Confirmed Judges 2018

Mauricio Armellini
Bank of England, Agent for the North East

View Mauricio’s Biography

Lucy Armstrong
Chief Executive, The Alchemists

View Lucy’s Biography

David Balme
University of Sunderland

View David’s Biography

Jodie Barwick-Bell
Former Chair of Chartered Institute of Taxation North East England

View Jodie’s Biography

Jonathan M Beckerlegge FCCA
Senior Partner, Sovereign Global Partners

View Jonathan’s Biography

Chris Blaxall
Performance Horizon Group

Keith Charlton
Investment Executive – FW Capital

View Keith’s Biography

Philip Clare
Partner, Muckle LLP

View Philip’s Biography

George Clark
Retired Performance Specialist with the Audit Commission

View George’s Biography

Deborah Collins
AAT Tyne and Wear Branch

View Deborah’s Biography

David Coppock 
North East Region Director, Department for International Trade

View David’s Biography

Alan Fletcher
Chairman, Square One Law LLP

View Alan’s Biography

Brian Foreman

View Brian’s Biography

James Kyle
Investment Director, Rathbone Investment Management

View James’s Biography

Tim Mallon
Development Director, Leathers LLP

View Tim’s Biography

John McGee
Finance Director, Grainger Management Ltd

View John’s Biography

Richard Morgan
Associate Director – Finance, HR, Supply Chain & Prof. Services, Nigel Wright Recruitment


Robert Phillips
Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson

View Robert’s Biography

Peter Robinson
Partner, Mincoffs


Gillian Sayburn
Chair, ACCA Northern Counties Network and Director, Begbies Traynor

View Gillian’s Biography

Fiona Standfield
Witton House Associates

View Fiona’s Biography

Jeremy Smith
Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson

View Jeremy’s Biography

David Bradshaw
Association of Tax Technicians


Tony Barras
Commercial Manager, HSBC


Alex Odd

Mauricio Armellini, Bank of England, Agent for the North East

Mauricio has been Agent for the Bank of England for the North East since 2014. Prior to that, he was Chief Economist at the North East LEP, Principal Economist for the Department for Work and Pensions and teacher of economics at Durham University. Before coming to the UK for his PhD studies at Durham in 2005, Mauricio worked as a professional economist in his native Uruguay in the financial and non-for-profit sectors.

Lucy Armstrong, Chief Executive, The Alchemists 

Lucy is chief executive of The Alchemists, which works with high growth mid-corporate businesses to accelerate their development and success by focussing on shareholder and management development and succession. Her experience ranges from funding start up and early stage manufacturing businesses in the North East through to mergers and disposals of international operations. 

Lucy joined The Alchemists in 2003 after an early career in private equity, corporate development and headhunting with 3i plc, Courtaulds Textiles and Tyzack.  She chaired Capital for Enterprise, the forerunner to the British Business Bank and the CBI's national Small Business Forum from 2010 to 2013.  Lucy is chair of the independent Professional Standards Council, which oversees the Asset Based Finance Association and the national Enterprise Research Centre, focused on the study of growth in private and family businesses. She is a former chair of Northumbria University. 

She was educated at Oxford, holds an MBA and a MSc in forensic psychology and criminology. Her spare time is frittered away with a trans-Atlantic think tank and walking along Northumberland's deserted beaches. She has recently learnt to dive and is seeking ways to combine this with her other hobbies, chainsawing and church bellringing.

David Balme - Director of Continuous Improvement, Change and Compliance (and Head of Internal Audit), University of Sunderland 

Having worked in local government for almost 9 years David joined KPMG in 2001. During his time with KPMG he worked in the FE / HE assurance and advisory teams. In 2005 David joined the University of Sunderland as Deputy Director of Planning and Finance and from 2009 as the Director of the Business Assurance Service. In June 2017 David was appointed to head up the newly formed Continuous Improvement, Change and Compliance Service.

Jodie Barwick-Bell, Former Chair of Chartered Institute of Taxation North East England

Jodie is a Chartered Tax Adviser and is Former Chairman of the North East England branch of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and Association of Taxation Technicians. 
Jodie specialises in taxation for High Net Worth families. She trained as a tax adviser at Deloitte and then worked at KPMG’s Newcastle office for 13 years, leading the Private Client Tax practice there from 2008 to 2013. 
Jodie left KPMG to work in-house for high net worth families. Jodie was initially a Director at Vardy Family Office and now is Head of Family Office at HMC Group.

Jonathan M Beckerlegge FCCA, Senior Partner, Sovereign Global Partners 

When Jonathan became President of SGP Capital, it was due to his vast experience and ability take SGP into new markets and territories, whilst building on the success and reputation we have developed for delivering targets for our clients. 

