People: Key Fund; Pick & Mix; Bigvits; and more

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Key Fund, a social investor for the North, has appointed Sam Keighley as its new chair.

She replaces Hugh Rolo, who co-founded Key Fund and has been a central figure in its development.

Key Fund was created in Sheffield in response to the collapse of the coal and steel industries in South Yorkshire. As a financial intermediary, it helped local communities access EU funding for regeneration projects.

Today, Key Fund provides flexible loans and grants to community and social enterprises traditionally excluded by mainstream finance. The organisation now operates across the North and the Midlands.

Matt Smith, CEO of Key Fund, said: “Hugh played an instrumental role in developing the social investment model and is a true pioneer, as well as a personal mentor and friend.

“He leaves Key Fund in a very strong position, with a robust board and management team, despite the challenges of COVID-19. As such, it’s a good point to welcome Sam to the role.”

For six years, Keighley was chief executive of the Carlisle Business Centre in Manningham, Bradford.

Under her leadership, with Key Fund investment, she led a change management programme to increase its turnover to £750,000 and secured £1m from Power to Change to support community businesses and regenerate the area.

She said: “As someone who has been a client of Key Fund, I bring my experience on the ground to the role of chair, working with diverse and disadvantaged communities.

“Hugh is incredibly well-respected and regarded in our sector, so I have very big boots to fill.

“But I’m really looking forward to working with the Key Fund at a time when its work has never been so vital or needed.

“COVID-19 has widened inequalities in our society. My ambition is to help Key Fund broaden and deepen its reach across the North and the East and West Midlands, to ensure no communities are excluded.”

Keighley is currently a strategic director at Yorkshire Sport Foundation, part of Sport England’s Extended Workforce Team.

She began her career in the sports sector, before moving to Bradford in 2000 to manage a community regeneration through sports programme.

It led to a 20-year career in community regeneration, business start-ups, and growth in Bradford, where she has worked across the voluntary and community enterprise sector, and held numerous voluntary trustee and chair roles, including at Bradford District Credit Union.

Rolo said: “As I step down, I feel confident in passing on the responsibility and the joy of being chair of Key Fund to Sam Keighley.

“I’m immensely proud Key Fund has remained a values-driven organisation. During one of recent history’s biggest crises, the organisation continues to play a leadership role, while sticking to its guns.”

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Rachel Shoobridge

Pick & Mix, a York-based social media agency, has appointed two new team members alongside an intern to support its ongoing growth in 2021.

Rachel Shoobridge joined the team in February as account manager bringing with her a wealth of experience within the food, drink and hospitality sectors.

She has joined to help support the business growth and manage new and existing client accounts as well as new team members as they come on board.

Jessica Valenghi, director at Pick & Mix Marketing, said: “It’s been a fantastic start to 2021 for the team and welcoming Rachel has been a breath of fresh air.

“Rachel is a hit with clients already and we are excited to see her role develop and her client list grow as we continue to expand as a company.”

Chloe Wescott

The team has also most recently welcomed Chloe Wescott who has come on board as social media assistant after graduating last year.

She graduated with a First-Class degree with distinction in English & Global Literature from the University of York in 2020.

Since completing her degree, Wescott has worked as a freelance journalist alongside digital communication roles within local charities CoppaFeel and Planned Parenthood.

Valenghi added: “Chloe has recently come on board to support clients with content creation and training, she has hit the ground running since coming on board and I know all our clients will join me in welcoming her.”

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Yorkshire retailer and distributor Bigvits has appointed a non-executive director and grown into a new 22,000sq ft Driffield distribution centre.

Industry heavyweight Richard Millman, who advises and works with various brands across the health and wellbeing sector, has joined the firm.

He said: “Bigvits is a thriving business sitting on a multi-million pound opportunity in the wellbeing space.

“Growth in this sector has skyrocketed over the last few years and we see no sign of this slowing. As consumers flock to online shopping, they’re looking for the quality and trust that well established brands like Bigvits can provide.”

He arrives with over 20 years of Board level experience across the consumer and business sectors.

Earlier this year the Driffield-based internet retailer acquired a majority stake in Dutch firm By Nature, growing group revenue to over £18m.

Will Brennand, joint managing director of Bigvits, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Richard to the Board, where we know his experience and strategic insights will help us to grow our business and better serve our customers.

“Growing the Bigvits warehouse space also gives us room to accommodate a massive increase in orders we have seen due to COVID-19 and is a platform for further growth.”

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Leeds-headquartered property regeneration consultants AspinallVerdi have expanded into the North East, with the appointment of Brett Devenish to head a new office in Newcastle.

The office will serve the entire North East and represents the latest addition to the firm’s network of offices in Leeds, Liverpool and London.

Having worked in the private and public sectors in the North East for the past 14 years, Devenish joins AspinallVerdi from Capita, where he was head of property for the international outsourcing consultancy’s partnership with North Tyneside Council, as well as working with clients across England.

He has extensive experience in development viability, regeneration, valuation, disposals and property management.

His remit includes adding new clients to AspinallVerdi’s existing work in the North East for Homes England, Northumberland County Council, and Tees Valley Combined Authority.

And as the firm’s workload across the region grows, AspinallVerdi plans to recruit further staff to join him when he secures dedicated office space in Newcastle.

Devenish said: “AspinallVerdi is a well-respected and growing firm, and I firmly believe its culture matches my own philosophy. I’m looking forward to the challenge of growing the brand further in the North East and beyond.”

AspinallVerdi chairman, Atam Verdi, added: “The opening of an office in Newcastle follows a number of successful years of growth in commissions in the North East.

“Securing Brett and his established track record is an exciting new chapter. This will grow our capabilities and assist our clients in achieving their goals of unlocking development.”

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