People on the move: Knights; Business Growth Hub; GMHSC; Begbies Traynor

CHESTER-based professional services business Knights is seeing double in its planning team, following two new hires.

With more than 23 years’ combined experience Matthew Wedderburn and Alice Weston will act as senior associate and planner, respectively – to support the growing demand for planning applications, appeals and consultancy in the North West.
“Chester is an area that’s flourishing,” said Wedderburn, pictured, who has held senior positions within local authorities and within private development companies.Matthew Wedderburn

“With so many businesses expanding and the demand for housing growing across Chester and into Wales and Cheshire, there is real need for expert planning services in the region.”

In their new roles at Knights, Wedderburn and Weston will be preparing residential and commercial planning applications as well as guiding clients through the appeals process.

Weston, a recently chartered planner said: “I was attracted to Knights because of the varied case load and clear vision for growth that the company has. By growing the legal offer to include other services we’re able to give clients a more complete service.”

Knights is currently the fastest-growing professional services firm in the UK – having made more than 200 hires this year alone, bringing its team to over 375 professionals. As the first business to receive private equity backing in the UK, Knights is able to offer more than just legal services, including planning, real estate, education and franchising.
Sally Wightman, office leader at the Chester office said: “Knights already has a fantastic reputation for planning services across the UK. This is a really exciting time for Chester – there are a lot of key business players in the area and we see this as the perfect opportunity to grow our team to meet the needs of our thriving customers.”

Knights is a UK top-70 law firm with more than 375 professionals and a £40m turnover. The firm has offices in Newcastle-under-Lyme, Cheltenham, Chester, Hale, Derby, Oxford and Colchester.

BUSINESS Growth Hub has strengthened its partnerships with Greater Manchester universities with the joint appointment of Susan Warburton as innovation business development manager for the University of Bolton.

Warburton has more than 25 years’ business development experience, working in senior business support positions at the Business Growth Service and organisations such as Magma Digital.
In these roles, Susan was responsible for delivering bespoke solutions to help Greater Manchester businesses grow.

In her new position Warburton will work as part of the Hub’s Innovation Growth Service, acting as the link between businesses and the university.

She will be responsible for promoting engagement with the university’s academic schools, research institutes and employers to create opportunities for businesses to innovate and grow through technology transfer and research collaboration.

The appointment comes as Business Growth Hub, part of the Manchester Growth Company (MGC), seeks to boost its collaboration with the four Greater Manchester universities.

In addition to University of Bolton, the Hub is seeking to appoint specialist development managers for University of Manchester, University of Salford, and Manchester Metropolitan University, allowing the businesses that work with the Hub to access academic knowledge and research facilities to support innovation and business growth.

Warburton said: “Centres of research and innovation such as University of Bolton are powerful assets, and have the potential to contribute a great deal to the growth ambitions of Greater Manchester’s business community.

“With collaboration between the Hub’s Innovation team, businesses, and the university, we can inspire new, innovative ideas that can translate to successful businesses.

“I’m delighted to have the opportunity to be at the heart of that process and I’m excited about the possibilities this partnership brings.”


THE Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership – the body overseeing devolution of health and social care in Greater Manchester – has announced a new senior director.

Dr Richard Preece will become the executive lead for quality – his role will be to establish functional relationships with clinical, professional, regulatory, research and patient groups across all areas of health and social care in Greater Manchester to influence and shape the delivery of exceptional levels of quality of care.

He will work closely with the 37 NHS organisations and councils in the city region, which forms the GMHSC Partnership that has taken charge of the £6bn health and social care budget.

Preece joins from Allied Healthcare, where he has been medical director for NHS community health services and the largest provider of homecare in the UK.
Immediately prior to this he was a NHS consultant in occupational medicine practising in Cheshire and at The Christie Hospital in Manchester. He has previously held senior management roles at Saga (the leading provider of services for over 50s in the UK) and AstraZeneca UK.

In the past three years he has worked closely with the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on the implementation of the Care Act in England supporting the development of its new inspection and market oversight regime.

Preece said: “This is a fabulous opportunity for me to play my part to ensure Greater Manchester has consistently good quality across all of its health and social care services.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of working closely with all partners across GM to make the aspirations of GM’s plans a reality for the benefit of patients and local communities.”

Two weeks ago the Partnership announced the first three new senior executives to join the management team.

Richard Jones (executive lead for adult social care), Nicky O’Connor (chief operating officer) and Steve Wilson (executive lead finance and investment) will join the senior management team in the next two months.


INDEPENDENT business recovery and insolvency practitioner Begbies Traynor has boosted its Preston office with the appointment of two new insolvency managers.

Paul Valentine joins the firm from McAlister & Co Insolvency and has 13 years’ insolvency experience covering the whole of the North West.
Chris Lawton comes on board at Begbies Traynor with more than 11 years of experience in the insolvency industry. He has worked for a number of well-known industry names including Duff & Phelps and Leonard Curtis.

Ian McCulloch, director of the corporate insolvency team in Preston, said: “It’s great to have two such high calibre experienced insolvency professionals as Chris and Paul coming on board. 

“Both have a great track record of assisting local accountancy practices who have clients who are encountering financial difficulties and they add to the depth of our team at the Preston office. 

“As demand for our services grows in the region, we are investing in more local staff to provide an ever improving service to our clients.”

North West-based Begbies Traynor Group, which has its head office in Manchester, is listed on AIM and offers corporate recovery and restructuring services, as well as corporate finance, forensic accounting and investigations services from its 37 UK offices.

The firm’s 25-strong Preston office provides services for clients across the whole of Lancashire as well as throughout Cumbria to Barrow in the West and Carlisle in the North.