Jonathan is looking forward to growing SGP into a world leader in the Accountancy, Investment and Management Consultancy fields. He has been with the ACAL group since 2009 and became President of SGP in 2013 and Chairman and CEO of Centralus Ltd. Jonathan is a Certified Accountant (member of the AIA and ACCA) by profession and training, he started his accountancy career in London, in practice, and after 7 years relocated to York and joined an accountancy practice, in 1975. After spending nearly 30 years there in which time he served on the ACCA Council for 18 years and had the great honour of being their President in 2002/03. He also served on the EU accountancy Body (FEE) Ethics Working Party for more than 10 years as well as an Italian/UK Bilateral Committee and was a member of the APB. 

Jonathan is a bio-diesel expert from experience and moved in this area in 2007, he and his colleagues worked in a new company developing the biodiesel concept of “turning the desert green” and then moved overseas to sell the idea which they successfully did for both Egypt and Libya. Jonathan is also a Lecturer in business ethics, is an Accountant member of the ACCA Disciplinary Committee, a trustee of the ACCA Benevolent Fund, Trustee and Treasurer to the Association of Charitable Organisations (An umbrella organisation for benevolent societies) as well as Trustee of The Kyaninga Child Development Centre Trust, a charity supporting work with disabled children in the Fort Portal Region of Northern Uganda. 

Keith Charlton, Investment Executive, FW Capital 

Keith is a Chartered Accountant and has been active in the venture capital and investment sector for over 16 years. He currently works as an Investment Executive for FW Capital, making and managing investments in growing North East based SME businesses. 

Prior to this, Keith qualified as a Chartered Accountant in the City of London, then worked as a Senior Executive in the Supervision Division of the Securities and Investments Board (now the FCA) and as a Regulatory Adviser in the Listing Department of the London Stock Exchange. Upon returning to his native North East he has provided fund raising, disposal, pre-investment appraisal/due diligence and financial management and consultancy services and acted in Finance Director roles to a number of local businesses. He has gained a valuable understanding of SME businesses and the difficulties they face raising funds, as well as first-hand experience of the key drivers of successful businesses. 

Professional Qualification – FCA

Philip Clare, Muckle LLP 

Philip is a Partner in the Corporate Team at Muckle LLP. He advises clients on a whole range of corporate finance matters, such as business acquisitions and disposals, public company transactions and corporate reorganisations. He frequently acts for clients buying or selling businesses and also regularly advises on company law and corporate governance matters.

George Clark, Retired Performance Specialist with the Audit Commission 

With over 40 years in public service George has delivered audit, inspection, financial services and corporate governance advice to a range of public sector organisations Spent 25 years at Newcastle City Council where he rose to the post of Chief Internal Auditor and head of risk management and insurance. 

Joined the Audit Commission as an Inspector delivering over 50 assessments across a range of Local Authority, Health, Police and Fire Services. After being made redundant from the Commission in February 2011, George has gone on to use his skills on Boards, Audit Committees or Governance Committees of Gateshead Housing Company, Your Homes Newcastle, Nexus, North East Combined Authority and Tyne Coast College. George is also Independent Person for both Newcastle and North Tyneside Councils where he is consulted on all complaints against Councillors 

Has worked with the Shanghai Municipal Reform project, with the Crown Agents and Chief Internal Auditors from Nigeria, Tanzania, Malawi, and Georgia. Had four tours of Bosnia helping to develop proper internal control processes and establishing effective Internal Audit. Has also worked with the Federal Republic of Macedonia developing anti corruption hotlines and training programmes for the staff operating them. 

He is a past President of CIPFA North East Region and was awarded the Dr Hedley Marshall award for outstanding voluntary service to CIPFA’s regions over a 21 year period.

Deborah Collins, AAT Tyne and Wear Branch 

Deborah has been running an accountancy practice specialising in small business since 2008, following a career change from commercial accountancy. Before that she gained over 18 years of experience within sectors such as logistics, trade and retail, finance, project development and manufacturing. 

Deborah is ACCA qualified, an AAT Member in Practice, and the former chair of the AAT Tyne and Wear Branch

David Coppock, North East Region Director, Department for International Trade 

Department of Trade North East Region Director David Coppock previously led LG-Philips Displays in the UK and managed its Durham manufacturing plant. He has also worked for Rover and Rank Xerox. He is now focussed on helping the North East to continue to grow its export-led economy.

Alan Fletcher - Chairman, Square One Law LLP 

Alan is an experienced corporate lawyer and a founding partner of Square One Law. As well as being qualified in both Scottish and English law Alan also qualified as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen before working for Ernst & Young in Newcastle. During almost 20 years in professional practice Alan has been responsible for the provision of the whole range of corporate and commercial services, including M & A, refinancing, IPOs, joint ventures, not for profit, corporate governance and company secretarial matters.

