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Emphasis on change at Somerset Chamber AGM

Change was the principal theme of the recent Somerset Chamber AGM, with positive changes reported from the Chamber, while the guest speakers reflected on changes in business from the past to now and into the future.

Held at the Holiday Inn, Taunton on Wednesday 22 November, around 60 business people attended the AGM to hear an update on Chamber activities over the past 12 months. This included an improved financial position, new Somerset Chamber branding, a new business manifesto and new forms of member communication.

Chief Executive Dale Edwards reviewed the objectives presented a year ago and outlined the organisation’s key focuses beyond 2017, which included further growth of the Chamber’s financial reserves, continuing development of the Chamber team, and the establishment of additional commercial contracts that will benefit members and the wider Somerset economy.

Reports from the Chairman, Finance Director and Chief Executive were followed by presentations to member companies that had achieved ten years of continual Chamber membership.

A vote was held to appoint three new directors to the Chamber board, with Helen Lacey from Red Berry Recruitment being re-elected for another three year term. Debbie Morris from Concilium HR and Neil England from Hinkley Point Training Agency were also elected to the board for a period of three years.

Andrew Smith from Numatic International was presented with an award recognising his Outstanding Contribution to the Somerset Business Community. He spoke about his impressive 54 years at Numatic and the huge changes in the work environment during that time, from the slide rule and comptometer when he started at the business through to the Smartphones we all regularly use today. He highlighted the importance of development, education and training in this ever-changing environment, and encouraged people not to fear change but to embrace it as an opportunity.

Following dinner, keynote speaker Simon Barker from Leonardo Helicopters talked to guests about the many changes he has seen during his 34 years at the company, as well as providing insight into the developments and challenges that Leonardo and the aerospace industry are facing, now and in the future. He highlighted that the South West has long been at the forefront of technological advancement in the global aerospace sector, with innovation, productivity and skills at the heart of that success. However, he emphasised the need for investment in high end technology and design capability in order to reenergise the UK’s aerospace industry, enabling it to continue to compete on a global scale.

Summing up the AGM, Somerset Chamber Chairman Greg Saunders said, “The 2017 AGM was a resounding success. It was wonderful to be able to report to our members about the Chamber’s excellent growth in the last financial year and, more importantly, the progress already being made in this current financial year. Dale Edwards reiterated the Chamber’s strategy for the coming years and we had an excellent contribution from Andrew Smith of Numatic, while Simon Barker of Leonardo provided a fascinating insight into the aerospace industry in the region as well as the opportunities and challenges it faces.

“On a personal note, this marked the end of my first year as Chairman and I could not be happier as to the progression we have achieved, despite the obvious challenges that the country is currently facing. I am confident of continued growth and support for the business community of Somerset.”

The event was sponsored by Somerset Chamber Patron, Cornish Mutual. Head of Technical Development Paul Mahon commented, “Cornish Mutual was very pleased to sponsor the Somerset Chamber of Commerce AGM. It was a well-attended event that helped local businesses connect and showed how thriving Somerset Chamber is. Cornish Mutual has been insuring businesses and individuals in Somerset for decades. We think it is important to play a part in the local communities in which we operate. Being a Patron of Somerset Chamber and attending more of these events in the future will enable us to do just that.”

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