Next Generation Partners

Rising Stars

Charities and not-for-profit in North

Muckle LLP

Muckle LLP’s charities practice demonstrates a strong profile advising on charity law and governance in the sports and education sectors. Samantha Pritchard leads the charities team since joining in December 2022 from Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP. She has particular expertise advising charities on mergers, collaboration, governance issues, operational and Charity Commission compliance matters. Joanne Davison draws on her wealth of experience in governance and project work, regularly advising on restructuring and joint ventures as well as establishing social enterprises. Chris Hook, promoted to partner in April 2023, is the key contact for sports clubs on not-for-profit structures, mergers, governance, trustee duties and commercial matters. While John Devine  left the firm in October 2022 to go in-house, he remains a consultant solicitor.

Practice head(s):

Samantha Pritchard

Other key lawyers:

Chris Hook; Joanne Davison


‘The team are friendly, approachable and explain legal issues and their advice in clear and accessible terms.’

‘People make the difference! Despite everyone being busy time is taken to get to know you as a client, understand the issue you need help with and then to discuss the different approaches that can be taken. A good blend of commercial, legal and common sense.’

‘Joanne Davison always has time, cares about people, charities and communities and you never feel you are wasting her time.’

‘Very client-focused and detailed with regard to taking on board client concerns and ensuring clarity of assessment and issues. In depth knowledge of the subject based on experience and knowledge. Significant client and issue support within a diverse professional team. Reasonable cost giving a very good value for money.’

‘Worked closely with Samantha Pritchard who’s attention to detail and assessment skills are excellent. Sam has a personal approach based on an empathetic character enabling her to deal with tricky issues and subjects sympathetically but in detail.’

‘Highly personable team who always leave you with a sense that they really care about their clients and will go above and beyond to deliver a quality service which meets a clients needs and exceeds expectations. Always found Joanne Davison and Richard Nixon to be incredibly approachable, thorough and efficient. Had the pleasure of meeting Ryan Douglas a promising Paralegal on the team who was supporting the work of David Towns from the Estates Team and it was great to see Junior staff encouraged and supported to deliver quality work as part of the team.’

‘The team are excellent, I would highly recommend as their knowledge of the charity sector and regulatory requirements is second to none. There is a genuine culture of collaboration and a strength in depth, drawing upon the relevant expertise across the firm in order to make sure we get the best advice possible. As well as providing excellent technical advice, they’ve invested time in and developed a real understanding of our organisation.’

‘Chris Hook has a clear and refreshing approach, and his advice is always prompt and focused. He has a strong an understanding of charity governance and the key issues for charities.’

Key clients

The Football Foundation

parkrun Global

Great North Air Ambulance Service

The Alnwick Garden Trust

The Greggs Foundation

The Premier League Charitable Fund

County Durham Community Foundation

Chelsea FC Foundation

Tyneside Cinema

St Cuthbert’s Care

Children’s Heart Unit Fund (CHUF)

Newcastle University Students’ Union

Mental Health Concern (Concern Group)

Rape Crisis England and Wales

CSIS Charity Fund

Hospital of King James Gateshead

The Little Theatre Gateshead

Dame Allan’s Schools

Newcastle Dog & Cat Shelter

Work highlights

  • Advising the Football Foundation on the national roll out of the £200m Hubs Programme facilities launched by The Football Association (FA).
  • Acting for parkrun Global Limited, advising on all legal matters including corporate governance, data protection issues, various commercial agreements with sponsors, contractual issues with former sponsors and overseas franchise holders.

Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP

The Newcastle team at Womble Bond Dickinson (UK) LLP ‘well thought through‘ and ‘timely’ strategic, regulatory, operational and trust advice to charities and not for profits, including the National Trust and BBC Children in Need as well as government departments and local authorities. The team led by Emma Moody, supported by associate Sally Cooper features sub-specialisms in education, health & care and religion and is established in safeguarding governance and regulatory investigations. Recently, the team acted for the Department for Education in establishing a new not for profit to operate an educational academy.

Practice head(s):

Emma Moody

Other key lawyers:

Sally Cooper


‘The thing that stood out to me about WBD’s team was their ownership, focus on delivery, client experience, and mission alignment. As a Charity it is much easier to work with any service provider when they care about what you do, the team did a great job of focusing on our needs as an organisation and protecting our interests, while considering the complex relationships we have with delivery partners and the young people we support.’

