People: Burnley FC; British Business Bank; CEL Solicitors; Access2Funding; Cheshire and Warrington LEP

Ben Bottomley

The community arm of Burnley FC has appointed Ben Bottomley to head its partnership operation, working with businesses to fund its work in and around Burnley.

Joining Burnley FC in the Community after six years as director of commercial and business development at FC Halifax Town, Ben will lead on the charity’s business partnership and sponsorship relationships, securing funding to support its wide range of programmes. He will also work closely with business partners on corporate fundraising opportunities.

Ben said: “Burnley FC is a special club and a focal point of the town. The connection between the club and the community is a really positive one and you can clearly see the difference the charity’s work makes, from the various community projects it organises, through to the wide range of facilities available for local people. I wanted to be a part of that and to help businesses to get involved.”

He added: “It’s an exciting challenge and it is rewarding to feel I’m contributing to making positive change to the local community. I’m a public-spirited individual and love meeting new people, so I’m looking forward to bringing my skill set to the role.”

Prior to his role at FC Halifax Town, Ben worked as an account manager for UTV Media, Johnston Press and HBOS, and is experienced in developing effective relationships with businesses, forming successful partnerships, and driving engagement.

Burnley FC in the Community employs 150 people and in 2020 reinvested £3.5m in the local area through its charitable programmes. In addition to Whitehough Outdoor Centre near Colne, the charity also runs a community kitchen in Burnley, which is home to a foodbank, teaching kitchen, community café and sports store.


The British Business Bank has appointed Dr Sophie Dale-Black as a director to lead the Bank’s UK Network team across the North of England and Midlands.

With the bank headquartered in Sheffield, the move will add to its existing on-the-ground presence working across the regions. Dale-Black’s role will cover the North West, North East and Yorkshire and the Humber.

A PhD-qualified scientist by training, Dale-Black’s previous positions include roles at Newcastle University, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Innovate UK, supporting the growth of innovative businesses.

In her new role, Dale-Black will focus on helping enhance the small business finance ecosystem in the North, to support smaller businesses access the finance they need to recover, grow and prosper. The UK network team’s remit is to also gain a deeper understanding of regional small business finance markets, to help shape the bank’s support to smaller businesses and inform government policy.

Dr Sophie Dale-Black

Dr Sophie Dale-Black said: “I have worked closely with the British Business Bank for a number of years and recognise the critical role it is playing in transforming finance markets for smaller businesses across the UK and specifically in the North of England.

“As we emerge from the pandemic, accelerating the recovery of small businesses in the region and unlocking new growth is a priority for the bank. There’s real pride across the North for the small business community, and I’m excited to be joining the bank to support the entrepreneurship and innovation that is so ripe in the region.”

Warren Ralls, managing director, UK network, said: “Sophie brings tremendous experience and connections to the smaller business and financial intermediary communities. This is alongside a strong background in science and innovation. These are key priorities for the British Business Bank as we look to help build on the UK’s reputation as a scientific superpower, driving forward innovation and the recovery in the regions.

“We would like to welcome Sophie to the team and look forward to working with her to enable smaller businesses to access the finance best suited to their needs.”


Former Warrant Officer, Tony Charnley, who has served on operations around the world, has joined Liverpool-based law firm CEL Solicitors to help develop strong leaders and strengthen communication skills across the firm.

Tony has been appointed as staff performance and group operations manager at CEL following a full career in the British Army that spanned more than 22 years.

As part of his role, Tony will work closely with the business’s board of directors to develop managers’ leadership skills, coach staff on effective communications, implement empowerment, and lead a new mental health and wellbeing training programme.

Prior to joining CEL, which specialises in civil litigation, Tony was a combat infantry soldier in the Field Army, finally finishing his career as the Training Warrant Officer at 4 LANCS, the North West’s Army Reserve Infantry battalion.

His time in the Army saw him being deployed on major operations, such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tours in Northern Ireland and Kosovo, as well as exercises across Canada, Kenya, Kuwait, Cyprus, South Africa, Estonia and more.

Tony, 40, said: “Throughout my military career, I’d always been passionate about training managers to be exceptional leaders – anyone can be given a promotion to hold the title but being able to inspire and lead a team to success is a skill in itself.

Tony Charnley

“I was drawn to CEL’s ethos of putting people before profits, which includes both the staff and the clients, so I’m looking forward to helping to take the team forward and, hopefully, put my military background and skills to use.”

Located at 20 Chapel Street in Liverpool, CEL Solicitors works with clients across the country, focusing on claims relating to housing disrepair, Japanese knotweed, data breach, financial mis-selling, fraud prevention, and business interruption.

Earlier this year, the firm announced its upcoming expansion to take space on the sixth floor of the building, paving the way to hire a further 120 new team members over the next two years.

