Yorkshire Rainmakers 2023 winners revealed

2023’s Yorkshire Rainmaker of the Year is Clarion corporate partner Jonathan Simms.

Clarion’s corporate team has advised on 40 completed M&A transactions over the last 12 months and has retained its ranking as the most active law firm in the region for the past 5 years.

Jonathan joked that his goal had been survival. More seriously, he praised his team – “without them I’m dead in the water” and Yorkshire’s finance community.

“This is a great community,” he said. “I love working in this community. I talk about my team, I talk about all of you as well. So many days when if I’m not feeling particularly motivated, I  get out of bed because I know if I’m not talking to my clients, you will be.”

Yorkshire Rainmakers 2023 winners

Changemaker of the Year Nicola McQuaid  of NorthEdge formed and led her DE&I team with focused on values, behaviours and an inclusive culture.

Nicola McQuaid of NorthEdge, our Changemaker of the Year

She said, “It’s important we embrace outside talent in our industry. The danger if we don’t relentlessly pursue DE&I is that we lose out on really great people. My big ask to everybody in this room would be don’t be a bystander.”

Around 300 finance professionals gathered at the Queen’s Hotel, Leeds, on Thursday evening for 2023 awards, hosted by stand-up comedian Jimmy McGhie. The awards, sponsored by Gilbanks, Hall Brown Family Law, Jacob Brian Tailors, Tyr and Vertu, were judged on a “one firm, one vote” basis following a shortlisting process in May.



Category Winners and Runners-up

Rising Star

Sponsored by Tyr

Winner: Hannah Kirkup – Key Capital Partners


  • Tom Hopwood – Addleshaw Goddard
  • Rob Johnson – BGF
  • John O’Gara – Sentio Partners
  • Connie Smith – Mercia Asset Management
  • Ben Taylor – KPMG

Teams – Transaction Services

Winner: Grant Thornton


  • BDO UK
  • Dow Schofield Watts
  • KPMG
  • PwC
  • RSM

Teams – Legal

Winner: Addleshaw Goddard


  • Clarion
  • Freeths
  • Gordons
  • Squire Patton Boggs
  • Ward Hadaway

Teams – Funder

Winner: HSBC


  • NatWest
  • OakNorth Bank
  • Santander
  • Shawbrook Bank
  • ThinCats

Teams – Corporate Finance

Sponsored by Jacob Brian Tailors

Winner: Sentio Partners


  • Clearwater International
  • Dow Schofield Watts
  • Grant Thornton
  • KPMG
  • Park Place Corporate Finance

Teams – VC/Private Equity

Sponsored by Vertu Motors

Winner: LDC


  • BGF
  • Enact
  • Endless
  • Key Capital Partners
  • YFM Equity Partners

Individual Changemaker

Sponsored by Hall Brown Family Law

Winner: Nicola McQuaid – NorthEdge


  • Megan Atack – Freeths
  • Alexandra Fogal – EY
  • Carly Gulliver – Addleshaw Goddard
  • Linda Nguyenova – BGF
  • Jeremy Thomas – Deloitte

Deals – Small Cap (up to £15m)

Winner: YorkTest Laboratories secured a £10m investment from NVM Private Equity: Squire Patton Boggs, Walker Morris, Ward Hadaway, Mazars, PwC, NVM Private Equity


  • XR Games raised £5.9m in a funding round: Act Media Ventures, Praetura Ventures, Maven Capital Partners, Gateley, Lewis Silkin, Park Place Corporate Finance
  • Definition Agency secured £7m in growth capital from ThinCats: ThinCats, Freeths, Clarion, Ryecroft Glenton
  • Manufacturer Bartoline received further funding from Enact: Addleshaw Goddard, Enact, Gordons
  • Operam Education Group received follow-on investment by BGF: MFG Solicitors, Ward Hadaway, Dow Schofield Watts, BGF, Gordons
  • Tribepad received a £12m investment from BGF: BGF, Squire Patton Boggs, Tax Advisory Partnership

Deals – Private Company

Winner: Arc Inspirations received a £19m investment, from BGF to support the accelerated rollout of its Banyan Bar & Kitchen, BOX and Manahatta brands: Gordons, Squire Patton Boggs, KPMG, BGF


  • My Pension Expert secured an eight-figure investment from Palatine Private Equity to support its growth plans: Addleshaw Goddard, Gateley, Park Place Corporate Finance, Capital, Kroll, Beechbrook, Palatine Private Equity
  • The Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) secured investment from LDC as part of a carve-out from RICS: LDC, Shoosmiths, Addleshaw Goddard, KPMG, PwC
  • Morrisons agreed a pre-pack deal with administrators PwC to acquire McColl’s Retail Group: Ashurst, PwC
  • Twinkl secured an undisclosed minority investment from Vitruvian Partners to help further grow its international presence: Vitruvian Partners, PwC, Squire Patton Boggs
  • The Harrogate Cashmere Company secured an undisclosed equity investment from Anticus Partners: Mincoffs Solicitors, Ward Hadaway, Anticus Partners
  • Gravity Fitness secured £30m funding to support its expansion plans, including the opening of new trampoline parks: Guinness Asset Management, Sculptor Capital Management