‘I can wholeheartedly say that without Emma and Sally’s professionalism, reassurance, competence, interpersonal skills, reliability and tenacity, the charity that I founded may not exist and the young people we support would not be supported.’

‘The team navigated us through the complicated and ‘new’ process of Cathedrals becoming registered charities with outstanding knowledge and determination.’

Key clients

BBC Children in Need

Which? / Consumers’ Association

National Trust

Royal Academy of Engineering

The Dogs Trust

Mental Health Matters

Mental Health Concern

National Benevolent Charity

Absolute Return for Kids (ARK)

NESTA Challenges

National Energy Action

Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul


Department for Education

Academy of Medical Sciences

Humankind Charity


HCT Group

Beamish Museum

St John of God Hospitaller Services

Urban Green Newcastle

Mohiuddin Trust

Halo Leisure Services Limited

North Northumberland Hospice Care

Newcastle Cathedral

St Mary Magdalene and Holy Jesus Trust

Carlisle Cathedral

Derby Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral

Gloucester Cathedral

Lichfield Cathedral

Bristol Cathedral

Percy Hedley Foundation

Newcastle Diocesan Board of Education

Wrigleys Solicitors LLP

Charity expert Fiona Wharton heads up the team at Wrigleys Solicitors LLP which offers a ‘top class service’ to regional, national and international clients, recently adding the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments to its portfolio. Wharton is highly specialised in governance, mergers and collaborative working, almshouses as well as advising public sector bodies in their role as corporate trustees. Drawing on national expertise, the team offers advice to faith charities and specialises in community-led housing for which Laura Moss is the key contact. Joanna Blackman advises charities, their trading subsidiaries, and social enterprises on constitutional amendments, structural transactions and asset transfers.

Practice head(s):

Fiona Wharton

Other key lawyers:

Laura Moss; Joanna Blackman


‘They have an excellent knowledge base of that Charity sector which is invaluable. This is a key strength in what can be a complicated sector, particularly in dealings with Regulators and Commissioning teams. They are widely renowned in this sector and have a great reputation.’

‘Fiona Wharton is exceptional in her experience of all charity legal matters. She is an excellent advisor and her knowledge is invaluable in highlighting key areas particularly in the merger process we are undertaking. Without her guidance and expertise we would have encountered serious pitfalls’

‘They are a charity specialist and have the expertise to fully and properly advise charity clients. Fiona Wharton has excellent charity expertise.’

‘Wrigleys have an in-depth understanding of charity / not for profit law. They have worked with us on a complex issue which needed a great deal of detective work. Without their specific expertise in the charity sector the future of our organisation would have been at risk. I was particularly pleased that I was invited to a face to face meeting when that became possible. Our previous solicitors had given us poor advice and left us exposed to a number of risks. There is really no comparison between them and Wrigleys.’

‘We worked with Joanna Blackman, she was patient in explaining the issues of our rather complex situation, and made sure we understood each step of the way. I had the impression that she loved her job and relished the process of investigation involved in understanding and untangling historic legal set-ups. We felt we received top class service, with a thorough exploration of the past and present situation, a solution to some difficult problems, and an explanation of the options we have to take things forward to keep the organisation running securely and smoothly in future. Our previous solicitors had given us poor advice and left us exposed to a number of risks. There is really no comparison between them and Wrigleys.’

‘Fiona Wharton has been excellent in understanding and responding to issues of governance, appreciating the historic and current challenges we are facing and challenging (appropriately) some of our thinking. We have benefitted from her commonsense approach and clarity and her understanding of our time and other constraints.’

‘I have worked with Fiona Wharton on a recent piece of work around classification of a legacy received by the College. Her work has been excellent. A timely response to the original query was followed by an in-depth explanation of her opinion which was highly valued by our governors.’

‘Strong with regards to foundation/charity law, including foundation setup and legal advice related to this.’

Key clients

Chartered Institute for Securities and Investments

Housing Justice

Crossroads Care Cheshire, Manchester & Merseyside Limited

Herstmonceux Community Land Trust

Hospital of the Holy and Undivided Trinity

City Mental Health Alliance CIC

Staveley Community Trust