People: Hugh Jones Solicitors; Hydrogen Safe; Housemates; Lifted; Hurst; CoolKit; Luma Marketing; Identity Consult

Liz Hughes and Catherine Eassom

Manchester-based Court of Protection firm, Hugh Jones Solicitors, has promoted several team members and welcomed a new director to the board.

The boutique practice has promoted Catherine Eassom to director following four successful years at Hugh Jones Solicitors working within the Court of Protection department. Catherine is also Head of the Expert Witness team and has an established expert witness practice where she is asked to provide advice and statements on all aspects of Court of Protection practice, costs and mental capacity issues. Catherine has an extensive background in working with clients who have suffered catastrophic injury, including serious brain injury as a result of personal injury.

Catherine said: “I’m thrilled to be joining the board of directors at Hugh Jones Solicitors. As we continue to grow, the sense of responsibility to protect clients never falters and I look forward to helping shape the future of the firm in my new position as director.”

The Court of Protection team – which has experienced a 31% year-on-year uplift in work – has also promoted Hayley Chesters, Kirsty Morley and Rachel Duxbury to senior associates. Elsewhere in the firm, Kathryn Mark Bell in the compliance team has also been promoted to senior associate.

Managing director, Liz Hughes, said: “Without our people, the firm wouldn’t be achieving such success and it’s important to recognise those individuals that go the extra mile. Congratulations to all those who have been promoted – it’s thoroughly deserved.”


Amer Gaffar

Hydrogen Safe, the hydrogen safety training specialist that acts as a conduit between industry and education, has announced the appointment of Amer Gaffar as Strategic Advisor as the company continues to expand.

As Director of Manchester Fuel Cell Innovation Centre at Manchester Metropolitan University, Amer will bring with him a wealth of expertise and industry leading knowledge to the business.

As an authority on hydrogen fuel cells, he will be responsible for writing strategy papers, thought leadership articles, and providing insight to be used in developing new partnerships and programmes, while also delivering lectures and CPD sessions for the company.

He said: “Hydrogen Safe is a progressive business with big ambitions and that really appealed to me. I’ve worked in the green energy sector for over two decades now, so it made sense for me to extend my remit and use the knowledge and insight I have developed in this new role.”

Hydrogen Safe CEO and founder, Andy Lord, said: “Amer is a wonderful addition to our team. His appointment reinforces our commitment to attracting industry leading expertise to the company. We know that we can continue to expand the business and become the trusted partner that our clients need us to be. We are very much looking forward to shaping our proposition as we set our sights on becoming the UK’s leading training provider in hydrogen safety.”


Lydia Jones

Student accommodation platform, Housemates, has hired a new head of operations in Martha Sperry.

With strategic partnerships established with sector-known platforms such as HousingHand, Unizportal, Dfavo, Edvoy, Uniabroad, and more, Housemates Connect API is emerging as the leading platform for seamless student accommodation management, the company said.

Lydia Jones, CEO and founder of Manchester-based Housemates, said: “Martha Sperry has joined us from UniHomes and is a key part of this strategic focus, which will drive our efforts in expanding our network and delivering unmatched value to our partners and the student community. At Housemates, we empower student platforms in edtech, travel, and beyond by offering white-labelled accommodation solutions powered by Connect API.”


Lorna Green

A newly-launched initiative, supported by Lloyds Bank to make early-stage business support more accessible to females, has announced MedTech entrepreneur Lorna Green as board chair.

The Lifted Project is a nationwide initiative that is creating regional growth boards in five cities across the UK, in a bid to make high growth entrepreneurship more accessible to women outside London and the South East.

It was set up by Zandra Moore, co-founder and CEO of Panintelligence, a business intelligence software based in Leeds. It was established as a result of a recommendation from a new government taskforce established to boost private investment in women-led businesses across the UK.

The project has created five regional growth boards in Liverpool, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Leeds and Newcastle with the aim of increasing the number of female-founded high growth enterprises by 50% within three years. The initiative is backed and supported by Lloyds Bank and is being led by Lifted Ventures.

Lifted Ventures, co-founded by Jordan Dargue and Helen Oldham, is an early stage investment connector, existing to increase the flow of early stage capital to female founders, and to promote the business benefits of backing women.

The Liverpool City Region growth board is set to be led by Lorna Green, CEO of LYVA Labs, an innovation consultancy and early stage investment company supporting SMEs in the Liverpool City Region she co-founded in 2021. Lorna started her career in the NHS, before working in a variety of commercial private sector roles in MedTech companies including large multinationals and a range of SMEs with various C-level positions in SMEs. Before joining LYVA Labs Lorna was Director for Enterprise and Growth at the Health Innovation Network.

She said: “Since LYVA Labs started investing, 56% of our funds have been deployed to support female founders. This board will enable all those organisations supporting female founders to start-up and scale-up to come together around a shared mission, to affect meaningful change in Liverpool City Region.”

Supporting Lorna as vice-chair is Claire Lewis, the co-founder and CEO of Baltic Ventures, an early-stage tech accelerator and angel syndicate based in Liverpool’s Baltic Triangle. Claire began her career in finance, then went on to become the founder of a digital sustainable beauty start-up which was acquired by a technology investor.


Karen Chadwick

Independent accounting and business advisory firm Hurst has launched a private client tax service which has seen Karen Chadwick join as a partner to lead the new offering.

Karen has 30 years’ experience in the field and has moved from Azets, where she was a tax partner. She previously worked at firms including Deloitte, KPMG and CLB Coopers.

She said: “The partners have recognised there is a need and demand within the firm’s tax service line for a dedicated private client tax offering, and I am thrilled to take up the opportunity to lead it.

