North East solicitor wins gold at world sailing championships

Member Article

A lawyer at a leading Northern law firm has won a global sailing championship for an unprecedented fifth time.

Graham Vials, who grew up in Darlington and lives in Wylam, is a partner in the education and employment teams at Ward Hadaway. He completed the race with sailing partner Chris Turner, who owns Ovington Boats and is also a Ward Hadaway client.

The Flying Fifteen World Championship, a biannual worldwide competition celebrated its 44th year with 2023’s race taking place in Australia. With each championship, approximately 80 boats representing a variety of nations take part. This year, 20 boats and sailing teams represented the UK.

Graham has sailed competitively from a very young age, and he was part of the British sailing squad as a young adult. During his mid-twenties Graham decided to stop sailing full time to focus on a training contract at Ward Hadaway. He has been at the firm since he started as a trainee in 2007 and, now a partner, Graham continues to compete in global sailing competitions with the support of his firm. Since he joined the firm, Graham has won The Flying Fifteen World Championship five times.

Graham Vials said: “Sailing has been a lifelong passion of mine and I’m incredibly grateful for the support Ward Hadaway provides to enable me to invest in the sport. When competing, it requires a lot of dedication to training and I also have to take annual leave at very specific times and dates. However, this is doable as I know when I’m away, the team have my client work covered and I can fully switch off and focus on the race ahead.

“Following my passion has been beneficial for my day job too as it’s a great networking opportunity and I’ve met so many different kinds of people through sailing of which a few are now Ward Hadaway clients. I am truly grateful for such a supportive working environment as the firm has enabled me to develop a rewarding legal career whilst still being able to enjoy my passion for sailing.”

Wellbeing is a key value at Ward Hadaway and the firm has worked hard in creating its people-focused strategy, developing a transparent and progressive structure where career development and personal wellbeing are both prioritised.

Martin Hulls, managing partner at Ward Hadaway, said: “At Ward Hadaway, we want to provide a nurturing and supportive environment where our people can grow and develop both personally and professionally. Individual development, health and a sustainable work/life balance are key pillars in our firm-wide people strategy that we’re continually developing to suit the needs of the business and our people. As a firm, we’re extremely proud of our people’s achievements away from their day job. Huge congratulations to Graham for winning the global championship for an impressive fifth time.”

Ward Hadaway employs over 450 people across offices in Leeds, Manchester and Newcastle. Last year, the firm was awarded gold standard by Investors in People (IiP) and shortlisted for an IiP UK Employer of the Year Gold award for the work it’s done in the area of employee health and wellbeing.

This was posted in Bdaily’s Members’ News section

Rachel McBryde

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