Jessica Hampson, owner and director at CEL Solicitors, said: “Bringing Tony on to our team offers a fresh perspective – he has a completely different set of skills to the team but they are skills that can be adapted and that will be invaluable in developing leaders at CEL.

“We’ve always placed our staff’s mental health at the core of everything we do, so we’ve also tasked Tony with driving this strategy forward to help ensure that we are walking the walk, not just talking the talk.”

She added: “We can’t wait to see Tony getting stuck in and being integrated to the team, and we’re confident that he’ll play a crucial role in shaping the future of CEL.”


Birkenhead- based Access2Funding has recruited four new tax specialists from a range of accountancy backgrounds, all with experience at the top 20 accountancy firms or hailing from the ‘big four’.

One of the fastest-growing research and development (R&D) tax specialists in the UK has onboarded the new team to help maximise client R&D tax credit claims, as well as to provide training to the rest of the team and to feed in to HMRC’s R&D consultation documents.

Craig Flynn joins with a background in corporation tax, having worked abroad previously. He brings specialist knowledge in the construction sector, after working for the likes of Kier Construction, and he also worked in the finance department for United Utilities. Craig will work across the Midlands region.

Meanwhile, North West-based Leslie Maloney holds a degree in chemistry from Oxford University, as well as having almost 20 years’ experience in the financial sector, most recently as technical director at a top 20 firm.

Leslie Maloney

Leslie has worked in a range of areas, covering corporate finance and transactional work, as well tax planning. He also brings an understanding of computer modelling and pharmaceuticals to the role.

On the Scotland team, Karen McCann joins with a vast background from her 25 years in the finance industry. She has worked in the likes of investment tax, asset management, personal tax and has also previously worked as a trainer and a university lecturer.

Kieran Newton covers the southern region as well as Northern Ireland, bringing with him a wealth of knowledge on corporation tax for SMEs, personal tax for high net-worth individuals and corporate tax planning and restructuring.

R&D tax credits were introduced in 2000 by HMRC to incentivise innovation, and result in a reduction in corporation tax or a cash payment for companies.

Dawn Coker, CEO at Access2Funding, said: “As part of our rapid growth in the UK, we want to offer our clients the best possible service, which is why we sought out the expertise of our tax specialists.

“All four new team members bring something unique to the business and we know that our clients will certainly benefit from their combined experience. As we expand into more alternative services, the tax specialists will become an even more vital cog in the Access2Funding wheel.”


Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has appointed five new members to its board as it steps up activity to drive forward the region’s economic growth.

Dr Kath Mackay

The newly-expanded team will support the LEP as it delivers its forthcoming Local Industrial Strategy and build on the world class assets, skilled workforce and quality of life that has made the area one of the fastest growing economics in the country.

The new board members are: Dr Kath Mackay, managing director, Bruntwood SciTech – Alderley Park; Rupert Collis, head of commercial (NW), Fisher German; Loren Jones, chair, Northern Nuclear Alliance; Annette McDonald, deputy managing director, Tatton Group; and Alice Choi, chief operating officer, McCann Health Medical Communications.

Dr Mackay said: “Life science is a genuine strength of the Northern Powerhouse and, in Cheshire East, Alderley Park has become a powerhouse of its own in terms of attracting, supporting, and growing innovation-based businesses.

Rupert Collis

“As we have seen during the pandemic, new medicines are fundamental to the nation’s security and there is a lot of exciting potential for the region to develop its existing drug development, diagnostics and manufacturing base. Alderley Park is also part of the Cheshire Science Corridor, which already boasts world leaders in nuclear engineering and emerging technologies that will help us decarbonise how we live and work. It’s great to join the team and I’m really proud to fly the flag for innovation in the region.”

Annette McDonald said: “Cheshire and Warrington is leading the way in driving forward an agenda around making our economy more sustainable and inclusive, issues which are hugely important to me and the Tatton Group.

“There’s a lot of innovation happening in our region around clean energy and also outstanding natural capital in our rural areas. I’m proud to be part of the LEP’s board as we navigate the economy post-pandemic.”

Loren Jones

Clare Hayward, chair of Cheshire and Warrington LEP, said: “I’m delighted to welcome Alice, Annette, Kath, Loren and Rupert to the board. They’re joining at an extremely key time, as we have an opportunity to build on the tremendous assets in Cheshire and Warrington ensuring that, together, we support the sustainable growth of businesses and communities in our region.

“I’m confident that they’ll bring the vital skills and experience we need as we continue to work towards our vision to make the sub-region the healthiest, most sustainable, inclusive, and growing economy in the UK.

“I would also like to personally thank the outgoing board members who have dedicated their time to the growth of Cheshire and Warrington’s economy in recent years.”