Big Gathering of the Clans

September 18, 2008

I have been working on a pet project, brought into being due to a meeting I was invited to attend many months ago at Taunton.

I had been invited along by a chamber member who worked for a very good company that had branches in other towns, including Taunton and was hosting a similar event to one I had helped with in Weston previously.

That introduced me to the Taunton Chamber and a very enthusiastic executive team. I pledged there and then to work more closely with the other chambers and to help support those new and rebuilding chambers.

I have since arranged a meeting of various chambers in the surrounding areas , along with other related business groups, where we can all meet and exchange views, make contacts and network. It is an informal event, just a preliminary gathering so those with shared issues and interests can make future plans to work together for common goals.

My largest obstacle, I thought, was the sponsorship of the event. I knew it had to be a big meeting, to make it worthwhile but that would mean a large venue, which would mean costs. I also knew it would need to include refreshments which would also mean costs. More than this, I knew we didn’t have the money in the Weston chamber funds to cover these sort of expenses.

Having emailed and posted letters to various large companies within the membership asking for support, I receive no more than one reply. This told me two things:

1. We had lost contact with a lot of our top members and the people we had as contacts in those companies had mainly moved on a long time ago.Something we now have to address.

2. No one wants to use their wealth/influence to help the chamber other than to pay the membership fee and ignore things for another year.

I found a sponsor eventually who was very helpful, Rowan-Dartington Stockbrokers, who agreed with very little resistance. I also found later that a few of those I had contacted must have realised they were members and cancelled their membership as they had no relationship with the chamber other than paying a fee annually.

There is an issue to be addressed there but that’s for the future. Right now I am less than a fortnight awayfrom hosting the biggest event I have ever been involved with and my nerves are starting to show.

My main hopeful speakers have pulled out due to commitments or personal problems, leaving me with one main, one reserve and a late possible.

The good news is, I am now looking at possibly more attendees than I can cope with. I decided against an open invitation to all members of Weston Chamber and instead restricted it to those who are executive members or attend meetings on a regular basis. Today I had news from Clevedon that another four of their members would be attending, something I am glad of but it pushes the numbers up to the forty I had originally planned for. Some heads of other groups have yet to confirm how many of their members are coming.

Ah well, better a bigger success than an under filled conference hall.


We shall wait and see. More news as and when it happens.


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