Dad-of-two is Lancaster memorial’s shining light in dark times

Brent Lees. Photo by Fiona Kennaugh.
Brent Lees. Photo by Fiona Kennaugh.
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The man behind the illumination of the Ashton Memorial is putting in many hours of his own time in a bid to raise awareness of worthy causes.

Dad-of-two Brent Lees operates the service alongside his business BCL Lighting Design and his role as tech manager at The Dukes.

Photo by Fiona Kennaugh.

Photo by Fiona Kennaugh.

Originally from Rochdale, Brent has had an interest in the technical side of theatre and film since being at school.

He went via college into theatre at the Royal Exchange, and worked in various Manchester area venues as lighting and sound technician.

As tech manager at the Dukes Theatre, Brent and his team look after all aspects of lighting and sound at the busy venue.

In 2013, following on from two commissions to design lighting installations in local schools, BCL Lighting Design was set up.

Brent’s first illuminated work of the Ashton Memorial was to highlight pancreatic cancer. It was originally to be a one-off but was so popular that a number of illuminated memorials to highlight charity causes have followed.

This year in March it was blue for Neuro Drop in, and just after that it turned blue and yellow for Downs Syndrome, and then during Parkinson’s awareness week in April it was cyan and white for Parkinson’s UK.

Behind the scenes it’s tricky and time consuming work, particularly in high winds and during the winter months. The memorial is usually illuminated between two and seven nights for each charity, depending on the weather conditions and the elements in winter.

An initial set-up takes two days. The Parkinson’s event used 34 floodlights, 12 in white and 22 in cyan.

There are LED floodlights and spotlights strategically placed high up around the building; on average it takes two hours to change from one charity’s colours to another.

Brent uses LED spotlights and ordinary spotlights covered in coloured film, which he buys from technicians’ suppliers and cuts to size.

And he does all this in aid of the charities in his spare time.

Brent also works closely with other organisations in the region, such as St John’s Hospice and Morecambe BID, where he managed the searchlight beams that shone across the bay during the Christmas festival, and off the top of the dome of the Ashton Memorial for Light up Lancaster.

Brent has lit up the trees at Asda and designed lighting installations for Light up Lancaster, the Dukes’ Play in the Park productions and the St John’s Hospice moonlight walks.