Connecting Communities Creatively

Explore The Hive's history below with our alumni stories
Katie Jennings

Katie came to the Hive whilst studying Theatre Production at college. Here Katie produced a showreel using the equipment the Hive had available, in the evenings and this showreel got her a place at UWE, Bristol on the Time Based Media course, she specialised in Film and Television.

Following university Katie worked in TV and then moved into working on community commissions. Working with youth groups and the community, through film, became a passion. Katie gained experience working at the Watershed in Bristol and. volunteered for the Arts Officer at Shrewsbury Council. This led Katie to The Hive where she became a Project Manager and now is the CEO.



Aaron Fowler

My journey with The Hive began in 2000 when it was called Belmont Arts Centre. I was employed as an Arts Administrative Assistant, a suitably vague title that had me doing a wide range of activities. Whilst the admin part never took hold, the arts part did. I was able to take part in so many great opportunities and meet so many talented and interesting folk, some of whom are still dear friends to this day. I met the mother of my children there and would not change anything. Such a blessing my family is, that the building at 5 Belmont will always have a significant place in my heart. My arts practice was born out of my experiences working there and I have gone on to have a multidisciplinary work life that has allowed me to see wonderful things and meet fantastic people. I know I am not the only person to get started there and spread my wings out into the creative world.

Di Walton

I set up ShYAN in 1992 to support youth arts in a rural area. We took over Belmont Youth Arts Centre from the Youth Service in 1995 and ran ShYAN and GRR (Grassroots Rhythm music and festivals) from there until 2000.


Barry Tench

Part time youth worker in the 80s before going to college to graduate in youth work.





Maggie Love

I used to attend Youth Club at what is now the HIVE in the 70’s. My family moved into the town centre from Belle Vue, just 10 doors down the street.  That happened in 1970.  I was 11 years old then.

As I was attending dances in most of my free time, finding the Belmont Youth Club where discos and table tennis happened was a great safe place to go, especially in the winter months.

Beyond this, I have no memories and sadly I am not in touch with anyone from my teenage years. I left Shrewsbury in 1976 for London, and eventually California.

Stephanie Kelly

After teaching in a wide range of settings, I started working as a Freelance Artist for The Hive around 13 years ago. Over the years I have seen how The Hive accepts, nurtures, embraces and ignites a spark in many young people. I feel it’s very important to spot the tiniest of shifts and progress in participants as they engage in whatever their individual journey might be. It could be the participant who looks you in the eye for the first time, a young person who asks another if they can work together on a project or someone who is brave enough to share their passion with others.


Nicola Slawson

Nicola came to Belmont Arts Centre as a teen and was part of ShYAN. Inspired by the creative workshops she became involved in, Nicola curated her own exhibition to tell the history of The Hive, or Belmont Arts as it was then. Nicola now works as a freelance news, culture and social affairs journalist, writer and speaker, mainly for the Guardian newspaper. She is the founder of the Single Supplement newsletter and digital community and has recently written a book soon to be launched. Passionate about the arts and The Hive, Nicola joined the board for the charity and focusses on marketing.

William Hughes

William came to the Hive as a teenager in the 90’s, enjoying film nights, getting involved in workshops and making friends. His career spans internship with Twentieth Century Fox in the marketing department, founding his own content production company, working as an editor for a film news and review website, placements with Disney and different areas of Marvel Studios, and now working for Sony Pictures entertainment. His passion for film began at The Hive.



Cerin Mills

In 2000 I became the Advisory teacher for Youth Arts for Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin and part of that role was managing ShYAN – the Shropshire Youth Arts Network. This consisted of several youth theatres across Shropshire, including one at Belmont, and a youth dance group. ShYAN was also a county-wide programme for young people at risk of exclusion from school offering extracurricular youth arts provision in all kinds of art forms – street art, graffiti, metal sculpture, circus skills, filmmaking/editing, street dance and many more.

Also, the year I started in this role I directed the Shropshire Local Authorities Our Town story show in the Millennium Dome. All Local Education Authorities were given a platform and ours involved the county jazz band, youth dance group and county girls choir. The show was threaded together by a narrative written by Neil Rathmell, the county’s Arts Adviser at that time, and my line manager.

So I suppose my story is simple; I was part of the legacy that developed into the Hive and the ethos of supporting Young People’s creativity was, and is, still at the heart of the organisation.

Sue Challis

I was taught video editing from scratch by Belmont manager Martin Sumner who opened the Mac suite to aspiring artists and stayed until late at night & weekends. He was extremely supportive – when I ‘lost’ raw footage for my first paid commission on the Belmont Macs he restored it for me and helped me re-edit. I think this was the early 2000s.

