People: Wake Smith Solicitors; Quickline Communications; Azets; and more

Corporate lawyer John Baddeley is to step down in his role as chairman, shareholder and director at Wake Smith Solicitors to become High Sheriff of South Yorkshire.

Baddeley, who has been at Sheffield-based Wake Smith for 36 years, will take up the ceremonial role from April 8 this year, meaning he will retire and not work for the firm for 12 months while he undertakes his duties.

As he prepares for his new position, head of property Neil Salter becomes the new Wake Smith chairman from 1 January having worked his way up to equity partner/director/shareholder over his 29 years at the firm.

Commercial property director Paul Gibbon also joins the firm’s management board, while director Rebecca Robinson is promoted to head of the corporate team from April 1.

Baddeley said: “I am very proud to be taking up the role as the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire.

“My decision to leave Wake Smith has been an incredibly difficult one; however, the office of High Sheriff is a high honour and it is an immense privilege to be selected.

“I hand over the role of chairman to Neil Salter’s capable hands. I wish him all the best in his new role.”

Salter was an architect of, and one of the original members of Wake Smith’s Management Board, which he re-joined in January 2020, and is an active driver of the success of Wake Smith.

He said: “John being chosen as High Sheriff is a remarkable recognition of his profile in the city and, to an extent, that of Wake Smith.

“Sadly for us, John will be stepping down from the firm whilst he undertakes his duties, as he will be spending substantial amounts of time with the judiciary, and this has the potential for a conflict of interest.

“John has been integral to the development of the spirit and culture of Wake Smith and its continued success, and I would not be surprised if, after his time as High Sheriff, his involvement with the firm may re-commence in some way, shape or form.

“We wish him a fond farewell for now, with a huge sense of pride and admiration on his appointment.

“We also welcome director Paul Gibbon to the management board, who as well as undertaking his commercial property work, will continue as head of marketing, leading Wake Smith’s involvement with the UK200 and the overseeing of legal accreditations Including Lexcel and CQS.

“We are also pleased Rebecca Robinson will become head of our highly regarded corporate team from April. Her appointment is well deserved, and she has our full backing as we grow and invest in our corporate services.”

The role of High Sheriff dates back before the Norman Conquest. There is one in every county in England and Wales. It is a non-political Royal appointment originally responsible for the maintenance of law and order within the county, and the collection of taxes for return to the Crown.

The function has evolved and it is now largely a ceremonial role with responsibility for supporting crime prevention agencies, the emergency services and the voluntary sector.


East Yorkshire-based rural broadband provider, Quickline Communications, has appointed Darryl Petch as its new chief technology officer (CTO).

Petch succeeds Ian Smith who served as CTO for two years and played a key role during a period of rapid growth for Quickline.

With more than 15 years of extensive experience in the telecommunications and IT sectors, Petch brings a wealth of knowledge to his new role. Prior to joining Quickline, he held senior positions at Borderlink/Gofibre and M247. 

He is no stranger to Quickline, having recently provided technology support to the company working with the Project Advisory Group (PAG).

In his new capacity, he will oversee all aspects of Quickline’s technology operations, including network design, systems development and technical support. 

He said: “I was fortunate to work with Quickline to support on the technology aspects of the bidding process for Project Gigabit and was delighted to see such potential and ambition in the company. 

“Whilst supporting the development of the technology side of the business to deliver this game-changing Project Gigabit contract, and working on other technology projects across the UK in recent years, I have gained some great insight and new perspectives which will serve me well at Quickline.

“It’s a really exciting time to join the business and I’m looking forward to working alongside the fantastic team here as we continue to expand our networks and deliver fast and reliable broadband to rural, under-served communities across Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.”

CEO Sean Royce added: “I’m thrilled to welcome Darryl to Quickline’s executive team. His proven track record and deep understanding of the fibre industry will be instrumental in driving our growth strategy forward.”


Steve Holmes

Accountancy and advisory firm, Azets, has made six senior promotions in Yorkshire.

Steve Holmes has been promoted to tax partner in the firm’s Leeds office, one of four partners in the growing business tax advisory team.

He works with entrepreneurs and fast growth companies, specialising particularly in corporate transactions, research and development tax relief and tax efficient share option arrangements.

Also in the Leeds office, Daisy Marsden has become a director in the firm’s audit practice.

Her client base consists of large UK-based and internationally owned groups in a wide variety of sectors including construction, technology services, investment property and manufacturing.

Tom Craddock has become a senior manager in the accounts and business advisory team, alongside manager promotions for Francesca Campbell and Ben Thompson. In the York office, Amie Tanner has been promoted to manager.

They are among a total of 119 mid-year promotions nationwide by Azets, including 11 new partners.

Russell Turner, regional managing director for Yorkshire and at the North East, said: “These well-deserved mid-year promotions reflect the breadth and depth of the expertise and enthusiasm that our smart talented colleagues bring to work every single day.

Daisy Marsden

“This is an opportunity to recognise the strength of talent and diversity we have across the firm in Yorkshire and it’s inspiring to see how those being promoted have already embraced their new roles.

“We are focused on supporting the needs of ambitious businesses and their owners, and our people are at the heart of all we do.

“These promotions further enhance the personalised client services that we deliver to clients in Yorkshire.

“On behalf of myself and everyone at Azets, I want to congratulate our colleagues celebrating promotion, it’s testament to our people and our commitment to hiring and developing the best talent, offering clear routes for career progression.”


The chief executive of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Professor Phil Wood, has been confirmed as chair of Leeds Academic Health Partnership (LAHP), one of the biggest of its kind in the UK.

His appointment follows unanimous endorsement by the partnership’s board last week.

The board comprises the chief executives and vice-chancellors of member organisations from across the city and the region.

It focuses on transforming health and care through research and innovation, prioritising those experiencing the greatest inequalities. It brings together expertise from across member organisations to help solve some of the city’s hardest health challenges.

Wood said: “I would like to thank the LAHP board members for their vote of confidence in me.

“Together, we have a huge opportunity to really make a difference for people in Leeds and beyond. As a city, we are aiming to transform health outcomes and I believe impactful research and innovation is fundamental to success.

“We are strengthening our approach to research and innovation to ensure it includes and serves everyone – across our health and care workforce and especially those in the most deprived communities.

“Leeds Academic Health Partnership is the ideal engine to drive this forward and I’m looking forward to us being able to showcase our impact nationally and internationally.”