Published: December 18, 2019 | Updated: December 19, 2019

‘Progressive’ Dorset Chamber sees out landmark 70th anniversary year in style

Dorset Chamber’s 2020 Board (left to right) Simon Boyd, Paul Tansey, Caron Khan, Matthew Fretten, Ian Girling (Chief Executive), Nicola Newman, Liz Willingham (President), Tony Brown, Nicky Busst and James Robinson.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

Businesses hailed a landmark 70th anniversary year for Dorset Chamber when the organisation held its annual meeting.

Nearly 60 members – a record number in recent years – packed the event when officers were elected and the organisation’s ambitious business plan for 2020-2023 was launched.

President Liz Willingham took the chain of office for a second successive year. Stephen Mills was named as Senior Vice-President for 2020 and Caron Khan, Junior Vice-President.

Liz said: “We are a very progressive chamber.

“The stuffy perceptions of the past are on their way out. Organisations like ours cannot survive unless they evolve.

“We are not afraid to make bold decisions and work hard to remain focused on doing the right thing for our members.”

Members heard that successes during the Chamber’s 70th anniversary year included:

  • Launch of its Dorset Chamber Life Skills initiative
  • First President’s summer ball
  • Rebranding
  • 25th anniversary Dorset Business Awards
  • Re-accreditation with the British Chambers of Commerce.

The Chamber Board supported a proposal to allow the President to build on progress made in her first year. It is thought that this is the first time a President has taken a second term.

James Robinson, Honorary Treasurer, reported on a strong financial position for the Chamber which has been steadily improving over recent years with international trade services among the major growth areas.

Members also heard that the Chamber would continue to provide Brexit support for Dorset businesses in 2020.

Other initiatives for next year include a new free-to-members training programme covering such subjects as business resilience and digital marketing.

Chief Executive Ian Girling said: “It’s been a fantastic year.

“We are always very positive at the Chamber. We have completely transformed ourselves over the past six years and are in a very good place.”

Tributes were paid to long-serving Council Chairman Chris Slocock and Ambassador Ian Cambrook who were stepping down from the chamber council. Tony Brown was announced as the new Chairman of the Council.

Nicola Newman’s appointment as a Non-Executive Director on the Chamber Board was ratified. Simon Boyd and Nicky Busst will also continue as Non-Executive Directors.

The annual meeting at the Hermitage Hotel in Bournemouth was followed by the Chamber’s annual Christmas lunch.