A sporting law firm 

September 1, 2018

Ward Hadaway may be a multi award-winning law firm, but it is also focused on encouraging an active lifestyle among its 450-strong workforce and local community. Here, members of the Newcastle office reflect on how the firm encourages sport from elite to grassroots level – and reveal why the firm has chosen to mark its 30th anniversary with an epic relay race that will – quite literally – link the Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle offices

Encouraging physical activity is an important motivator for Ward Hadaway – one of the UK’s Top 100 law firms with offices in Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester.

Not only does the firm sponsor Newcastle Falcons – the only professional rugby union team in the North East – it is also committed to promoting an active lifestyle within the local community via an extensive and varied CSR programme.

In addition, Ward Hadaway – which holds the Investors in People Silver accreditation – encourages sport among its 450-strong workforce through in-house football, netball and touch-rugby teams and its own running club, the Hadaway Harriers.

This year, the law firm celebrates its 30th anniversary and to mark the milestone, is embarking on a charity relay race that will see 53 members of the Ward Hadaway team run between the firm’s three Northern offices.

Here, members of Ward Hadaway’s Newcastle office explain more…

Sponsoring the professionals

Ward Hadaway is a long-running sponsor of Newcastle Falcons, the professional rugby union club based at Kingston Park stadium on the outskirts of the city. The law firm initially became involved with the club during its golden era – when local heroes Jonny Wilkinson, Toby Flood and Mathew Tait were in their pomp for Newcastle and England.

After a short break, Ward Hadaway returned as a sponsor and has seen a period of renewed success for the club, which achieved a top four finish in the top flight last season under the coaching expertise of Dean Richards and Dave Walder, whose wife is a Ward Hadaway alumni.

For senior partner Jamie Martin – who has been at Ward Hadaway for over 22 years and recently stepped down as its managing partner – supporting Newcastle Falcons is a necessary and mutually beneficial arrangement.

“It’s important to have a successful rugby club in the North East of England as it adds generally to the welfare of the region, especially those who enjoy watching and participating in the sport,” he says.

“There are very good commercial reasons for the firm to be involved with the Falcons too, in terms of client hospitality and for our brand awareness programme.”

Tackling inactivity in the community

Ward Hadaway’s varied CSR programme has a strong emphasis on encouraging sport in the community – particularly among young people.

As well as sponsoring a number of local grassroots sporting teams, Jamie reveals that the firm has a dedicated fund managed by the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland dedicated in part to promoting physical activity among local young people.

Jamie reflects: “We’re keen to support the community where we operate and are able – through making small but targeted donations through our CSR programme – to help the general need for improved health and activity levels.”

The firm also has close relationships with the Foundations of the region’s top professional sports clubs, and is a corporate partner of Sunderland AFC’s Foundation of Light.

Paul Scope  – a partner in the employment team who regularly provides legal advice to both football clubs and Foundations – reveals that Ward Hadaway has been involved in a number of fundraising events.

This began when the firm sponsored a Question of Sport-style evening in collaboration with the Foundations of Newcastle United, Newcastle Falcons and Durham County Cricket Club.

Jamie – a lifelong supporter of Sunderland AFC and a former chairman of the development committee at the Foundation of Light – says: “We work with these Foundations for a number of reasons. Firstly, because it’s a good thing to do, secondly because it connects us with the clubs that many of the Newcastle firm’s staff support, and thirdly because these organisations do incredibly important work and need all the support and finances they can get.”

Paul adds: “It’s also important to remember these Foundations aren’t supporting professional sports people. They’re all about encouraging sport in the community – often among those who are less advantaged or might have particular barriers to overcome.”

Ward Hadaway lawyer Matt Cormack – a partner in the commercial team and a keen runner – recently joined the board of charity Tyne & Wear Sport to coincide with the launch of a new strategy that aims to tackle inactivity.

Matt reveals that the Tackling Inactivity Strategy is a direct response to research that shows that 27.5 per cent of the adult population in Tyne & Wear take part in less than 30 minutes of exercise per week.

He says: “It has never been more important to support people in leading healthier, active lifestyles and becoming a trustee gives me the opportunity to make a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of those in our region.”

Much of Ward Hadaway’s sporting CSR activity is driven by its staff and, often, from very personal circumstances.

One example is employee Jodie Seddon whose partner, Chris Tuson, injured his neck in a rugby tackle while playing for Hull FC and was left temporarily paralysed. Doctors later diagnosed a second bulging disc and he was told he would never play professional rugby again.

