People: Northern Gritstone; Ward Hadaway; BRM Solicitors; and more

Northern Gritstone, an investment business focused on university spin-outs and science and technology enabled businesses in northern England, has appointed Khadija Ashfaq as an investment manager.

She joins Northern Gritstone’s investment team, led by chief investment officer, Marion Bernard.

She will be based in the company’s Leeds office, from where a growing number of investments are being completed.

Most recently, the business confirmed investments in Leeds-based companies AssetCool, Optalysys and LC Auxetec

Ashfaq will be responsible for identifying and sourcing potential investment opportunities, negotiating investment deals and managing relationships with companies across the group’s portfolio.

She brings in-depth knowledge of the regional venture capital landscape, having spent five years working for Northstar Ventures. where she has managed investments in a range of sectors, including Life Sciences, Manufacturing and Healthcare.

Launched in July 2021 by the Universities of Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield and chaired by Lord Jim O’Neill, Northern Gritstone is dedicated to investing in university spinouts and start-ups in the North of England, delivering its philosophy of ‘profit with purpose.’

After the company announced its first close of £215m in May 2022, it has already invested in 11 early-stage science and technology-enabled businesses in the North of England.

CEO Duncan Johnson said: “Khadija’s experience of investing in early-stage regional businesses will allow her to make an immediate impact as we increase our investments in the North of England’s most innovative companies.

“Her interest in businesses dedicated to finding new solutions that deliver deeper impact is well-aligned with our ‘profit with purpose’ philosophy and, on behalf of everyone at Northern Gritstone, I’m happy to welcome her to our team.”


Leeds-based law firm Ward Hadaway has made a key strategic appointment in its intellectual property team. 

Sonia Burgess, a highly experienced chartered trademark attorney, joins the team bringing with her considerable specialist expertise in trademark law.

Bill Goodwin, head of IT/IP at Ward Hadaway, who is based in the firm’s Leeds office and is himself a qualified trademark attorney, said: “Sonia’s skillset will provide an invaluable asset to our clients.

“Her joining signifies our ongoing commitment to innovation and service excellence particularly in the trademark field, where our services have been steadily expanding over the last few years.

“It’s an exciting new chapter in our growth, and we’re pleased to have Sonia on board.” 

Sonia, who played a pivotal role in setting up a trademark practice at a previous law firm, complements the skills of the existing team.

This includes other chartered trademark attorneys and a diverse range of intellectual property and commercial law specialists. 

Emma Digby, executive partner at Ward Hadaway in Leeds, said: “Sonia’s addition to our team is an exciting development, reflective of Ward Hadaway’s commitment to continuous growth of our experience and expertise.

“Her unique background will enhance our multidisciplinary approach to trademark law and enable us to further meet the needs of a wider spectrum of clients that require comprehensive trademark legal support.”

Burgess added: “I’m pleased to join Ward Hadaway, which is well known for its excellent client service.

“The firm also has a highly collaborative culture, where everyone works together to achieve the best outcome for clients – which aligns closely with my own values.

“One of the key objectives of my new role is to expand the scope and diversity of our work both regionally and nationally, which is an exciting challenge I’m looking forward to.”


Regional law firm BRM Solicitors has appointed Lewis Hastie as a director of its Sheffield-based Dispute Team.

Hastie joins the firm with more than 14 years’ post qualified experience, specialising predominantly in contentious probate cases and acting in contentious Court of Protection proceedings.

Strengthening both the Dispute and Private Client teams, he arrives at a time of expansion for the departments.

He said: “I am very excited to be joining BRM, a firm that is expanding quickly and is fully committed to providing the best possible service for its clients, really going above and beyond for them.

“I look forward to bringing my strong experience in contentious probate and contentious Court of Protection cases to the firm and positively contributing to the firm’s vision for the future.”

“I look forward to working with the team and helping to expand its growing client base, building on the excellent progress it has made.”

BRM director and head of the firm’s Dispute Team, Rob Cooke, said: “Lewis brings a whole wealth of experience to the team having worked in contentious probate for a number of years.

“It is immediately evident that Lewis really cares about getting to know each of his clients and prides himself in building long-lasting relationships – a value that BRM holds at the heart of the firm.”


Hull-based food producer, Cranswick, says Pam Powell intends to retire as an independent non-executive director of the company with effect from 1 September 2023.

Liz Barber will succeed Powell as chair of the company’s Remuneration Committee which will be undertaking its scheduled three-year review of its Remuneration Policy later this year.

It is expected a further appointment will be made to the Board in due course, who will also become chair of the Remuneration Committee.

Tim J Smith, chairman of Cranswick, said: “I would like to express our thanks to Pam for her contribution to the Board and Cranswick and for her work as chair of the Remuneration Committee since August 2022. We wish Pam well for the future.”