“I’m excited to be part of the firm’s journey and to complement the existing partner group and Hurst’s skilled and ambitious team to assist with the future development and growth of the practice. I look forward to applying my experience and technical knowledge to help clients.”

Hurst’s managing partner, Tim Potter, said: “This is an exciting development for Hurst and we are delighted to welcome Karen to the fold. We expect her vast experience and knowledge to be in high demand from our enviable client base of high net worth individuals.”

The firm recently moved its head office to a new flagship development in Stockport to accommodate its growing team, taking 11,000sq ft at 3 Stockport Exchange, the latest phase of a £145m project by Muse Developments and Stockport Council.


From left: Mark Billows, Susan Kenyon, Stephen Bond, Georgina Grice

CoolKit, the Burnley-based specialist in temperature-controlled vans, has carried out a robust business growth strategy in the first part of 2024 increasing its staffing levels by 25%.

As part of the management restructure, which began 12 months ago, a further experienced and highly skilled layer of managers has been appointed to help oversee the business’s rapid increase in prosperity.

Last year, founder Rupert Gatty became Chief Executive, Finance Director Daniel Miller was appointed Managing Director, Mike Scappaticci Sales Director, and Joe Gleave Operations Director. Long serving Gill Hayes remained HR and Finance Manager.

Now, to further solidify the management organisation and accommodate the demands of the enlarged business, Georgina Grice, has been recruited as Head of People, Mark Billows, Health Safety Environmental and Facilities Manager, Stephen Bond, Operations Manager, and Susan Kenyon, Quality Manager.

Georgina said: “The thought of joining an ongoing success story at CoolKit was very appealing. It’s my intention to help further bring organisation, communication and a positive culture to promote wellbeing, equality and transparency within the business.”

Mark added: “I saw joining CoolKit at this exciting stage in its development as a great opportunity to make a difference while having a willingness to learn new skills to help the business move forward.”

Managing Director ,Daniel Miller, said: “I want us to be more visible to customers and I want us somehow to be generating inquiries as the outcome of that visibility. We are the UK’s leading temperature-controlled van converters and I want us to increasingly build on that.”


Harry Proudley and Katie Beckham

Northern Quarter-based Luma Marketing has appointed a PR lead and marketing executive in response to growing and evolving client demands.

The now six-strong team currently supports 15 clients in property, construction and professional services.

Cementing its PR offering, Katie Beckham has been appointed to provide strategic comms guidance and reputation management services to Luma’s existing client base. A practitioner for almost 20 years gathered across both agency and in-house roles, Katie’s extensive built environment experience mirrors that of Luma’s.

Katie is joined by Harry Proudley who will be working alongside agency founder, Lucy Lomas, to develop his marketing strategy prowess.

Lucy Lomas said: “Katie and Harry have joined us at some very critical points of client comms plans and have already made a big impact in their respective fields.”

Luma Marketing operates from Stevenson Square in the heart of Manchester’s Northern Quarter and is a B2B agency specialising in property and professional services.


Alex Atkinson, Liz Sidgwick, Simon Lomiiko, Michelle Merry, Heather Fitton

Independent development and construction consultancy Identity Consult (IC), has announced a flurry of colleague news, alongside a regional restructure, and director-level promotions at its offices in the North West.

Alex Atkinson is promoted to Senior Director, taking charge of the North West business operations across the region, overseeing a 21 person-team operating out of the Preston office, and the Salford office, something she pioneered the establishment of in 2022. Alex will also support her newly promoted counterpart in the North East, Andrew Milnes.

Alex said: “We are continually investing in our people, fostering an environment where everyone can evolve and be considered for promotion from within, supported by bringing in talent for key areas of growth. We are fortunate to support pioneering clients across the region and I look forward to partnering with more of them as we seek to support their delivery of sustainable new developments.”

The promotions also see Michelle Merry promoted to Director of HR and Social Value to ensure a continued focus on people and develop awareness of the wider community impact.

Alongside Alex’s and Michelle’s appointments is the news that Liz Sidgwick joins the North West arm of the business as Associate Director. A former Senior PM at RPS, Liz has delivered property developments across multiple sectors across the North of England and is an active member of Women in Property. Liz said: “I’m looking forward to making my mark at Identity Consult and joining an interesting and growing business. I can’t wait to collaborate with my new colleagues on our North West wide project portfolio.”

Other promotions in Salford and Preston include Chris Allsop’s move to Associate Director, supporting Simon Lomiiko, the director of IC’s QS team. Heather Fitton, who recently passed her APC, has been promoted to Associate, along with Gary Pinch who will join Heather as Associate and further bolster the senior QS team.

Also, Holly Hunting has been offered a role as Trainee QS following a successful period of attending a work placement as part of IC’s social value commitment. In addition, Jade Yarwood will be joining as an Apprentice QS, alongside Joe Pollitt as Assistant QS and Tom Lawson as Assistant PM allowing IC to continue offering opportunities for young people looking for a career in the construction industry. Further recruitment is anticipated in the PM team in the spring as the company continues to grow.

IC managing director, Mark Doherty, said: “Our IC people are the cornerstone of our success, and we are committed to fostering their growth within the company, promoting those already within our team while investing in new recruits, equipping them with the skills and expertise necessary to excel.

“My congratulations to each of these colleagues – these changes will allow continued growth across the company, with the right leadership team in place, and colleagues like Andrew and Alex immersed in their regions and now empowered to make the best decisions around local issues. They and each of our colleagues are in a fantastic position to support more clients in the delivery of all our projects across the North of England.”

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