Meet the

Vita Nova Team

Dr Sharon Muiruri Coyne

Artistic Director

Using drama to give a voice to the unheard.

Sharon founded the organisation along with a small group of recovering addicts in 1999. Originally a short project emerging from Bournemouth Theatre in Education (BTIE), Vita Nova has become over the years a well-established, nationally known community theatre group. 

After a long break, Sharon returned to Vita Nova in 2018.

During her time away from Vita Nova she continued as co-director of BTIE and was Artistic Director of The Poole Passion (2008-2018). Sharon also lectured at Winchester University in Applied Drama and Theatre in Education. 

Her work has always been involved with marginalised groups, social justice and inclusion. Sharon sees theatre as a way of celebrating those who are often overlooked.

She is an applied theatre practitioner and playwright, artistic director of Surya Arts (Asian TIE company) www and theatre officer for National Drama 

Her thesis, Theatre for the Lost and Found, describes her journey in the field of applied theatre. 


Amelia Thorpe

Arts Administrator and Marketing Officer

Alongside Dani, Amelia works as an Arts Administrator and Marketing Officer for Vita Nova. 

Amelia is a spirited creative, interested in a plethora of artistic mediums, including singing, physical theatre, voice-over, and devised theatre. 

‘I feel like Vita Nova filled a place in my heart that I didn’t know needed filling. Being part of a community that provides a safe, creative space for those that society is often too quick to disregard, and abandon is the most heart-warming part of the job for me; I’ve connected with some incredible personalities and have seen some of the most vulnerable individuals flourish into beautiful souls after coming to Vita Nova. That’s what it’s all about really, giving everyone a chance to live the life they truly deserve’.

Dani Nowokunska

Arts Administrator and Marketing Officer

Dani is the Arts Administrator and Marketing Officer for Vita Nova, responsible for providing administrative and marketing assistance to the Artistic Director. 

A long-term resident of Boscombe, joining Vita Nova in May 2021. 

Dani is also an artist, performer, and storyteller, creating work around themes of social justice, culture, and mythology. 

‘I am very proud of my community, the care and solidarity that exists within it. Nobody deserves to be left behind. Vita Nova is a vital service that prevents the ‘revolving door’ of addiction. It is a form of restorative harm reduction that answers the challenges faced by society, contributing to the safety, security, and well-being of all. I’m proud to be a part of an organisation that supports individual lives, reduces stigma around addiction, and helps to empower our community as a whole’.  


Brian Swann

Martin Hancock

Martin is the Chief Executive of BCHA a charitable organisation, working together to help people build better lives, better homes, and better communities to end homelessness and wherever possible provide longer term housing and employment.

Living in Bournemouth, Martin has been involved with Vita Nova since July 2015 when asked along with some other Trustees associated with BCHA to help Vita Nova when facing some changes to its Board and pressures on funding. Martin had been to several Vita Nova performances and events for many years previous to his Trustee involvement so well aware and committed to the work it is doing.

It’s so inspirational hearing and seeing the variety of creative writing, art and drama and the positive impact Vita Nova has on so many people’s lives both past and present. I have always believed there is considerable potential in everyone, and we just need to realise it in both aspects, and Vita Nova enables that to happen.

Paul Allen

Paul Allen is a visiting tutor at Arts University Bournemouth and University of the West of England. He was Course Leader Photography at University Centre Colchester having taught photographic theory and practice at AUB and been Director of Contextual Studies for the School of Visual Communication at Birmingham City University. He is also studying psychotherapy and working as a life coach and counsellor.


He studied documentary photography at Newport and visual sociology at Goldsmiths and has had his work published in a number of national publications and exhibited in solo and group shows. He also drums in an experimental music group. 


Having recently become a Trustee, he is delighted to be working with everyone at Vita Nova and, having been an Art Centre Development Officer, back in community arts. 

Paul Dyer

Associate Artists

Martin Coyne

Martin is an award-winning artist, film maker and photographer. Having begun his practice learning mechanical and chemical based processes he went on to be an early adopter of digital technology. This breadth and depth of knowledge has led him to value the creation of virtual art works but also to have a deep respect for the talismanic nature of the singular, created object and the alchemical qualities of the ephemeral and performative. In his role as Senior Lecturer at Arts University Bournemouth he keeps students in formed on the evolutions within contemporary practice at both technical and conceptual levels. He sees his own work as a form of divination, using its processes to navigate inner and outer territories and encourages others to do the same.

Mark D Lloyd

Mark David Lloyd is a British contemporary artist who exhibits internationally. He works predominantly in painting but also in other disciplines. His career began as a graffiti artist in the mid 1980s. He went on to study fine art at Falmouth School of Art, the Slade School of Fine Art, and Winchester School of Art. His work has been described as: meta-modernist, post post-modernist, and nascent. He is a lecturer in Research & Fine Art at Bournemouth University. He’s had a connection with Vita Nova for many years, producing artwork and mentoring participants. 

Maike Helmers

Maike originally trained as a picture and sound editor within the BBC’s film department in London. She was actively engaged in programme-making processes across the corporation’s film and television output, working on dramas, documentaries, current affairs, community programmes as well as music & arts projects. After a decade at the BBC, she decided to re-locate to the south coast, joining the academic staff at the Media School within Bournemouth University. Maike was instrumental in setting up the highly innovative specialist post-graduate degree in sound design, the first of its kind at MA level. Her PhD thesis engaged with the narrative and emotive potential of sound design, within the context of a medium in transition. After over two decades as a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader, Maike left the university in order to re-focus on her own creative practice and she is excited to be able to share her enthusiasm and experience in sound design within Vita Nova.

John Nicholas

Jon studied Psychology at The University of South Wales and Acting at The Webber Douglas Academy in London. In 1995 he joined Geese Theatre UK who provide interactive creative performance work with and for offenders. Following on from this he further developed a career as a community theatre facilitator and worked with groups and individuals exploring issues around personal and group conflict. He has been engaged as a freelance facilitator to design and deliver interactive conflict management training for NGOs and community development organisations including, Save The Children, Wolf and Water Arts Company in Devon, the Centre For Conflict Management in Oslo, The Nansen Dialogue Network in Norway and The former Yugoslavia, The Danish refugee Council and Cardboard Citizen. He is currently a senior associate at The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation.

Jon is a guest director at The Jellicoe Theatre and divides his time between theatre and community development work frequently combining the two.

Ted Street

Ted Street has wide-ranging experience in corporate communications as a freelance  writer, producer and director working on a diverse range of subjects for national and  international companies. He has worked in higher education providing technical support  and supervision to undergraduates on location drama and documentary, also location  filming and post production for the RSC and educational programmes for the Consortium  for Drama and Media in Higher Education. Audio-visual experience includes location  sound recording, theatre sound and lighting, and music recording studio installation. He  was co-founding director and former Executive Producer of new-writing theatre company  Doppelganger Productions. He now works in theatre in education with Surya Arts as tour  manager and lighting, sound and digital projection technician on tour. In 2014, Sharon  (Muiruri) Coyne invited him to work with people in recovery from alcohol and drug misuse  at Action on Addiction then Vita Nova.


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