Chairman’s AGM Review

At a well attended AGM on May 20th, Chairman Vee Bharakda looked back at the previous year’s activities, and forward to the coming 12 months. Taking consistency and engagement as her themes, here are highlights from her review:

“Let me start with how great it has been for me to be the chair of the CHILTERN CHAMBER! We are attracting more and more businesses from Amersham and really seeing a significant difference in our whole makeup. Right from our new website designed and managed by Robert Gibson, to Jean Pritchard our very long standing secretary, Andy Garnett the Vice Chair, Steve Hayden my Treasurer and all committee members – Sandra White, Anne Scott, Paul Batey, Jackie Campbell and Robert Havasi – and ambassadors Peter Henry, Matt Rogers and Mimi Harker.

As in many things, the key to successfully connecting with the people in your life, your family, your friends, your clients, co-workers, audience is CONSISTENCY and ENGAGEMENT.

Nothing happens if we just show up once. Our children trust us and we keep them safe because we are consistently there for them. Day in and day out. Our paychecks keep coming as long as we consistently show up for work day in and day out…. even doing the laundry is consistent. We build TRUST and we connect, when we consistently engage with the people in our lives.

So if that works then surely it must work with the Chamber. We are consistent! We engage with our members, we put news and information on our website, we hold business events and briefing, we help local businesses, we partner with local organisations, we take part in local events and support local charities.

The Chamber team is working really hard together. We have exciting events which we hold on the first Wednesday of each month, and our committee meetings which are held on the third Wednesday of the month. The Committee meetings and events are held at a variety of venues, suited to all our Chesham and Amersham members.

Our website has been rebuilt and is managed by Robert Gibson of Dovedale Design. He does an excellent job and keeps us all on our toes as well as educating us in the world of web design and marketing and mailshots etc. It is a great tool for our members to advertise their business. Please do have a look at our website – it is full of interesting things going on, B2B offers etc.

We give out special recognition awards to organisations that we believe go that extra mile. This year the awards have been given to Chiltern Hills Academy for raising a significant sum of money for their sixth form block, Stirling Maguire, for leading a fundraising campaign to re-hang the Chesham Town Bell in time for the 100th anniversary of the start of the 1st World War, Michael Clark, Clarks of Amersham, for services to the business community and business growth, and to Vince Crompton for his community work. Chesham Town Council has also made Vince the first Freeman of Chesham.

Andy is part of the Chiltern & South Bucks Economy group (CSBESG), which includes representatives from the three local councils, aiming to get people back into work. There is continued consultation and involvement with local government and we have worked in partnership with BBF. In addition to this, I would really encourage our members to engage with us on LinkedIn and Twitter (@ChilternChamber). In the last 6 months our Twitter followers have grown from around 500 to over 700. Several of us are tweeting and retweeting and Paul Batey has actually created a profile for Chiltern Chamber Ambassadors which is working really well. I just need to find a way of converting these followers to members…

Our support for charitable and community causes included ‘CIC’ Christmas in Chesham, the Amersham Showcase and The Amersham Pudding Race in December, benefitting African Street Children and Sign Health a charity for deaf children. This year in early April was the Mayor’s zip wire event in Chesham, for the St Francis Hospice in Berkhamsted.

We started January 2015 with a bang. Sandra White our events manager had all of the events for the next 12 months with some interesting topics and themes. The year started with Paul Ryan from Improve on You, Nick Sophos on Cybercrime, arranged by Chamber member Epoq IT, Robert Gibson on Website design, Paul Batey on Customer Service and our excellent food and drink event which connected various local businesses together and brought us new members. There was a real buzz at the food and drink event which continued for a few weeks after. Well done to Sandra for all her hard work in making it happen!

Some of our events are aimed at educating and informing and some purely networking. It works and brings new ideas to the table. We have our fantastic annual Golf day coming up on 5th June at Chartridge Park golf club when we are expecting about 60 people playing golf and a few more for the evening dinner. Our Strawberry & Pimms garden party on 1st July 2015 at the Bury is going to be a very successful event and we are aiming to attract over 200 businesses.

We hope to support all our member organisations, help local businesses thrive and champion both local and regional economic development. As a business community we are focussed on growth and pursuing new opportunities. We will continue to lobby local organisations on issues relevant to both Chesham and Amersham and look forward to helping our members establish new relationships with potential customers. We will concentrate for the future on ENGAGING as a voice of business, committed to the enhancement of the economic prosperity and quality of life in the Chiltern region.

Our strength is OUR MEMBERS and our network! In particular, we look to the members to help us identify the needs of the community and businesses, and for them to engage with any campaigns we develop. The Chamber responded to the call for ideas in the CDC Local Area Plan. As mentioned, we are active in various areas of local government. But if we are to be the voice of local business, we shall always need the help of local business to put forward their concerns and ideas, and then we can amplify that voice and take it to the right places. We have a web site which could now be used much better for engagement and campaigns; we have an active Twitter and LinkedIn presence. Think of us like a megaphone! So let’s try to make the coming year one of consistency AND engagement.

I would like to thank you all again… THANK YOU to my Vice Chair, committee members, ambassadors and everyone who has helped us with our mission this year. I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s enthusiasm and willingness to help make the Chiltern Chamber a very successful organisation.”