In May 2006 Belmont Media Maker organised for me to have a solo exhibition; video installations at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery, and showed one of my films in the OMH. Around the same time I worked for a year with young people with learning differences producing & showing their videos, and also a residency making work with staff and users for the In Disguise interactive exhibition. Martin supported me in applying to Birmingham Institute of Art and Design to do a BA FA (I went on to do an MA and PhD). I gained a First; nominated for the MAXMARA Women’s Prize by Cornelia Parker 2007 & longlisted. My video work was shown in London, Birmingham, USA & Cairo Film Festival. Incidentally, my teenage son participated in a Belmont Youth Arts video project & went on to do a BTEC Filmmaking course in London.

Poppy Mansfield

My connection with the Hive began back in 2012 when I played the character of Mary in Vested Interest’s first ever production of the ‘Perfect Season’.

Calum Barre

Played a gig here in his 20s and now works as a sound engineer all over the UK at different events but also as part of the Hive team for gigs and events.

Jamila Walker

The space is transformable; cosy, light and airy; noisy; a place for serious exploration. Things growing, evolving, coming and going, ringing with raucous laughter and of course a wide range of creativity and experimentation.

So many people use this county gem in so many varied ways, but for me, there’s also a positive consistency too, a home away from home.

Kirsty Worrow

I first became involved with the Hive (or ShYAN as it was) in the early 90s through Shropshire Drama Centres and later GRR. I learned how to shoot and edit video through project work and spent a funded gap year, during which I travelled to India to make a documentary about Sikhism. Lots of my friends and family have worked for the Hive in its various incarnations, and it’s lovely to still have a connection to the centre.

Andy Mckeown

My first exhibition in 2005, Write Me a Note – participants would write on a post-it note and it was projected, walk past and imagery was triggered. I have since held other light shows and exhibitions at the Hive and as part of our Street Festival.

Sarah Rogers

I was a participant in the youth theatre company (when it was Belmont arts centre) and also attended street dance and break dance classes led by Tamsin Fitzgerald (2faced Dance) at the same time. I think the time frame is about 2001/2, and I attended for a couple of years until I left school.

Zoe Needle

I started working at the Hive when it was Belmont Arts Centre when I moved back to Shropshire from London in about 2002. I worked on a lot of community arts youth projects.

John Morris

I worked there from 1980 until 1991 as a part-time and full-time worker. I have returned since for the Wrestling and private bookings including Peter Pack’s SFS.

Beryl Latter

I am familiar with the building itself, having been a member of the youth centre when I was in my early teens and, working for Shropshire Council’s Youth Service as a youth worker, I was based at the centre when they ran a project for unemployed young people throughout the 1980s. I worked for the Council’s Youth Service for many years and had responsibility for the premises and carried out the inventory and handover when the Council’s Youth Service gave up the building.

When it was a youth centre, it was one of the first the Council established and, I am fairly sure, Jim Knight designed it. Jim was the County Youth Officer at the time and an architect before he took up youth work. He designed most of the youth centres in the County in the early 60’s and his policy was to create buildings which needed little maintenance which is why there are hard floors and wood coverings on walls and ceilings. During my time, I belonged to the Girls’ Group which ran on a Friday night – I think the name of the youth worker was Pauline Spilsbury. Her boss was Tony Padfield who was responsible for the centre. There was also an Explorers’ Group for the boys. The room directly to the left of the boys’ toilets could only be accessed through the loos so the girls couldn’t go in there. A door has since been put in. Later a Folk Group was set up and quite of few of us learnt to play the guitar. It was very popular in the 60’s and eventually outgrew the front room at Belmont. Many of the regular members were becoming too old for the centre and the Folk Group moved to the upstairs room at the Old Post Office pub and became Shrewsbury Folk Club. It flourished for many years and may still be going!

Other Youth Workers who had responsibility for the building and the work undertaken there included Keith Riley, Brian Kemp, Sara Eade and Lynne Keogh who was the last worker the Council had based in the centre. I think John Morris was also based there for a while. Brian was very keen on canoeing and the cellar was used to make and maintain fibreglass canoes which he used with groups of young people from all over the County. Lynne redesigned the interior of the building to update it and completely renovated the courtyard shortly before the Youth Service gave it up. Lynne installed the raked seating in the hall which had, until then, been used for sport only. Shirley Davies was the clerk at Belmont for many years.

Eric Heath

Back in the late 2000s, I could often be found in the video editing suite of the Belmont Art Centre (now The Hive), slowly piecing together videos from old Hi-8 tape, practicing the skills that I use to this day. This was a time when technology still was pretty limited – every time I applied an effect or a transition in Final Cut that most people take for granted these days, I’d go and make a cup of tea and come back 5 minutes later to see if it worked. If it didn’t, which was often, I’d have to try again.

I came to this a little late – what most kids can do in seconds on their phones or tablets – simply didn’t exist, and I had come through school and college with little chance to use computers or professional editing equipment for anything other than administrative purposes. I was in my early 20s, a time when little is directed at people wanting to learn new skills, and I found The Hive a friendly, welcoming and non-judgemental environment. I was just ‘Eric’, scrunching his hair up as yet another edit didn’t *quite* work.