Deals – International

Winner: Irish utilities group Beauparc Utilities acquired Acumen Waste Services: Burges Salmon, Clarion Solicitors, BDO, Park Place Corporate Finance


  • Ligentia Group bought Polish logistics business VGL Solid Group: Addleshaw Goddard, Skadden Arps Slate, DC Advisory, Santander UK, Equistone, Ingka Investments, Varma Mutual Pension, Squire Patton Boggs
  • French manufacturer Verallia acquired Allied Glass Containers for £315m from Sun European Partners: DLA Piper, Addleshaw Goddard, White & Case, EY, Sun European Partners LLP
  • Spanish group Urbaser bought Biowise: Michelmores LLP, Ward Hadaway, Alvarez & Marsal, KPMG, Willis Towers Watson
  • German chemicals distributor Brenntag acquired Prime Surfactants: Addleshaw Goddard, EY, Sentio Partners
  • New York-based investment firm Cambridge Information Group acquired Emerald Group: DWF, KPMG

Deals – Public Markets

Winner: Marshalls acquired Marley, supported by a £187m accelerated bookbuild: Pinsent Masons, Slaughter & May, Grant Thornton, Numis Securities, Rothschild & Co


  • Powerhouse Energy formed a joint venture with Hydrogen Utopia International to develop an operational waste plastic-to-hydrogen facility: WH Ireland
  • Benchmark Holdings raised NOK158m (£13m) in a secondary listing on Euronext Growth Oslo: Stifel/KBW
  • EG Group/Asda bought the fuel retail operations of Co-operative Group in a deal valued at £605m: Addleshaw Goddard, Rothschild & Co, PwC
  • Xeros Technology Group raised £6m in a share placing: FinnCap
  • Avacta acquired Launch Diagnostics in a deal worth up to £37m, part-funded by a £7m placing: Walker Morris, Stifel/KBW

Deals – Private Equity Exit

Winner: Phoenix Equity Partners exited Nexus Vehicle Rental after its sale to Equistone: Addleshaw Goddard, Squire Patton Boggs, Rothschild & Co, PwC, Park Place


  • LDC exited Driver Hire owner Specialist People Services Group after a secondary buy-out led by Pricoa Private Capital: Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Squire Patton Boggs, Clearwater
    International, KPMG, Sentio
  • Marshalls acquired roofing manufacturer Marley from exiting investor Inflexion Private Equity Partners in a £535m deal: Pinsent Masons, Grant Thornton, Lazard, Numis Securities, Slaughter and May, Peel Hunt, Rothschild & Co, PwC
  • American REIT Sun Communities bought Park Leisure 2000 from a consortium led by investment firm Midlothian Capital Partners in a deal valued at £182m: Jones Day, Slaughter and May, Rothschild & Co
  • SLS Group bought laboratory products specialist Gem Scientific from Solingen Private Equity: Ward Hadaway, Dow Schofield Watts, RSM
  • French manufacturer Verallia acquired Allied Glass Containers from exiting investor Sun European Partners for £315m: DLA Piper, Addleshaw Goddard, White & Case, EY, Robert W Baird & Co

Deals – M&A

Winner: Hippo Digital acquired data consultancy The Data Shed: Grant Thornton, Squire Patton Boggs, Armstrong, KPMG, DWF, Vista Insurance, NatWest, Addleshaw Goddard


  • AG Barr acquired Boost Drinks from its founders Simon and Alison Gray for up to £32m: Pinsent Masons, Piper Group
  • Progeny Group acquired The Fry Group, with four UK offices and four international offices: Squire Patton Boggs, Foot Anstey, PwC
  • LDC backed an MBO led by chairman Tim Williams and CEO Martyn Stevens of Cellhire Group: Walker Morris, Grant Thornton, KPMG, Virgin Money, LDC, Squire Patton Boggs
  • Redcentric bought the business and assets of data centres and network services from Sungard Availability Services, in a deal worth up to £18m: Clarion Solicitors, FinnCap
  • JCT600 acquired VW retailer Caygill Holdings: Gordons, LCF Law, Translink Corporate Finance, Grant Thornton

Individual Rainmaker

Sponsored by Gilbanks

Winner: Jonathan Simms – Clarion


  • Will Arnold – Sentio Partners
  • Richard Hunt – Addleshaw Goddard
  • Barry Jackson – BGF
  • Paul Mann – Squire Patton Boggs
  • Duncan Morpeth – Grant Thornton


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