People on the Move: Ridge & Partners; Holker IT; Kings Chambers; Moda Living; Hilton Smythe Finance

Ian Watt and Chris Haworth

Ian Watt has joined the Manchester office of Ridge and Partners LLP from WSP to bolster its infrastructure team.

The move follows the recent funding announcement for the extension of the West Midlands’ Metro network, on which Ridge is a key advisor.

“Ian has an incredibly strong track record in delivering complex transport infrastructure schemes, including recent extensions of the Manchester Metrolink tram system. Our team managing the tram extension from Wolverhampton to Brierley Hill have the potential to benefit greatly from his experience,” said Chris Haworth, the Manchester-based partner at Ridge leading the firm’s West Midlands Metro project team.

Ridge was first appointed to advise on the business case for the West Midlands Metro in 2009 and has since grown its remit to encompass the full project and programme management function for the network’s expansion.

“Delivering major urban infrastructure of this type involves a wide range of technical challenges and performance constraints,” said Ian Watt.

“My experience is in overcoming such barriers to delivery and I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to the wide range of challenges that Ridge’s project portfolio will present.”

Ian Watt’s former clients include Transport for Greater Manchester, Network Rail, Manchester Airport Group, Transport for London and the Ministry of Defence.

The North West offices of Ridge are currently advising on Stockport Town Centre Access Plan, SEMMMS Bus Rapid Transit, Accessible Oldham, Wigan and Bolton’s recent HIF Forward Funding Bid and KeolisAmey Metrolink business transformation in preparation for operation of the £350m Trafford Park Line extension.


A proactive Burnley technology firm has further strengthened its fast-growing team.

Cyber security specialists Holker IT has taken a triple jump forward, recruiting a trio of new starters to deal with a growth in business.

Locals Simon McGowan and Jordan Woodcock have joined the company as account manager and service desk engineer, respectively, while Slovakian Martina Giles Kusakova has returned ‘home’ to Lancashire.

Holker IT managing director Matthew Metcalfe said: “It is certainly a positive sign that we have had to bring in three new faces.

“We have seen a real spike in business over recent months – particularly in relation to Cyber Security – and there is scope within the team for further growth in the near future.”

Jordan Woodcock, Martina Giles Kusakova, Matthew Metcalfe and Simon McGowan

Burnley-born Simon McGowan, 35, has joined the company’s sales department and will be tasked with liaising with customers and new business development.

With well over a decade’s experience in commercial sales, Simon graduated Burnley College with a Business Administration NVC in 2004 before joining and progressing through the ranks at Walker Farrimond.

Simon is joined by Martina Giles Kusakova, who takes on the role of business administrator. Originally from Slovakia, Martina spent eight years in Cyprus where she worked as a crewing officer for a shipping company.

While in the Mediterranean, the 32-year-old met her husband Chris before moving back, in October, to his hometown – of Burnley.

The new trio is completed by 25-year-old Jordan Woodcock, who joins as service desk engineer.

Another graduate of Burnley College, Altham-based Jordan boasts a diploma in engineering and will join the company’s helpdesk.


Gerard McDermott QC is the latest leading Queen’s Counsel barrister to join Manchester-based barristers’ set Kings Chambers.

Gerard, who became a silk in 1999, has a diverse practice across common law and commercial fields and has worked on a host of international cases.

He specialises in large catastrophic injury cases and has expertise in employment law and complex EU legislation.

In the past year Gerard has worked on a number of multimillion-pound precedent-setting litigation cases and is regularly instructed on the most complex and valuable PI claims in the UK.

Gerard will be clerked by Chief Clerk Stephen Loxton and director of clerking, Bill Brown.

Stephen Loxton said “We’re delighted that Gerard has joined Kings to further develop his already successful practice.

“Gerard was first clerked by Bill around 35 years and he has a had a strong connection with the chambers ever since.

Gerard McDermott QC and Bill Brown

“It is a huge advantage to have someone of Gerard’s calibre on board with the chambers and we’re certain to benefit from his wide-ranging experience and expertise.”

Nigel Poole QC, head of Kings Chambers, said: “Gerard is a leading figure at the Bar whose wide civil practice fits very well with the spread of specialist civil law services offered by Kings Chambers.

“His international experience will enhance our growing reputation abroad and his arrival brings the total number of silks at Kings to 18, six of whom practise in personal injury and clinical negligence litigation.

