People: B-North; Eleven Marketing & Communications; Azets; Legat Owen; Simpson Millar

Nimisha Patel

B-North, the Manchester-based firm building an SME lending bank for the UK, has appointed Nimisha Patel to the board as an independent non-executive director.

Nimisha brings almost 20 years’ experience in technology, transformation and risk management for some of the biggest names in professional services to B-North.

Last year Computer Weekly named Nimisha as its Chief Information Officer of the Year. Nimisha is currently the chief digital information officer at the Cabinet Office, responsible for helping to shape the technology strategy at the centre of government. As required by her role, B-North will serve as Nimisha’s only NED position.

Before joining the Cabinet Office Nimisha was the UK and international chief information Officer at FTSE 100-listed insurer RSA. In this role she was tasked with shaping the region’s IT strategy and services necessary to run the firm’s £3.1bn portfolio, managing a large global team.

Before she was appointed as CIO, Nimisha served as the company’s director of technology & operations risk management.

In addition to her experience as a CIO, Nimisha has experience leading IT audit and technology risk practices for financial services. At PwC, Nimisha led the IT internal audit practice across insurance and investment management. Before this, Nimisha worked at KPMG for six years as a senior manager, leading a number IT risk and consulting engagements in financial services.

Nimisha began her career at General Electric, starting on the firm’s leadership programme, before rising to IT programme manager. She holds a BS in Decision and Information Science from the University of Florida.

Nimisha said: ​“As a lifelong technology specialist, I am so pleased to be joining the board of B-North. B-North shares my passion for technology and the way that intelligent use of new solutions can bring significant benefits to customers.

“I look forward to working with the company as they work to secure their banking licence and move towards delivering lending to the SMEs of the UK.”

Nimisha joins B-North as the firm accelerates towards securing its banking licence and completing its £20m ‘Series A’ fundraise.

The firm aims to disrupt the UK’s £150bn SME lending market by establishing the first truly regional lending bank in 150 years. Through its network of regional ‘lending pods’ combined with a state-of-the-art cloud-based banking system, B-North aims to deliver loans to business 10x faster than the industry standard.

Ron Emerson, chair of B-North, said: ​“I am absolutely delighted that Nimisha is joining the B-North board. At the core of any successful business are its people and Nimisha is another excellent addition to the team, further deepening B-North’s rich pool of talent.

“With Nimisha’s extensive expertise in technology, and its role in financial services, she brings a critical complementary set of skills to the business.”

Earlier this month B-North also appointed Jackie Ewer as head of operational risk & compliance.


Creative marketing agency Eleven Marketing & Communications is celebrating its 11th year in business this month and the Cheshire-based agency is marking this milestone by announcing five appointments.

Last month, Gareth Tudor and Sarah Handley joined the team as senior account manager/sales manager and graphic designer, respectively.

And in 2020, Ella Cooper, Sarah Hawkins and Alice Chamberlain all joined the team as operations manager, marketing manager/copywriter and account executive, respectively.

Sarah Hawkins

Eleven is a full-service marketing agency based in Nantwich, Cheshire.

Clare Lydon, managing director at Eleven, said: “Over the course of what’s been a truly unique and unexpected year for us, we’ve got plenty to celebrate here at Eleven.

“We have focused on remaining agile by listening to and proactively anticipating our clients’ needs, responding to all situations with empathy and ingenuity to deliver solutions that work for them.

“The past 11 years have been an exciting journey – full of opportunities and challenges. None so more than this recent year. But despite everything, we still have plenty to celebrate on our birthday. I’m so very proud of the team we’ve built, the quality of which is reflected in the impressive roster of clients that we serve.”


Azets, the accountancy and business advisors to SMEs, has promoted Karen Chadwick, Jenny Pape, Stephen Kerrigan, Simon Read and Lee Van Houplines to partner across its North West offices. Helen Davies has also been promoted to director.

These key promotions demonstrate Azets commitment to growing the business regionally, it said. Azets has offices in Bolton, Lancaster, Manchester, Preston, Rossendale and Stockport.

Jenny Pape joined the Azets tax team in Lancaster in 2017 after 10 years with a ‘big four’ firm. She has more than 12 years’ experience advising SMEs, owner managed businesses and international groups, as well as charitable organisations, on all aspects of UK taxation. Jenny specialises in tax structuring and also has significant experience agreeing settlements with HMRC on her clients’ behalf. She will also be responsible for providing tax advice to Azets’ Preston office client base.

Karen Chadwick has been with Azets for six years and has more than 25 years of private client tax experience. Karen started her career with the ‘Big 4’ and prior to joining Azets, worked at two independent firms widening her experience within the owner-managed business/SME market. She advises high net worth individuals across the region including many non-UK resident and domiciled clients and is based in the firm’s Manchester office.

