People: PWA Planning; Together; Browne Jacobson; Parogon Group; DF Capital; Muckle

Nicola Hughes, Sharon Thomas, Gabriela de Amorim

North West planning consultancy PWA Planning has expanded its team with three new appointments.

Sharon Thomas has joined the firm as a senior planner working as part of PWA’s energy planning division.

With more than 20 years’ experience, Sharon has held roles at planning consultancies, architecture firms, housebuilders and councils, working on projects including housing, commercial, industrial and heritage buildings.

A chartered member of the Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE), Sharon, from Liverpool, has a degree in Architectural Technology from Huddersfield University.

Gabriela de Amorim has joined PWA as an assistant planner and will support the team on a range of development projects by conducting detailed site appraisals and writing planning statements.

Originally from Brazil, Gabriela has lived in the UK for 17 years, and graduated from UWE Bristol with a degree in Urban Planning.

Nicola Hughes, from Eccleston, also joins the firm as accounts assistant, working as part of the team supporting the financial operations side of the business. It marks a career change for Nicola who previously spent nine years in dental nursing.

Stella Walton, director of PWA Planning, said: “As the needs of our clients grow and diversify, so too does our team. We’re therefore thrilled to welcome Sharon, Gabriela and Nicola on board and know clients and partners will benefit tremendously from their range of skills and experience.”


Andrew Douglas

Cheadle-based specialist lender Together has appointed Andrew Douglas as new national account manager for networks and clubs.

Andrew will be providing education on Together’s diverse range of specialist lending solutions to members and advisors. Previously he has held roles across top financial institutions, such as Halifax, Nationwide Building Society, Clydesdale Bank and Virgin Money.

He said: “As one of the leading specialist lenders in the UK, I am incredibly excited to be joining Together. In a market where customers’ situations are becoming ever more complex, Together offers a variety of options to cater for different needs.”

Nick Parker, head of networks and clubs at Together, said its adviser portal will be launching at the end of the year, as the team continues to engage with network and clubs to bring Together’s proposition to their advisers. Nick said: “Our network and club partners are hugely important to us, and we are pleased to be able to hire top industry talent to help support our work with them.

“Having followed Andrew’s career for the last few years, we were impressed by the outstanding support he has given to his brokers and key accounts. We are working on building a networks and clubs channel that underpins our core strengths in common sense lending and hope to see this launch very soon.”


Lee Ashwood

Law firm Browne Jacobson has appointed employment law specialist Lee Ashwood as a partner in its Manchester office, bringing the number of partners in the firm’s North West based office to 18.

Lee, who joins from Freeths in Manchester, has more than 13 years’ experience advising UK and international business and organisations on the full remit of employment law and employee relations matters. He also has extensive experience as an Employment Tribunal litigator having acted on more than 800 cases, including discrimination and whistleblowing, TUPE claims, and class actions.

James Tait, head of employment at Browne Jacobson, said: “Lee’s broad experience across the full remit of employment law alongside his sectoral expertise in retail, independent care and logistics, has strong synergies with our offering and will be a major asset to the firm’s clients.”

Lee Ashwood said: “I have been impressed by the firm’s ambitions to be a genuine powerhouse when it comes to employment law as well as its broad portfolio of national and regional clients serviced out of the firm’s Manchester office which has firmly established itself as a major player since opening in 2012.”

Lee ‘s arrival into the Manchester office is part of a major recruitment drive in the North West for the firm which has seen the arrival of partner Francis Katamba, former principal solicitor at the Information Commissioner’s Office as well as a series of legal key investments within its clinical negligence, real estate and insurance and public risk teams since the start of the year.


Mark McQuater

Parogon Group, which owns restaurants throughout Staffordshire, Shropshire and Cheshire, has appointed Mark McQuater as non-executive chairman.

Mark has an extensive background as a leader and operator in the hospitality industry. His roles have included being the first MD of JD Wetherspoon, founding and then leading Barracuda to a £262m sale and CEO of Revolution Bars Group. His other experience in his early career in private equity as a director of Bridgepoint and being a qualified Chartered Accountant have stood him in good stead in recent years where Mark has supported several SMEs including currently being chairman of Roxy Leisure and Deckhouse.

Richard Colclough, Parogon Group managing director, said: “Mark will bring tremendous sector knowledge and experience of growing companies successfully. We have strategic goals to achieve as part of our business plan and this appointment forms a significant part of that and will enhance our ability to double the size of the business in the next few years. Mark’s appointment is a clear sign of our intent and ambition.”

Mark said: “There is now a point of inflection in Parogon’s journey as all the foundations are in place to accelerate growth and capitalise on the past success. I’m looking forward to working with Richard and the executive team to deliver sustainable growth during what I’m sure will prove to be a very exciting period of development.”


David Witherspoon

DF Capital, the specialist commercial lending bank supporting dealers and manufacturers with working capital solutions, has appointed David Witherspoon as managing director – commercial sectors.

David is responsible for all lending activity across agriculture, industrial and transport asset types and leads the bank’s sector manufacturer programme and client management teams.

He has more than 30 years’ experience within the equipment finance lending space. For the past three years he has run his own consultancy delivering value added services to manufacturers, vendors and distributors as well as their financial services providers. Before that, he worked at DLL for almost 18 years in a variety of senior global roles. Earlier in his career, he also worked for GE Capital, Woodchester Credit Lyonnais, Sabre Leasing and Mercantile Credit.

David said: “It’s a pleasure to be joining an ambitious business which places great importance on its partnership approach to working with customers. My experience stretches across all the sectors DF Capital operates in today, so I look forward to getting to know my colleagues, our partners and hitting the ground running.”

Carl D’Ammassa, CEO at Manchester-based DF Capital, said: “David has depth of product and commercial sector experience having successfully led similar lending business at a local, regional and global level. As well as David’s proven leadership experience, his strategic mindset will be put to work to help us further grow the reach of our lending products across more sectors and asset classes so that we can support more manufacturers and dealers working capital needs.”


Winter Addis and David Towns

Law firm Muckle has appointed Cumbria-born Winter Addis as an associate solicitor, further strengthening the firm’s growing Cumbrian presence.

Winter joins the fast-growing agriculture, estates and private client team at Muckle, bringing with her a decade of experience.

After studying a Masters in Legal Science at the Queen’s University of Belfast, Winter worked for a boutique family law firm in York before returning to Cumbria to join another regional firm as a lawyer in its private client team.

Winter said: “This is a new chapter and I’m looking forward to helping a wide range of clients on all different kinds of interesting trust matters in the private client sector.”

David Towns, partner and head of the agriculture, estates and private client team, said: “Winter has had varied experience working with a range of clients from all over the North West and North East. She is already making a difference in supporting senior lawyers and helping to deliver a fantastic service to our clients.”