People: Gorvins; University of Salford Business School; Oldham Active; Kuits; Armstrong Watson; Autism Together

Patricia Robinson

Gorvins Solicitors has appointed Patricia Robinson to the position of partner and co-head of family to support growing demand for services in this area of expertise.

With more than 25 years’ experience, Patricia joins the Stockport-based firm following a seven-year tenure as partner at another practice.

Having qualified in 1999, Patricia specialises in all aspects of family law and has particular expertise in resolving complex financial issues arising from divorce and nuptial agreements.

Recognised in both the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners legal directories as a family lawyer with significant experience in advising on financial aspects of divorce, as well as assisting clients with children-related disputes.

Mark Deverell, managing partner at Gorvins Solicitors, said: “‘We are very pleased to welcome Patricia to Gorvins as Partner and co-head of our Matrimonial team to continue its growth as an important part of the firm and service for our clients.

“Patricia brings with her a vast amount of experience after being a partner in another South Manchester law firm for a number of years. She approaches what is often a very challenging area of the law with a truly collaborative approach and always looks to the positive. She is a great addition for the firm and her colleagues and continues our planned growth with the addition of exceptional hires to compliment the culture of the firm and how we deliver our services for and to our clients.”


Dr Maria Allen

University of Salford Business School has appointed Dr Maria Allen to the role of Associate Dean Academic (Quality Assurance and Enhancement) from September 2024.

Maria, who has more than 20 years’ experience in higher education, joins from Manchester Metropolitan University’s (MMU) Business School, where she has held various departmental and faculty positions, including Programme Leader, Departmental Education Lead and Faculty Employability Lead. Throughout her career, she has had a significant impact on improving students’ career prospects and graduate outcomes through her work on the curriculum, spearheading numerous strategic initiatives on work-related learning that transformed the employability of students and gave them a greater chance of achieving their ambitions.

She said: “As someone who has proudly lived and worked in Greater Manchester my entire life, I am excited about joining Salford Business School, a dynamic and fast-growing institution that prioritises local roots and global ambition. By placing students at the heart of everything it does, University of Salford echoes my own values and aspirations for students. It is an ideal place for me to contribute and grow.”

Liz Larner, PVC (Pro Vice-Chancellor) Interim Dean, Salford Business School, said: “We’re thrilled to welcome somebody who is as well respected as Maria to the School. Maria’s experience and career to-date is outstanding. We’ve seen first-hand the work she’s done at MMU and we’re excited for her to lead the Salford Business School team on its strategic work in enhancing learning, teaching and quality assurance, as aligned to the university’s priorities.”


Simon Blair

Oldham Active (Oldham Community Leisure) has promoted Simon Blair to a pivotal new role as Deputy CEO, overseeing all commercial facets of the business, customer experience and marketing.

Blair’s promotion from Business Development Manager follows Oldham Active’s strategic review of its Executive Management Team. The new role was created due to the recent retirement of Oldham Active’s Chief Operating Officer, Glenn Tolan, and is designed to ensure the continued growth and success of the charitable leisure trust, by focusing on key areas crucial to its stakeholders and customers.

Blair’s key responsibilities include overseeing brand managers for fitness, swimming and junior coached activities, managing central customer service operations and CRM, and directing all marketing and communications efforts for the company. He will also support Oldham Active’s CEO, Stuart Lockwood, and assume responsibility for critical matters in his absence.

Lockwood said: “We believe this new structure will drive Oldham Active forward, ensuring we continue to deliver exceptional health and wellbeing provisions to our community. We are passionate about improving life outcomes for the people of Oldham and are confident that Simon will excel in this role and contribute significantly to our ongoing success.”

Blair said: “I am thrilled to be promoted to Deputy CEO of Oldham Active. This new role allows me to further Oldham Active’s mission of promoting health and wellness within our community, whilst leading an incredible team. I am excited about the opportunity to drive impactful initiatives, foster strong partnerships, and enhance the overall experience for our customers. This promotion is not only a professional milestone but also a chance to contribute more significantly to a cause I am deeply passionate about.”


Sam Pepper

Manchester commercial law firm, Kuits solicitors, has further strengthened its dispute resolution team with the appointment of Senior Associate, Sam Pepper.