“Gerard is already known to many within chambers and we very much look forward to working with him in the future.”

Gerard is also a member in London at Outer Temple Chambers.

He is ranked as a star individual in the recent Chambers and Partners 2019 edition and has been consistently ranked as an expert in his field in both Chambers and Partners and Legal 500.

Gerard has been a member of the American Bar Association for more than 30 years and is currently co-chair of the International Litigation Committee of the Litigation Section.

He received the first Presidential Citation from the President of the ABA.


Moda, a developer, operator and owner of private rented housing, has further strengthened its management team as the company continues to grow its pipeline and operationalise across the UK.

Kate Barnes joins from prominent Manchester block management company, Urban Bubble, to take up the roll of general manager at Moda’s flagship development, Angel Gardens in Manchester.

Set to open in 2019, Kate will be responsible for the operations set-up and recruiting a further 14 members of staff to deliver exceptional, hotel-style service to the scheme’s 466 apartments.

In another addition to the central operations team, Sarah Flint, previously asset management director at real estate consultancy LIV, has joined Moda HQ as head of asset management.

Sarah will manage the overall asset performance across the group, initially focusing on Angel Gardens before covering the wider portfolio.

Once completed, Angel Gardens will offer high quality homes designed exclusively for rent ranging from studios to three-bedrooms in size.

Sarah Flint, left, and Kate Barnes

Residents will benefit from a range of shared amenities, including a 24-hour gym, communal lounges, flexible work space, and a rooftop sports pitch and bar designed with residents’ physical and mental wellbeing in mind.

At 35-storeys, Angel Gardens is one of the largest build-to-rent projects outside of London and was subject to one of the biggest funding deals since the financial crash, with pbb Deutsche Pfandbriefbank providing an £85m senior debt facility to bankroll construction.

The £154m development, on the corner of Miller Street and Rochdale Road, forms a key part of the 20-acre NOMA neighbourhood in Manchester city centre, where global e-commerce giant Amazon recently announced it would be opening its first UK headquarters outside of London.

Practical completion of Angel Gardens will be in two phases, with the first apartments available this Summer and the penthouses finished by late Autumn 2019.

Caddick Construction, which took over from Carillion as main contractor, marked the topping out in a ceremony in January earlier this year.

Dan Brooks, director at Moda Living said: “Central to the Moda offer is an unrivalled living experience, which our operations team will be crucial in creating. Both Kate and Sarah will play leading roles in helping deliver premium customer service round the clock and raising the bar for renting in Manchester.”

Kate Barnes said: “Build-to-rent will undoubtedly change the rental market in Manchester by delivering outstanding customer service with high quality amenities. Moda Living, with their heavy focus on both, have created the right concept and specification to ensure Angel Gardens will be regarded as a market-leading scheme in the sector.”

Sarah Flint said: “I am excited to join Moda at such a pivotal time, with the imminent launch of Angel Gardens and as several other developments start on-site this year. Moda is setting a new standard in build-to-rent and I am thrilled to be working with such a forward-thinking developer and operator.”


Bolton-based Hilton Smythe Finance has appointed a new commercial finance broker to its team.

Alex Heylings brings more than 10 years’ experience in the financial sector to Hilton Smythe Finance, which is part of the Hilton Smythe Group.

Prior to joining the firm, Alex held several banking positions at HSBC in retail and commercial banking, which involved advising individuals and companies on finance solutions to enable business growth.

In 2015 Alex founded his own finance brokerage, Nova Commercial Finance, aiming to fill the gap left by high street banks to help those struggling to raise funding for small business ventures.

Hilton Smythe Finance helps potential buyers to access finance when purchasing a business. It is fully regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Alex Heylings

Alex said: “I’m delighted to join the team at Hilton Smythe Finance. I pride myself on customer care and have a great deal of experience working closely with business owners to understand their firms inside and out, the challenges they face and their long-term vision.

“Independent financial brokerage is essential to many people looking to buy a business, as the majority of people wanting to make a purchase will not be able to entirely self-fund the venture.

“Working with a broker gives them that peace of mind, as they know they will get impartial advice, while saving time in their search for funding.”

Paul Williams, head of financial services at Hilton Smyth Finance, said: “With an extensive commercial banking background, Alex can assess, advise and assist our clients with sourcing all types of business and property finance. We have a great deal of confidence in him.

“We’re incredibly pleased to have him on board and know he will be an asset to the team.”