General

Tony takes the helm as Dorset Chamber prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary

New Dorset Chamber President Tony Brown, fourth from right, and Dorset Chamber Chief Executive Ian Girling, fifth left, with some members of the Dorset Chamber Board at the organisation's 2023 annual meeting.

By Andrew Diprose [email protected]

Published: December 11, 2023 | Updated: 11th December 2023

A new President has taken the helm as Dorset Chamber looks ahead to its 75th anniversary year.

Dorset Chamber logo

Tony Brown, Managing Director of Ferndown-based Y-not Finance, received the chain of office at the chamber’s annual meeting.

He succeeded outgoing president Caron Khan and will be supported in his role by new Vice-President Gareth Sherwood, Chief Executive of Bournemouth YMCA.

Around 100 members attended the annual meeting and heard of a successful year despite the challenging business environment.

Chief Executive Ian Girling said the chamber’s achievements over the past 12 months included the first Business Festival of its kind.

Dorset Chamber was also named as one of the top five chambers of commerce in the UK during 2023.

It celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2024.

Ian, who has just marked his first decade as the chamber’s Chief Executive, said: “It has been another successful year.

“Our highlight of 2023 was the Dorset Business Festival, a four-day celebration that included a networking launch, a major conference and expo and the return of the Dorset Business Awards.

“With a footfall of over 800 businesses, this was the largest and most ambitious project ever undertaken by Dorset Chamber.

“A huge thank you goes to our amazing team and to all of our festival partners.

“You can expect to see the festival return in October 2024 over a two-week period.

“It’s been an extremely challenging for businesses over the last four years with unforeseen global challenges.

“We will continue to do our absolute best for our business community.”

Dorset Chamber is to refresh its face-to face events in 2024 and also introduce new services to bring in more commercial income streams.

The chamber, which has more than 650 members, runs as a business on a not-for-profit basis and is not heavily subsidised through publicly funded support.

It has an 85 per cent membership retention rate.

New Dorset Chamber president Tony Brown

New Dorset Chamber president Tony Brown

New President, Tony Brown, said: “Dorset Chamber has long been a beacon of collaboration, innovation and growth.

“As we navigate the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, I am eager to build upon the strong foundation laid by my predecessors and work collectively with each and every one of you, to help move our chamber to even greater heights.”

The annual meeting also included board and ambassadorial appointments:

  • Matthew Fretten, of Frettens LLP, as Honorary Solicitor.
  • Lesley Fox, of Mazars, as Honorary Treasurer.
  • Helen Stacey, Managing Director of Aspire Jobs, as Chair of the Dorset Chamber Ambassadors. She also joins the Board of Directors.

Following the annual meeting at the Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel, the chamber held its Christmas lunch for nearly 200 people – one of the highest attendances for many years – when £1,744 was raised from a raffle for Diverse Abilities.

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