Sam brings to Kuits significant experience in commercial litigation matters, particularly in bankruptcy and winding up proceedings which makes him a valuable addition to the firm’s dispute resolution team. Sam’s appointment comes at a time of significant growth for Kuits and its dispute resolution team which is now one of the largest in Manchester.

Nichola Evans, Head of Dispute Resolution at Kuits, said: “Sam’s extensive experience and proven track record in commercial litigation will be instrumental in supporting our clients’ diverse legal needs and driving our continued growth. His appointment aligns with our strategy to strengthen our offering and maintain the highest standards of service excellence.”

Sam Pepper said: “I am very pleased to join Kuits and work alongside such a talented team. Kuits has a strong reputation for its client-centric approach and its commitment to delivering outstanding legal services. I look forward to contributing to the firm’s continued success and helping our clients achieve their business objectives.”


Paul Dickson and Karen Thomson

Armstrong Watson, accountants, business and financial advisers, has revealed that Karen Thomson will be returning to her role as Partner and Head of Payroll based at the firm’s head office in Carlisle.

Karen previously spent seven years at Armstrong Watson developing the payroll service to a nationally recognised and award-winning standard before leaving to head up AAB’s payroll service for two years.

Karen has vast experience within the payroll profession and boasts a number of influential payroll titles including Chair of the CIPP’s Special Interest Group representing Accountancy Payroll Bureaus and Vice Chair of Local Government Pensions Scheme (Cumberland). She also sits on a number of forums including HMRC policies, Admin Burdens Advisory Board, the Employment Payment Group, CIOT Payroll Employment Tax and ICAS Payroll Employment Tax.

She said: “I am looking forward to returning to Armstrong Watson to once again head up the payroll service and the highly-skilled team. I see this as a real opportunity to further expand the Armstrong Watson payroll offering, working closely with my colleagues in employment tax, financial planning and IT, amongst others, to enhance our client services and to support businesses through the utilisation of new technology, AI and RPA.”

Welcoming Karen’s return to Head of Payroll, Armstrong Watson’s CEO, Paul Dickson, said: “There is no doubt that Karen’s first hand knowledge and experience will once again, be a huge asset to Armstrong Watson’s client proposition. Karen has an enviable vision for the Armstrong Watson payroll service, and we look forward to embracing her vast experience and expansive knowledge to advance cross service line collaboration, utilise new technology and extend our client services.”


From left: Josie McKeown, Paul Alcock, Christina Davies

Specialist support charity, Autism Together, has made three recent senior appointments, bolstering its leadership team.

First, Christina Davies has stepped up from Financial Controller to become Director of Finance, replacing retiring director Louise Parnell. Christina has enjoyed a successful career with Autism Together, joining the organisation in 2009, growing her skills and experience within the Finance Team before progressing to director level.

Christina said: “I am very proud to have become a director at Autism Together. I look forward to using the knowledge and experience I have built up in my 15 years working within this wonderful charity to help the Executive Team succeed with their exciting vision for our organisation.”

From its Bromborough base in Wirral, Autism Together cares for autistic people of all ages, with around 800 staff providing residential, supported living, and day services to more than 400 autistic adults, and support to many more families across the region.

Christina’s appointment comes alongside two important new senior additions to the charity, with Paul Alcock becoming Head of Learning Culture, and Josie McKeown the new Head of People Services.

Paul joins the organisation following a background in teaching. He has begun building a positive culture for both internal and external training to thrive in – ensuring learning is more accessible and appropriate, personalising the learning experience for staff, and championing personal and professional development through learning.

Josie’s career in human resources has seen her manage both customer service and personnel departments for more than 10 years. Working mainly in the North West charity sector, her previous role was Head of People & Culture at Woodlands Hospice in Liverpool.

Richard Whitby, CEO of Autism Together, said: “It’s fantastic to see these significant senior appointments now in place. With the support of Christina, Paul, and Josie, we can continue to take important steps forward in achieving our exciting five-year strategic vision for the organisation – to invest in our people, redefine our charitable purpose, develop our estate portfolio, grow our services, create a community learning culture, and deliver continuous improvement.”

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