People: Chester Race Company; Social Tech Communications; Bridging Finance Solutions; Clough and Willis

Louise Stewart, Chester Race Company
X The Business Desk

Register for free to receive latest news stories direct to your inbox


The Chester Race Company has announced Louise Stewart, CEO of the world-famous Alexandra Park and Palace in London, as its new boss.

Louise, a highly experienced, commercially focused leisure, tourism, and events professional, is joining the company as its new CEO.

As CEO of ‘Ally Pally’, a role she’s held for over six years, Louise created a new 25-year vision for the iconic sports and entertainment venue, a key part of which was strengthening the commercial operation and investing in the visitor experience to significantly improve its financial performance.

Before this, Louise was deputy CEO of Visit England and held senior roles at both One North East and Yorkshire Forward Regional Development Agencies.

Ian O’Doherty, chair of Chester Race Company, said: “Coming from outside Racing, Louise will bring a fresh and exciting perspective to our business, and she will be supported in her role by our Board and team who are steeped in Racing; none more so than our directors Lisa Hancock and Charles Barnett, the former CEOs of Newmarket and Ascot racecourses respectively. Charles is also serving as our interim CEO.

“There’s no doubt that the past two years have been difficult for the Chester Race Company – as they have for any sports and leisure organisation – but we had a strong post-lockdown come-back season at our three racecourses this year and with Louise leading us forward, I know we’re going to build on that in 2022 and beyond. Louise will join us in the first quarter of 2022 and will play a big role in getting us ready for our May Festival in Chester.”

Louise added: “This is a really exciting new role for me, and I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to lead Chester Race Company, our three wonderful racecourses in Chester, Bangor-on-Dee and Musselburgh, and of course our many hospitality, conferencing, and events businesses, as we move forwards.

“Most of all, I’m excited about meeting everyone who makes up the Chester Racecourse company family – our shareholders, our sponsors and partners, our owners and trainers, our members and customers, and the amazing team I’ve heard so much about.”

Helen Oldham

Specialist PR and communications agency, Social Tech Communications, has appointed Helen Oldham as chairwoman as it targets significant growth over the next 12 months.

Part of purpose-driven communications group Social, Social Tech Communications launched in April 2021 and works with technology businesses to define and tell their stories and build positive reputations in order to attract investment, grow market share, engage audiences and influence industries.

Helen Oldham said: “I’m delighted to be joining an organisation with a commitment to being a force for good, both in what they do and genuinely how they go about it. My experience of Social is that this permeates across everything they do, demonstrated through a beautiful balance of empathy and challenge.

“I’m looking forward to working with Sara and her team to bring to life the tech business stories which demonstrate the strength of the sector in the regions. The tenacity of the founders, the high levels of innovation and diversity of thinking, all of which deserve global attention.”

With more than 30 years’ experience in the media, most latterly as Managing Director of The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, Helen brings with her a wealth of knowledge and insights.

More recently, she co-founded NorthInvest, an early stage tech funding connector, and Fund Her North, an organisation which supports Northern female founders through every stage of their funding journey. Helen is also Chair of charity Smart Works Leeds.

Sara Donnelly, Director, Social Tech Communications, added: “Helen’s appointment comes at a significant time for Social Tech Communications, as we start our new financial year and begin to accelerate our growth ambitions for the business.

“We’re delighted to welcome Helen to the senior team, and look forward to drawing on her expertise and unique knowledge of the tech start-up, investment and broader business world to ensure our continued success.”

Sarah Cropper

Sarah Cropper

Bridging Finance Solutions has appointed Sarah Cropper as Underwriter to the growing underwriting team.

Based at the company’s Wirral based head office, Sarah has worked in financial services for over 30 years under roles within the banking and financial adviser sectors.

More recently, Sarah worked as Head of Portfolio Management and Loan Operations Manager for bridging finance companies.

Sarah said: “This is the perfect role for me. I own a solid understanding of the life of a loan from enquiry to redemption and all the stages in between.

“I aim to utilise my skills to support the planned growth strategy of Bridging Finance Solutions and expand and strengthen my own knowledge base.”

Rachel Davies of Bridging Finance Solutions added: “Sarah is the perfect person for this role. She has a vast amount of experience within our industry and I’m sure will prove to be a huge asset as we expand and grow.”


Rafia Faruk

Bury and Bolton-based law firm Clough & Willis has grown its Private Client department with the appointment of Rafia Faruk who is its newest paralegal.

Rafia joins Clough & Willis from Co-op Legal Services where she worked for two and a half years. She has also worked at Slater and Gordon.

Her new role will see her handle a broad caseload of private client matters including the drafting of LPAs and wills as well as estate administration. Rafia will be working closely with Nicola Finbow, Head of Private Client, as well as Rhianna Bateson and Sarah Greene who are both solicitors.

On her appointment, Rafia said: “Clough and Willis is regarded as a leading firm in the North West that is known for delivering first-class levels of client service.  That was a real draw for me so I’m excited to be part of its future and am confident that I will be able to learn and develop as well as add value to the team.”

Nicola Finbow commented: “Rafia is a talented paralegal so we are delighted that she has joined Clough & Willis as her commitment to client care fits with our values.”