Karen brings with her a wealth of personal and trust tax compliance and advisory experience, having dealt with a range of clients including non-resident and non-UK domiciled individuals. Karen has gained valuable experience within the tax investigations/enquiries arena from a private client and business perspective.

Top row L to R: Karen Chadwick, Jenny Pape, Lee Van Houplines. Bottom row L to R: Stephen Kerrigan, Simon Read, Helen Davies

Lee Van Houplines joined the Manchester office as a graduate trainee in 2004. He has significant experience of audit compliance and accounts advisory services, dealing predominantly with a range of owner-managed businesses alongside listed entities and large groups of companies containing overseas subsidiaries. He has particular expertise in the manufacturing, distribution and healthcare sectors.

Stephen Kerrigan is a Chartered Tax Advisor specialising in all personal and employment taxes. He has more than 10 years’ experience working with owner-managed businesses and individuals to minimise their tax exposure across the board. Stephen deals with HMRC disputes and enquiries and heads up the Rossendale tax department.

Simon Read is a Chartered Accountant with more than 10 years’ experience in the accountancy profession. He works closely with a wide portfolio of clients, in a range of sectors including professional football, online retail and technology. Simon is a trusted advisor for a number of businesses, from smaller family companies to the UK arms of large international groups and is based in the Rossendale office.

David Travis, regional managing partner at Azets in the North West, said: “I’m delighted to congratulate Jenny, Karen, Lee, Simon and Stephen on their promotion to partner. They all bring a wealth of experience to the role and their promotions are testament to their hard work and dedication.

“While it’s been a challenging few months, it’s important we plan for the future and ensure we invest in the firm. Ensuring we continue to develop future leaders demonstrates our confidence in and commitment to the market and these appointments reflect the importance we place on delivering the best service possible to our clients across the region.”


Property consultancy Legat Owen has announced the appointment of Will Rees as a director for residential development.

Will has 25 years’ experience in residential development consultancy, advising major corporate, public and private sector clients on development land sales, valuation, consultancy and dispute resolution.

For the past 11 years he has run Rees Straw, a niche consultancy operating across the North West and North Wales.

He is current chair of the Chester Association of Property Professionals and regional head judge for the RICS Social Impact Awards.

Will’s appointment to handle residential development work follows the sudden passing of Stephen Wade last month.

Will Rees

Legat Owen’s residential development arm advises landowners, developers, funds and local authorities on residential development land agency and valuation.

The company represents clients including Wellcome Trust, Glyndwr University, Canal and Rivers Trust, Cheshire West and Cheshire Council and Denbighshire County Council.

Peter Johnston, director at Legat Owen, said: “Will is a highly qualified and experienced residential development professional and has close working relationships with landowners, developers and national housebuilders. A Chester-man, he is both well-known and well-respected and we look forward to welcoming him into the Legat Owen family.

“His appointment is a fitting tribute to our much-loved colleague, Stephen, who had previously spoken to Will about the prospect of joining the Legat Owen team and his appointment is an appropriate legacy to Stephen.”

Rees said: “Legat Owen is a superb company and I am absolutely thrilled to take up this opportunity. I had huge respect for Stephen and the work that he has done and am only sorry I won’t be able to work alongside him.”


Law firm Simpson Millar has announced the arrival of three new hires within its national family law team in a move which bolsters the firm’s private client offering across the UK.

The appointments signify the start of an ‘ambitious year of growth’ for the firm, with legal heavyweight and partner Lorraine Harvey joining from Slater & Gordon where she led the Manchester-based family team, and litigation executive Chrissy Lightfoot joining from Belgravia-based law firm Child & Child, where she assisted the former head of practice.

Alice Evans also joins as a paralegal, having previously worked at Lupton Fawcett in Leeds.

David Lister, national head of the family law team, said plans were under way to further increase the team’s headcount by 12 over the coming months – doubling the total number of family law experts within the business before year end.

Lorraine Harvey

With more than 20 years’ experience in key areas of family law including divorce and pre-nuptial agreements, Lorraine is a Resolution-accredited specialist in financial and children disputes.

She said: “Simpson Millar is a dynamic, forward thinking firm, and I am delighted to be joining the business during such an exciting era, and amidst the rapid expansion of the family law department which is set to double in size over the course of 2021.”

David Lister, head of the firm’s family law team, said: “It’s a real honour and privilege to have Alice, Chrissy and Lorraine join our expanding family law team. All three bring with them a wealth of experience, and we’re looking forward to welcoming more high-profile individuals in the coming months.

“Lorraine has a strong and established reputation within Greater Manchester and across the North West, which is a key growth area for the firm.”