Board of Trustees

Lauren Barkes-Nickolds (Chair)

Lauren is the Programme & Community Engagement Coordinator for Derby Theatre, leading on programming shows into the Studio Theatre, championing Equality & Diversity in the building and community engagement opportunities including a community ambassador scheme. She has worked at Derby Theatre for over 7 years and fulfilled many different roles, including; Usher, Box Office Assistant, Marketing Assistant, Youth Theatre Assistant and Production Assistant. She is also on the board of trustees for Nonsuch, a Nottingham based Theatre company and venue.


Lauren grew up in Derbyshire, only moving away for three years to study her BA Hons Drama Degree at Huddersfield University, she is proud to be from the East Midloands. She is hearing and has a BSL level 3 qualification and hopes to go on to study her BSL level 4 at the end of this year.


During Derby Signfest week she is most excited about meeting new people and seeing the beautiful language of British Sign Language take centre stage across Derby. She is also really excited about the Deaf Quiz Saturday evening, she loves a quiz, although admits she isn't very good at them. 

Alison Jones

Chief Executive Officer for Communication Unlimited.  A charity with a 30 year history of providing Sign Language interpreting services in Derby and Derbyshire.  Communication Unlimited also provides bespoke Deaf Awareness training and work with many organisations to provide the Deaf community's voice and to improve their engagements/ services with the Deaf community.


Alison is Derby born, bred and proud despite not being a Derby County supporter, Tottenham Hotspur is my team. Alison is an active member of Derby Deaf community, she has been a volunteer in Derby Deaf Forum and represented the views of Deaf residents of Derby for many years.   She has built up a strong network within the voluntary and public services in order to improve services for Deaf people.   Alison is an active member of a variety of Equality and Diversity forums plus is a school governor for the Royal Deaf School, Derby.


Alison has been the driving force when it came to the initial idea of Signfest. Alison is proud of her Deaf heritage and wants others to see how Deaf people from Derby have been under represented.  There are many historical Deaf links to the city which we will showcase as part of Signfest.  Alison is looking forward to celebrating British Sign Language and raising the profile of Deaf people from the city of Derby and beyond. 

Elizabeth Corbett

Elizabeth has been an Education Assistant at Royal School for the Deaf, Derby, for 17 years. 

Born in Portsmouth, she then moved to Derby when she was 16 to attend Derby College for Deaf People, which sadly has now closed. Following college she went to Derby University to study BA Hons in Textile Design where she met her husband and from then on Derby became her home. She loves living in Derby, as a Deaf person it is such an accessible city, a lot of Deaf awareness and fantastic Interpreter services.

Elizabeth wants Derby to shout loud and proud about Deaf people and their achievements. There are so many positive Deaf role models including Deaf Olympians, TV presenters, teachers, actors, councillors and more. She wants Deaf children to know about them and realise they can do anything, which Derby Signfest is going to help to achieve. She is also excited to share these achievements with the hearing community and encourage them to share our pride.

Donna Mullings 

Donna is a professional actress and presenter, and is a native BSL user. She was born in Birmingham, but has been living in Derby now for a number of years. Donna has been performing for 15 years and is more famously known for being a presenter in CBeebies 'Magic Hands' and many theatre productions across the UK. 

Paul Hezelgrave

Paul Hezelgrave is a Labour Councillor for Abbey Ward on Derby City Council. He is currently the Shadow Cabinet Member for Children & Young People and serves on the Children & Young People Scrutiny and Review Board. He is also the link member of the City Council's Deaf & Hearing Impaired Commitment Working Group.

Paul is a retired teacher and worked in secondary schools teaching French and Russian. His post on retirement was Director of Modern languages. He took up his first teaching job in Derby in 1977 and has lived in the city ever since.

Paul has had a lifelong commitment to public service and work in the community, having been a school Governor in many different schools for over 30 years. He was also until recently a Director at Derby Skillbuild. He is a Trustee at Bramblebrook Community Centre in Abbey Ward and was instrumental in relaunching Bramblebrook about five years ago. It continues to thrive in the toughest of times.

Paul is quite excited at the opportunities Signfest will bring to strengthening the bridges between the hearing and non-hearing and highlighting that Culture and Leisure can be accessible to all. He is most looking forward to the signed performance of One Man, Two Guvnors at Derby Theatre.

  • White Facebook Icon
  • Twitter Clean