Latest News

24 Apr

24 April 2015

Maria Thomas wins FirstPro 2015

Maria Thomas, relationship manager at Barclay Bank plc in Coventry, has been named FirstPro 2015.Maria Thomas2

She was named winner of Coventry & Warwickshire First’s hunt for the leading professional in the region at a gala dinner held last night at the Ricoh Arena.

“Maria is clearly exceptional,” said Martin Gibbs, Chair of Coventry & Warwickshire First and Senior Partner at Dafferns Chartered Accountants. “Being good at your job is a given so we look for more than just that in FirstPro. The winners have contributed to the community outside the workplace, supported others and shown active commitment to the region. They also need to posses the intangible x-factor.

“Maria shone out. She is ‘an irreplaceable member of the team’ who exhibits outstanding behaviours. An active board member of the Coventry Business Improvement District she is driving up footfall in the city centre and consistently supports a wide range of community projects and activities. These include everything from cake and bake sales and raising thousands at the Belgrade Theatre Charity evening to running business planning events for local children.

“We were particularly impressed by her willingness to step forward and assume responsibility beyond her remit. She supported a personal customer who had attempted suicide. She brought together Age UK and Barclays retail collections team to change the personal loan repayments to an amount the individual could pay.”


The category winners are:

Legal Professional: Rachel Gwynne, Wright Hassall

Finance Professional: Maria Thomas, Barclays Bank plc

Property Professional: James Walton, Sheldon Bosley

Business Services Professional: Vikki Whittemore, Wright Hassall

Young Professional: Carl Malcolm, Dafferns Chartered Accountants


Legal Professional: Rachel Gwynne, Wright Hassall.

Wright Hassall StaffHead of Wright Hassall’s charities sector Rachel is a senior associate who has already achieved recognition for her work and contribution.  Whilst at Anthony Collins Solicitors, a firm she joined as a paralegal, she was named Young Business Leader 2009/2010 and Birmingham Law Society’s Trainee Solicitor of the Year in 2006.  She is currently the immediate past President of the Warwickshire Law Society.  Rachel was the youngest President the Society has seen in its 100 years.  She is also Trustee of a number of charities including Cornerstone, Cornerstone Quest, Cornerstone City Centre and The Midland Legal Support Trust.



Finance Professional: Maria Thomas, Barclays Bank plc


Property Professional: James Walton, Sheldon Bosley.

James Walton Sheldon BosleyBased predominantly in the Stratford-upon-Avon office of Sheldon Bosley, James is a registered RICS valuer and works mainly in the areas of Land Agency and Agriculture, Estate Management, Planning and Valuation. His personal interest in conservation is exemplified by the Stewardship Scheme in place on his family farm. Outside work he is a Director of the Warwickshire Rural Hub based at the NAC Stoneleigh and a member of the Coventry & Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership SME Business Group. He was appointed to the Midlands Regional Advisory Board of the NFU Mutual Insurance Society in 2013.



Business Services Professional: Vikki Whittemore, Wright Hassall.

Wright Hassall staffBusiness Development Director at Wright Hassall, Vikki was shortlisted in recognition of the ideas and structure she has introduced that have significantly improved the performance of the firm’s internal and external marketing, including the delivering of an improved website, refreshed collateral including three new high quality client publications (Law & Business; Law & Land; Law & Life) and the implementation of a new CRM system and account management protocols.  Outside work, Vikki is providing pro bono marketing support to Age UK Warwickshire and has trained as a Dementia Friend.  She is also one of just 12 marketers appointed to the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Professional and Membership Advisory Group, which upholds the standards of CIM members.



Young Professional: Carl Malcolm, Dafferns Chartered Accountants

Carl-Malcolm-3-14-e1421843726353Carl is an important contributor to the Dafferns team, responsible for a number of his own clients. Outside work he has been an active participant in the Young Professionals network. He is currently chair of the Young Professionals and in this role has been responsible for the reinvigoration of the mentoring programme. He is also incredibly active in the local community, quietly raising funds for and contributing to a variety of local charities.