People on the Move: Halton Chamber; Royal Town Planning Institute; InSkin; Mint Bridging; GC Business Finance

From left: Robin Tudor, Val Allen, Peter Cook, Lynn Pegler
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Halton Chamber of Commerce and Enterprise appointed a new chair at its AGM this week.

Taking over as the new voice for Halton business is Val Allen, former Chamber vice chair, Cheshire Deputy Lieutenant and director of Widnes firm General Welding Supplies.

She steps up to the helm after the retirement of Dr Peter Cook who has led the Chamber for eight years. He will continue as a Chamber board director and leader of the group’s Science and Manufacturing Network.

Val will be joined in the executive group by two vice chairs – Robin Tudor, from Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Lynn Pegler, Cheshire Deputy Lieutenant and director of PR consultancy Pegler Communications.

Also re-elected for a further term as board members were Sauren Gosh (Utility Warehouse), Edwin Santley (ESL Electromech) and Mark Downing (BASF).

Rachael Owen, Halton Chamber chief executive, welcomed Val and the new team and paid tribute to Dr Peter Cook.

She said: “Peter has been a great ambassador for business and a towering force for good within Halton.

He has made a significant contribution to the development of the Chamber, providing exceptional business knowledge and acumen, combined with endless enthusiasm.

“During his time as chair, Peter has coached and mentored a range of businesses, including social enterprises and start-ups, providing valuable insight and practical solutions for all.

“He has helped to oversee the growth and popularity of the Halton Business Awards, now in its 10th year, initiated a new science and manufacturing network, and always gives generously of his time, skills and expertise. We are delighted he will continue as a board member next year.”

Val Allen said she was looking forward to building on Peter’s excellent legacy: “The Chamber will continue to support our local business community with vital services to help them thrive in today’s challenging economic climate,” she said.

“Our aim is to champion Halton’s successful research and development, and science and manufacturing capabilities to the rest of the UK and around the world.”


The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has appointed GVA HOW Planning’s Andrew Johnston as RTPI North West Chair 2019, while Gary Halman has received a fellowship from the organisation, acknowledging his many professional achievements in planning.

Andrew will be continuing the work of current chair Bob Philips, to plan a packed year of events in the North West region.

He said: “Roll on 2019 – the North West region is in great shape and I’m really looking forward to taking on the role of chair next year.

“I will make sure that the region continues to be supported to do the brilliant work that it already does and that we reach out and meet more people this year than ever before.”

Andrew Johnston, left, and Gary Halman

Andrew hopes to build stronger relationships between planners working in both the public and private sector, allowing both sides to learn from one another.

He will also be writing to all 40 local planning authorities in the North West with further details of the launch of the first RTPI Champions initiative, which is set to take-off in the new year.

Andrew took on his role of chair at the North West RTPI meeting on Friday, December 7, at which, Gary Halman also received a fellowship.

Gary said: “I’m delighted to have been elected a Fellow of the RTPI. Planning and development is crucial to driving economic development and delivering the new homes that the country so urgently needs.

“The RTPI is at the heart of this and it’s rewarding and an honour that one’s personal contribution is recognised in this way.”


A North West skin clinic is rounding off 2018 by growing its team of professionals to manage increasing demand.

InSkin, based in Kings Court, Altrincham, is a specialist team of doctors, nurses and clinical professionals providing a full range of skin treatments, from acupuncture to hair removal, to plasma soft surgery and fillers.

Tess White has just joined the busy team as a receptionist, while acupuncturist Melody Peters and reflexologist Tracey Roberts have also been appointed.

The company is owned by Julie Johnson. A specialist transgender electrologist for Bupa, Julie had been providing dermatology skin treatments and electrology at various clinics for years until she set up the business with her tattooist and art teacher husband Graham in 2014 – and has seen it grow steadily ever since.

Julie explained: “Our strategy has always been to build up a strong, loyal, client base, by offering in-demand professional medical services, delivered by a really strong team, at the best possible prices.

“As word of mouth has spread, our clients have travelled from all over the Manchester area and beyond and we’ve found ourselves needing to grow and diversify our offering.

“We’re delighted to welcome Melody, Tracey and Tess and take our team to nine. We’ll be expanding again in the New Year.”


Mint Bridging has created the new role of head of lending for Richard Showman.

Richard was previously head of underwriting, a position which he held since joining Mint in September 2015.

He has previously worked in a variety of senior financial services and property-related roles in a career which dates back to 1990. He is also a chartered surveyor.

This role provides opportunity to take a more strategic position in the business and will include additional development work with Mint’s lawyers, valuers and quantity surveyors, as well as provision ​of additional support for funders.

He will continue to play a significant part in day-to-day decision-making for new lending opportunities, alongside being more involved in overseeing the management of the company’s loan book.

Richard Showman

Mint’s managing director, Andrew Lazare, said “Richard has been at the centre of our lending management for over three years and our recent success could not have occurred without his considerable commitment, care and expertise.

“I am delighted that we have been able to reward his hard work with this newly-created position, and I am confident that he will be at the heart of the success of our business for many years to come.”

Richard added: “I am incredibly pleased to be able to step up into a new responsibility which has been tailor-made for me.

“This position gives me exposure to almost every part of the company, particularly delivering growth success in 2019 and the long term.”

The promotion builds on recent significant progress at Mint, which includes seeing its loan book hit a record high, and relocation to newly refurbished 5,400 sq ft business premises at the Atlantic Street Business Park in Altrincham.


Manchester-based responsible finance provider GC Business Finance has recruited &The Hive founder and tech start up expert Jess Jackson as investment manager within its growing investment and funding team.

Jess joins GC Business Finance, which is part of The Growth Company, from &The Hive, bringing with her several years’ expertise providing investment and business support with Evergreen Group, an innovative technology group focusing on health and energy, and family office Ascent Ventures.

Having worked directly with many tech businesses at both start-up and investment phase, she brings with her a unique understanding of the needs and challenges faced by entrepreneurs operating in this sector.

Jess will work to drive investment into digital and tech companies within the GC Angels operation which facilitates access to investment through angel syndicates and co-investment, with both their own and partner funds.

She will also be working with the team to grow the network of angels and partners, to drive delivery of transactions, to provide post-investment support to investees, and to ensure that funding is aligned with the delivery and attainment of key social and economic targets across the region.

Jess Jackson

Jess said: “I’m delighted to be joining GC Business Finance at a time when there is a palpable buzz around what we’re doing.

“There is huge demand for investors in sectors that are critical to the growth of the regional and national economy – from digital and fintech businesses to innovative health and bio start-ups.”

Darren Gowling, GC Angels senior investment director, said: “As the main source of coordinated angel activity in the North West, we are soon to reach a £20m milestone, a figure that is testament to just how investor syndicates are helping to shape the future of, not only growth businesses, but also the wider social and economic wellbeing of Greater Manchester.

“Jess has a proven background in tech and SME support and brings with her a great portfolio of skills to help drive the next phase of our service delivery.”

The Growth Company’s GC Angels supports businesses seeking access to angel investment, ranging from £25,000 up to £2m and forms part of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s response to supporting the early stage investment market.