Spaces like these, where creativity is supported and encouraged, are thin on the ground, and remarkably important to the fabric of our local areas. As a charity, The Hive let me learn at my own pace, encouraged me to take part in exhibitions and try out new and sometimes quite strange techniques (broadcasting sound through small FM transmitters has become a little bit more than a hobby!)

Even now, I record music, much as I did when I first started out, on a very limited laptop and edit video and design releases for my tiny record label – Plenty Wenlock Records – on a notably faster, albeit still refurbished machine. Professional equipment doesn’t come cheap. Being able to learn the basics, make mistakes and invariably bend the ear of my long-suffering friend Emma, while using software and equipment that simply wasn’t available to your average 20-something has lead me to record music videos for friends and contemporaries. It has helped with creating promotional materials and short video clips for my label, and eventually dip into the world of graphic design. This in particular is invaluable when putting together designs for our releases, and supporting the charitable group that I have co-run which is now celebrating its 20th year – ‘Shropshire Autonomy’.

A little seed, given enough time to grow, can grow into a sturdy tree. Charities such as The Hive, are the roots that keep places like Shrewsbury, together.

Lisa Morris

I have been working with Shropshire Youth Theatre since we migrated our operations to The Hive. It was quite some time ago now, maybe 2009? Before then I was a student of Shropshire Youth Theatre, but we did not rehearse at The Hive then. We eventually did absorb the youth theatre group that operated out of what was known by us as 5 Belmont (though I think some just called it Belmont, or even still ShYAN), and became a much larger group. We used to do film schools in the summer holidays.

I have been an associate artist for The Hive since 2013, running summer workshops for young people. SYT still rehearses there every Thursday and Saturday in term time, now with our new Beginner group.

Caladonia Walton

My mum Diana Walton used to run ShYAN and I attended drama classes weekly with Cerin Richards. I also attended a residency dance workshop with Blue Eyed Soul Dance Company, and presented my dance work Weight/Wait there in 2018. I think I was about 6 years old when I first came to ShYAN when my mum was working there. I was around 8 years old when I started taking classes and half-term workshops with Cerin. I used to go weekly until about 12/13.

I live in London now, but my parents still live in Shrewsbury and I come back often.




Tim Kong

Maths background. I wanted to work in the arts and build up a portfolio, so came to Life Drawing classes in 2002 for about a year and then went on to study Illustration. Now just started working full time in the industry.

Lynne Keogh

Early 90s – Youth worker, possibly then management, wanted to turn it into an arts centre. Now retired and in London, Lynne worked full time with Keith and she supported especially vulnerable young people and was instrumental in turning 5 Belmont into a young people’s arts centre called Artscape.

Sue and Roger Drummond

Visited The Hive since they were young. Involved in folk scene now.

Pete Allford

Came to Wyle Cop Youth Club (16-21) when he was 20 in the 1950s. He is 92 now!

Callum Goodwilliam

I worked at the Hive in various capacities from around 2008 to 2013 as a workshop facilitator primarily for theatre, music and filmmaking programs. In that time I also ran an improv theatre company that was based out of the Hive and played a few gigs there too! I now live in Spain and work in the Learning and Development department for Shopify.

Heather Hughes

Started on Connect-Create project around October 2015 for armed forces families when first arriving in Shropshire, then Diverse Sounds, a few other workshops, then a bit of volunteering in sixth form.





Ronan Harvey

My time at Belmont and The Hive was important in my life. First attending workshops before doing an apprenticeship there and leading workshops and teaching DJing, music production as well as video and media.


Shaun Hughes

I found it quite … to see the youth service trips we went on. The service users gained confidence on the trips abroad, as for many they were opportunities to experience new cultures and meet people from other countries. In many ways, it added to their personal development which is a good thing.

Ben Davies

Back when I was just 13 years old I had the dream to set up my own theatre company. It was ambitious at my age but I was so determined. I needed to find a venue to rehearse at. I was turned away from quite a few venues due to my age, but Ellen at the Hive saw something in me and let us use hire the space. Completely clueless about how to do this, Ellen guided my way through and helped in any way she could. I am forever grateful to the Hive for giving me that starting block and believing in me. I still run ‘Curtain Call Theatre Company Shrewsbury’ to this day! So I thank you for everything.

Ellen Green

First came here when studying Btech in Performing Arts, my interests were in backstage, video production and stage management. Came to Belmont Arts Centre often as part of a college course. I got the opportunity to do Video Production here along with Katie, which I very much enjoyed. I made friends and am still in touch with others now. I went to Uni and did Film, Media and Production studies. I worked at an Arts Centre in Cardiff, Grass Roots, similar to the Hive. I volunteered here at The Hive and then became Duty Manager, followed by Volunteer Coordinator and now work as Venue Manager alongside youth work at the Youth café sessions.