Brian Foreman, Handelsbanken 

Brian has over 30 years of banking experience and has recently set up a new office for Handelsbanken in the North East, recruiting a team spanning both Corporate and Personal Banking. 

Prior to joining Handelsbanken, Brian was head of SME at Barclays, but took up the exciting new opportunity with Handelsbanken late in 2015 to provide a more bespoke offering to businesses and individuals in the region. He is a fully qualified Associate of the Chartered Institute of Bankers. 

In former roles, spanning 3 decades, Brian has headed a centre of excellence for Football Finance, a role that carried a national mandate, being recognised for his Professional Services to the sector at the 2010 Football Awards. Brian has also been heavily involved with both the HE & FE sectors during his time as Head of Education across the North East & Yorkshire region.

James Kyle, Investment Director, Rathbone Investment Management 

James helped establish the Rathbones office in the North East when it opened in 2013 having worked as a Director at a global wealth management firm prior to that.  He has 18 years investment industry experience and specialises in the management of private client, trust, offshore and pension fund portfolios. 

James graduated in Law from Newcastle University in 1998, holds the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI) Diploma and is a Chartered Fellow of the CISI. James currently sits on the Appeals Committee of St Oswald’s Hospital charity and is a trustee of the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

Tim Mallon, Development Director, Leathers the Accountants 

Tim has practised in tax for over thirty years and has held senior roles with a number of accountancy businesses across the North East.  A Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Advisor, he is now the Development Director at Leathers the Accountants. Tim sat on the committee of the CIOT North East England branch for over ten years and was Chairman of the branch from 2010 to 2012.

John McGee - Finance Director, Grainger Management Ltd 

John is a Chartered Certified Accountant with an MBA from Durham University Business School. 
He has a background in the offshore oil and gas industry having worked in Scotland and the Middle East for many years. 
Presently he holds a number of finance director roles with companies based in the North East of England and is is a former President of Northern Counties ACCA 

Robert Phillips, Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson 

Robert is a corporate finance partner with over 25 years’ experience of advising clients on private and public company mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, domestic and international joint ventures and corporate governance. 

In over 20 years working in the North East corporate marketplace as part of an award winning regional firm, Robert has advised on some of the most significant transactions in the region and worked with some of the region’s best known entrepreneurs. Robert’s specialisation is working with owner-managers and shareholders around strategic direction and maximising value when exiting their companies and also on the reverse side of those transactions, acting for corporates acquiring new businesses and companies as part of growth strategies. 

Robert has been named Insider’s North-East corporate lawyer of the year on three separate occasions – and worked on 4 of the awards’ ceremony “Deal of the Year” in the North East Region. 

Following outstanding client feedback Robert was named as a star lawyer in the ‘Acritas Stars’ global database 2017 and 2018 

Womble Bond Dickinson is a Transatlantic Law Firm created by the coming together of leading regional and national firms – to give businesses and individuals  nationally and locally a regional presence and footprint – with national and now transatlantic reach and expertise.

Gillian Sayburn, Chair, ACCA Northern Counties Network 

Gillian is the Chair of the ACCA Northern Counties Network supporting over 2000 ACCA members and students in The North East. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants which aims to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.  ACCA supports 178,000 members and 455,000 students in 181 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. 

After qualifying as an accountant with ACCA, Gillian decided to specialise in corporate rescue and recovery. She currently heads up Begbies Traynor Newcastle upon Tyne office where she works with businesses and individuals throughout the north east to try and find solutions when they are facing cash flow and financial problems. If a solution is not available she will work with the business or individual to achieve an orderly wind down of the estate. 

Professional Qualification – FCCA/JIEB

Fiona Standfield, Witton House Associates 

Educated at the Universities of Leeds, Caen and Oxford, Fiona began her career as a fast-track Civil Servant in Whitehall, subsequently teaching Modern Foreign Languages and working in the House of Commons, before joining Royal Mail plc.  Fiona enjoyed a thirteen-year career with Royal Mail plc, undertaking operational, training and management posts both at home and abroad, including Home Shopping Sales Director and culminating in Business Implementation and Delivery Director on a UK-wide IT Programme. 

Jeremy Smith, Partner, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP 

Jeremy heads the business tax team at national firm, Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP. He acts for a range of clients, both in the public and private sector, and advises on: 

- company acquisitions and disposals;
- property acquisitions and disposals;
- private equity transactions;
- corporate restructurings and reorganisations; and
- the design, implementation and operation of employee incentive arrangements (including cash bonus arrangements and tax-advantaged share schemes).