Blackburn and Darwen Hive Ambassadors Network


Ian BrownIan Brown until 2020 Ian Brown represented the third generation in the family business of Graham and Brown. In 2012 he received the North West Director award by the IOD and was highly recommended in the national finals for his work in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility in 2013. More recently Ian has led the very successful  Hive Business School initiative. He is also a director of Growth Lancashire and Chair of the Education Partnership Trust.


miranda barker photo 2Miranda Barker is chief executive at the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce. The Chamber lobbies for its members and the wider business community, engages in public-private partnerships for economic regeneration, and provides support services specialising in international trade, purchase & supply, internet services, training and business mentors. Miranda has been involved with Chambers of Commerce for over 20 years and has worked professionally as the owner of an SME, a director within a Plc and an environmental consultant.


Nicola Clayton

Nicola Clayton is director of business development & external engagement at Blackburn College. Founded more than 127 years’ ago, Blackburn College is a unique Educational Institution in that it has Sixth Form provision, extensive Further Education provision and a top rated University Centre; it is a ‘one stop shop’ supporting student progression, attainment and employability, serving the whole community with a full and relevant academic offer in the heartland of Pennine Lancashire.


Mark Lomas 2

Mark Lomas is managing director of Elgra Furniture Consultants Ltd. Having worked for his family business, Lomas Office for over 30 years and helping to transform the business, Mark wanted to branch out on his own and expand his portfolio. He now works on all aspects of office moving and refurbishment including 2D and 3D design, fit out project management and the supply of a wide variety of furniture to produce outstanding workspaces.


Michael Hill

Michael Hill is managing director of Optima Control Solutions Ltd. Located on Capricorn Park in Blackburn, Optima boasts a team of professional engineers providing expert industrial control solutions worldwide. After serving his apprenticeship at Cobble Blackburn Ltd, and subsequently graduating from Manchester University, Michael held positions at Kennedy and Donkin Consulting Engineers (Manchester) and Eurotherm Drives Ltd. (West Sussex) before he and a colleague formed Optima CS and set up in Blackburn in 1995.



Danny Davis is the Head of New Business  for Blackburn Rovers Football Club, Lancashire.

Born and raised in Blackburn, the Red Rose County, he also spent ten years working and living in Tenerife and thanks the hospitality industry for his dedicated work ethic. Working for Blackburn Rovers is an honour for Danny and he enjoys working and supporting his birth town. He was also the main drive to attract Elton John to Ewood Park in June 2017.


Denise Park - Head shotDenise Park is deputy chief executive at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. Denise has worked for the Council for 20 years since it became a unitary authority responsible for all council services in 1998. Her current role is wide-ranging across the Council including lead responsibility for the Council’s Growth Programme, the long term partnership with Capita, and, more recently, relationships with business and other public sector partners. She is also leading the Council’s Digital First strategy and is chair of the Lancashire Property Board overseeing the One Public Estate (OPE) partnership with central government, an asset based approach to public service reform. A CIPFA qualified accountant, Denise’s background is in finance and resource management and she has over 25 years’ local government experience, having previously worked at Lancashire County Council.


Hannah Allen photo

Hannah Allen is the chief executive of Blackburn Youth Zone. Born in Liverpool, from an early age Hannah’s has always had a strong passion about engaging youth and communities to tackle and overcome social challenges to sustain and prosper.

Hannah has extensive experience in successfully involving diverse communities, identifying need and targeting investment in projects that have lasting social change, in a variety of locations. Hannah’s experience has built a strong network nationally and across a variety of sectors including voluntary, statutory, educational, third sector and private sector.

Kara Rose is the owner and MD of award-winning PR and marketing agency, KRPR, with over 20 years’ experience in the industry. Recognised by her peers in the industry, she is proud to sit on many judging panels for the PRCA, the CIPR, The HIVE Business Awards and the UK Public Sector and Communications awards, a position she has retained for the past five years.

Kara has led the team in both the B2C and the B2B sector with clients across Lancashire and the UK itself. Proud of her Lancastrian roots, the agencies experience regionally includes Blackburn with Darwen Hive Business Network, Newground, Barnfield Construction, Petty Chartered Surveyors and Specialised Cleaning Services as well as a plethora of campaigns for Blackburn with Darwen Council and Lancashire County Council (and its district councils) winning awards along the way for the work executed.

The agency has also represented high profile consumer facing brands and household names such as Pork Farms, Wall’s Pastry, Too Good to be Gluten Free, Plaza Premium Lounges, Little Brian and Bio-glitter.


Shahin Akhtar is head of corporate at Curtis Law Solicitors located at Witton Business Park in Blackburn. Curtis Law is an award winning, innovative law firm which offers a comprehensive range of legal services to its clients.

Shahin possesses over 15 years’ experience, she acts for business clientele advising on corporate and commercial work law including company/business acquisitions and disposals; equity fundraising and investment; mergers, re-organisations and restructuring, joint ventures and start-ups.

Over the last two years Shahin has been involved in several transactions where the value of the deal has been several millions of pounds. She is valued for her commercial insight and the ability to deliver practical business solutions to clients.

Shahin has completed a foundation in Business coaching as well as Lancaster Universities Lancashire Forum programme and she is passionate about the growth and prosperity of Lancashire.


Lisa Kennery is a director of the Pierce Group whose specialisms are payroll, HR and Marketing. Pierce is an established business advisory and accountancy group based in Blackburn, Lancashire. Established for over 90 years they have successfully combined the best of tradition with the dynamics required to meet the challenges of the future. There focus is the success of their clients and their people. Pierce provide core accountancy services to help businesses meet those day to day requirements whilst providing added value solutions to assist with strategic business decisions.


Martin Kelly is director of growth & development at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council. Martin leads on the growth and development strategies for the borough and is involved in planning, development management, building control, traffic and transport, property & buildings, carbon management, town centres, business centres and markets.

Email: Martin.Kelly@BLACKBURN.GOV.UK