The Committee

This page is being updated…more names to meet soon…

Miranda Shirnia MBA PCertLAM – Chair for the RWB Arts Festival

I am the overall Chair for the RWB Arts Festival, and I have been involved since the Speech and Drama section was initiated in 2009.

After working for 12 years as a marketing professional in the Computing Industry, I changed my career to become a Speech and Drama Teacher. I have been a LAMDA teacher for 5 years now and teach at three local schools as well as privately in the evenings and at the weekend.

My qualifications include a Post Graduate Diploma in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA). I have also passed my LAMDA Acting and Speaking of Verse and Prose Qualifications to Grade 8 and gained a PCertLAM.

Sandra McDowell LGSM., ALAM., Bronze, Silver & Gold Medallist – Chair for Speech and Drama at RWBAF

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.

Sarah Sumner BA Hons PGCE Middle Years (Music) NPQSL NPQH

Sarah has always been involved in music, playing the piano, oboe, viola and singing.
She has played in different orchestras, including the Gloucestershire Youth and the
University of Birmingham. Sarah has competed in many festivals, including winning
the Senior Modern Classical Trophy at the RWB Music Festival.

Sarah was the Lead Teacher for Primary Music, has delivered Music Teacher
Training and published an article about the importance of music in education. She
has passed Grade 8 Oboe and Theory with Distinction, in addition to the LCM Dip
(Piano) and the ARSM Piano Recital Diploma.

Sarah is the Deputy Head at Westlea Primary School. She is really excited about her
new adventure as the Chair of the Royal Wotton Bassett Music Festival and being
involved in the holistic promotion of music for all ages.

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.

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

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 I am currently working towards 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.

Rosalind Patterson

As my mother was a director for local theatrical productions, I grew up loving drama and the spoken word.  I achieved LAMDA Gold Medals in both the Speaking of Verse & Prose and Acting examinations, and then became a member of the British Actors’ Equity Association.  As a professional actress, I toured with several Theatre-in-Education companies, most notably Interplay Theatre Company, playing Pegeen Mike in Synge’s ‘The Playboy of the Western World.’

I teach privately and I also teach the LAMDA syllabus in a local school.  I am proud to be a part of the Committee for the RWBAF, and am always very happy to see how my pupils enjoy and benefit from entering each year.  I look forward to watching the Festival develop even further in the future.

Amalie Smith BA

I began Speech & Drama lessons many moons ago, with our very own Sandra McDowell, completing my Acting Qualifications to Grade 8 and performing at the Festival myself.  I pursued my other passions of English Literature and History at university, and my work now involves delivering engaging communications and presentations to audiences around the UK.

I am currently working towards my final Speaking of Verse and Prose Qualification (Grade 8) as well as my PCertLAM, prompting a career change that will help me to inspire others to get involved with Speech, Drama and Communication, through private lessons and workshops in schools and businesses.

Madeleine Emerald Thiele MA PCertLAM

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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 am also a LAMDA gold medallist. 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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