assist in the ongoing creation of this wonderful Festival.

Lisa Williams LTCL (Mus Ed)


I am the Vice Chair for the Music side of the Festival and I have been the Festival’s Safeguarding Officer for 2 years. I am responsible for ensuring child safeguarding at all RWBAF events and I’m NSPCC trained in Child Protection. I am also a member of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, a first study pianist, and choir director. I am currently studying for an MA in Music Therapy at the University of the West of England.

Rhian Vaughan

I’m a professional drama teacher with experience in festivals and exams, both as a student and as a teacher. I have a PCertLAM, and I teach in performing arts schools working with students of varying ages and run my own school holiday musical theatre workshops. As a child I worked professionally in stage and television, and in my adult working life I have numerous years of experience in Special Education. I am passionate about the arts and bringing out every child’s potential through the skills gained in drama and performance.

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