Despite the accident happening before Jodi joined Ward Hadaway, she was keen to introduce the firm to the charity that helped Chris, RL Cares.

The law firm has since become a member of the RL Cares Business Club and provides legal advice to injured professional rugby players.

In addition, Jodi and her colleague Martin Karran helped organise and run the inaugural RL Cares charity golf day in Huddersfield that raised more than £4000 for the charity.

Encouraging sport within Ward Hadaway

A career in law often involves managing heavy workloads, but the management team at Ward Hadaway is keen that its employees are able to maintain an active lifestyle alongside their work commitments.

“I think it’s important for any employer to make it as easy as possible for their workforce to have a healthy lifestyle – especially if that work demands long hours such as in law,” says Jamie.

“We also have a young and active workforce on the whole at Ward Hadaway, and we want to encourage that and the things that they enjoy doing. Healthy bodies lead to healthy minds, too, and we want to support that.”

As well as providing equipment and financial assistance for Ward Hadaway’s touch-rugby, netball and football teams, the firm established its own running club three years ago.

The Hadaway Harriers was the brainchild of corporate partner Katherine Hay-Heddle, an ultra-runner who has completed astonishing challenges all over the world, including a 150-mile race across the Sahara Desert and a 350-mile race across the Arctic.

After a conversation at work where several colleagues revealed to Katherine they had a desire to run but didn’t know how to start, she approached Jamie to ask if the firm would fund a Leadership in Running fitness course.

Katherine completed the course and began an informal running club for her Ward Hadaway colleagues on Monday evenings.

“We started off doing the couch to 5km programme which is great because the whole point is it gets your body used to the impact of running,” she says.

“Everyone really enjoyed it and as a graduation, we took part in the 5km Park Run on Newcastle’s Town Moor.”

The success of the couch to 5km programme encouraged Katherine to build the club further and after two colleagues – Matt Cormack and Clare French – completed the Leadership in Running course, Hadaway Harriers was able to cater for beginners, intermediates and advanced-level runners.

Currently, around 20 to 30 Ward Hadaway staff and clients take part in the running club each week.

Katherine reflects: “What’s great about the club is that it’s a cross section from departments and from all levels – from junior to very senior.

“There’s actually a healthy level of business understanding that comes out of the training runs because we’re all running along the Quayside talking to each other and getting to know each other.

“This is in addition to the obvious health benefits – both physical and mental – to having the running club.”

This year, Ward Hadaway celebrates its 30th anniversary and, given the firm’s sporting credentials, it was keen to mark the occasion with a physical challenge for its staff.

Katherine and Matt came up with Three Points North, a running relay that will see around 50 Ward Hadaway employees cover the distance between the firm’s Manchester, Leeds and Newcastle offices.

Managing partner Martin Hulls (himself a keen cyclist) will get the runners underway from the firm’s office in the Observatory in Manchester at 6am on September 13. They will run to Wellington Place in Leeds, arriving around 2pm in the afternoon, before running overnight to Ward Hadaway’s headquarters in Newcastle, arriving on the Quayside at 3pm on September 14.

Katherine explains: “The distance is just under 135 miles and we’ve split it up into sections of around three miles to make it as accessible as possible for people to take part.

“The interest has been fantastic and Matt and I have been astonished how many people have said they want to be involved.”

The unique running challenge will raise money for COCO, the charity co-founded by Steve Cram that provides sustainable sources of quality education to children living in poor and marginalised communities, and the Greggs Foundation to support its Greggs Breakfast Club Programme, helping primary school children get a nutritious start to their school day.

Those participating in the Three Points North challenge will also have a European and Commonwealth bronze medalist join them on the final leg of their journey.

North East middle-distance runner Laura Weightman – who came third in the 1500m final at this year’s European Championships and is coached by Steve Cram – will join the team as it reaches Newcastle’s office on the Quayside, to what will undoubtedly be rapturous cheers and applause from their awaiting colleagues.

Matt adds: “It’s great to have Laura involved in the final leg and will give the runners a real lift. We might have to ask her to slow down, though!”

Jamie Martin, who will be part of the welcome team, wishes the Three Points North participants the very best of luck in their challenge.

He concludes: “Sport is an incredibly important part of most people’s lives and at Ward Hadaway, we want to be part of everything that goes on in human activity and endeavour and sport is such a big part of that.”

Ward Hadaway

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