People: Headstar; Rollits; Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park; and more

Leeds-based recruitment consultancy, Headstar, has grown the size of its advisory and portfolio finance director division with five new senior appointments in response to rising demand for its services.

Michael Barnes, Darren Bellwood, Lee Bowers, Kevin Cooke and Mark Woodward have joined the growing business as consultant finance directors, further bolstering a division which already comprises a head of advisory and regional finance director and a wider network of over 25 associate finance directors.

In their new roles, all five, as experienced finance directors, will work with Headstar’s base of clients and contractors, providing advice and support in order to help them shape the right financial model and grow their business.

They will be responsible for delivering a broad range of services to businesses of all sizes, including part-time FD support – where an experienced finance director joins the business on a part-time basis – as well as turnaround and growth support, developing and implementing plans to help companies to thrive.

In addition, they will also work with Headstar’s team of recruitment consultants, who recruit for all areas of a finance team from entry level to CFO, to identify and fulfil staffing solutions.

Barnes will be responsible for supporting clients in Manchester, while Bowers will cover Chesterfield and Nottingham.

Bellwood will cover West and East Yorkshire, while Cooke will focus on South Yorkshire, East Riding and Lincolnshire – with Woodward also supporting clients in South Yorkshire.

Simon Webster, head of advisory, said: “Kevin, Mark, Darren, Lee and Michael all bring a wealth of expertise and experience and the same down to earth character that we look for in all our consultants.

“They join at a time when we’re seeing surging demand for our finance consultancy services, with our team of in-house finance directors and wider network of associate finance directors providing straight-talking, evidence-based advice to help more businesses than ever.

“We expect demand to continue to grow as more businesses become aware of our unique capabilities and plan on further expanding our network of finance directors, in the north of England in particular, over the next few years.”


Law firm Rollits LLP has strengthened its family law services with the recruitment of an additional senior solicitor.

Lilly Walker, a former student of South Hunsley School, returns to work in the area having gained experience with firms across Yorkshire and joins Alison Benson, partner and head of family, and senior solicitor Sarah Wasling in the family law team.

Walker decided on a career in the legal profession after gaining an A-Level in law and then completing work experience placements with local firms.

She graduated from the University of Sheffield in Law and Criminology in 2015 and began her legal career as a dispute management paralegal at Lupton Fawcett, before completing her Training Contract with them in 2019.

She qualified as a solicitor in December 2020 practising in family law. She moved to Jones Myers in York in July 2020 and joined Rollits early this year.

The family law team, which has almost 40 years of shared experience of divorce and separation matters, is based at Rollits’ head office in High Street, Hull.

Benson said: “Our expert teams have supported clients needing help through all types of family law matters for more than 180 years and Lilly’s appointment helps us ensure we continue to tailor our services specifically to the needs of all clients.

“That applies to private and personal matters and to the corporate environment.

“In family and owner managed businesses, operations can be intertwined with relationships and undoubtedly family problems can affect the business if they are not properly managed.”


Dr Sherry Kothari has been appointed as the new chair of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, succeeding Richard Caborn who steps down at the end of February.

With a distinguished career spanning various roles in life sciences, she brings both expertise and vision.

Her professional journey includes leadership roles in the UK and Australia, including as chief executive, company director, and a founder and investor in start-up ventures.

She said: “I am honoured to join Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park as chair.

“The Park represents an exciting opportunity to work with wider stakeholders in tackling health and societal challenges and boosting economic growth for the region.

“I am looking forward to engaging with the team to further the mission and bring about positive change.”

In her previous role as director of the Health Innovation Campus at Lancaster University, she developed and established a regional hub, which brought together multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral stakeholders to focus on social and health inequalities.

She has been involved with organisations such as North West Cancer Research, the Design Council, and Active Lancashire, where she has served in advisory and directorial roles.

She is also a member of the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority Business Advisory Board, working with the Mayor and business leaders from across the region to drive economic growth in South Yorkshire.

Caborn will step down from the role at the end of February after almost a decade leading the vision, creation and growth of the Park and overseeing completion of over £100m of development in the first phase.

He said: “Sherry’s appointment comes at a pivotal point in the development of the next phase of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, as we continue to advance our mission of creating the leading life sciences park in the north of England.

“This has been an exciting and successful journey so far and I am proud to be passing on the baton to a leader who has the skill set, the knowledge and the drive to deliver the next chapter of the Park.

“Under the leadership of Sherry, I’m sure the Park will also play a central role in the development of the South Yorkshire Investment Zone.”

Dr Chris Low, chief executive of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park, added: “It’s been a privilege to work with Richard, to see everything he has achieved since the inception of the Park and all the partners he has brought together to work towards common goals.

“I’m looking forward to welcoming Sherry to Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park with her strategic acumen, passion for societal impact, and the ability to generate significant economic activity.”

Kothari will take up the post from 1 March 2024.


Independent development and construction consultancy Identity Consult (IC) has grown its York-based team following the recruitment of three new colleagues.

IC, which provides clients with excellence in project management, cost consultancy, employer’s agent, principal designer and digital construction services across the UK, established the York office during the pandemic.

The company employs a total of 70 colleagues across its offices also in Salford, Preston and Sunderland.

Senior consultant Sarah Burns and trainee consultant Hassan Ali have joined the team in York. The new recruits join just months after Jen Gathercole, who started at the business as senior consultant earlier in the year.

Speaking of the growth of the York office, which is located on the Westminster Place business park, York office director Mark Allan said: “IC has a great reputation in the North of England, serving big name clients on residential, healthcare, education and other projects.

“Three years ago we made a decision to move the business into Yorkshire, building on the established credentials of IC and developing a new client base in the region.

“We worked on landmark developments including the second phase of Points Cross, a 183 unit apartment scheme in Leeds city centre on behalf of The Guinness Partnership, another Leeds city centre apartment scheme with Wakefield District Housing at Saxton Place providing 100% affordable apartments, the Civic Centre and Library refurbishment and public realm works on behalf of the Conroy Brook Group.

“We have delivered projects in the healthcare and higher and further education sectors, most recently for Barnsley College on their new Motor Vehicle Testing Centre and for Leeds Teaching Hospitals with its redevelopment at the Leeds General Infirmary.

“In addition to our more traditional services we have recently been commissioned by Leeds Beckett University to undertake Post Occupancy Evaluations on two recently completed schemes, and have supported the education provider TEC Partnership to develop its Estates Strategy.

“With a strong pipeline for the future including a 1,500 bed private student residential development at Durham University, we need the best people in our team.

“I am pleased to unveil our newest recruits and to have once again invested in Yorkshire’s up and coming construction talent.”