Rising against the tide.

November 23, 2008

As we fall deeper into a global recession, with jobs being lost all around us and industries taking big hits, it is refreshing to see the activity of the Chamber growing in size and in importance. We recently held a breakfast meeting at Rookery Manor.

Now, I seem to have hit on a strange coincidence in business, that the best day for a business breakfast happens to be the best day for me to take as a day off each week. Perhaps the fact that we have dealt with anything from the weekend before and have a break before the weekend to come makes Thursday an ideal day for leaving the office but it also means, unfortunately, that I have to wake extra early on the one day I get the chance for a lie in!

Anyway, my moans aside, the second breakfast in as many weeks was to be jointly hosted by the chamber and Burroughs-Day Solicitors, a large company of legal and financial advisors based locally. The location was ideally situated just off the motorway between Weston-super-mare and Bridgwater, making it accessible from Bristol or Taunton too. The site is huge and one level so easily navigated by those with limited mobility. Rookery Manor is set within its own ground and has great parking facilites so all our guests were easily accomodated. They were met by the team from Burroughs-Day and handed their badges before being shown to the lounge bar for networking before the main event began.

I managed to make a few new contacts myself but my main job was to introduce the speakers and sponsors after the breakfast itself. The food was excellent, with toast and preserves being ready at the table when we took our designated seats and coffee flowing from the hot jugs delivered as we started eating. The plates of either continental or full english were proffered to the guests at their tables as the conversation flowed unniterrupted. I, being a host and President, sat alongside the other hosts and the guest speakers.

Before we knew it, the nerves kicked in as we were ushered to the top table ready to begin the main event.

As it happened, I just said a few garbled words and handed the slightly tempermental radio mike to Fiona Derwent, my co-host, to follow on and introduce the speakers. These were Geoff Harding and Kevin Butler, two gentlemen from the south west region of The Bank of England.

Kevin took control and gave us a detailed and highly accurate report on the recent past, present and hopeful future of the economy and its part in the global financial recovery. Needless to say, we were all transfixed throughout and the question and answer question ran dangerously close to overtime as the listening masses grilled the speakers. All questions were answered honestly and graciously.

Fiona nad I discussed who was going to do the wrap up, thank the guests etc., and at first I opted out but then had a change of heart and put myself forward, my thinking being that I had mumbled through the opening and needed to redeem myself.

I did better this time and hopefully didn’t embarress myself. The number of guests was very encouraging, being in the tens rather than teens as some previous meetings had been at othervenues. This I can happily say was in no small part due to the organisational skills of the team from Burroughs-Day. As far as I can tell, all those present enjoyed the breakfast meeting and took away something encouraging. I can’t tell you just what we were told due to reporting restrictions,(no, seriously, this is The bank of England after all), but I am a bit more confident that we will at some point come out of this dreadful downturn.

Contact Christopher Turner at Rookery Manor for a tour and more information on:


or T: 08454090909 F: 08454090908

Contact Burroughs-Day Solicitors via: http://www.bd4law.com/


Presidential pride

November 15, 2008

I experienced a moment I never imagined would never interest me let alone fill me with pride on Sunday. As a spotty youth I, like most young people of that age, saw any form of civic occasion as pomp and ceremony. All puffed up old men in stuffed shirts vying to appear more eminent or important than each other.

Status for it’s own sake with the bells and whistles attached.

But I’m not that carefree unburdened young man anymore and with the loss of rebellious attitude and baggy jeans come the responsibilities of office and adulthood accompanied by the suits and shoe shine. Age also brings a recognition of the efforts and commitments of your peers and elders. The other squeaky voiced playground warriors that went on to become real servicemen and women, the lazy cool ones who sat and the back of the class, chairs balanced daringly on two legs that went on to build ecosensitive industries.

So, when Remembrance Sunday came hovering on to the horizon, the question of whether or not I would be involved was unequivicable. As many people know, never shy from a chance to wear the chain of the chamber but this would not be for the usual reasons. This would not be an occasion to garner support for the issues or to draw new members. This would be the opportunity for me to represent those who live and work to support and provide services and goods and to remember and give thanks to those gave their today for our tomorrow and those who still do now.

The parade itself was somewhat light-hearted but very dignified and not a little moving I must admit. As we stood shoulder to shoulder, or in one case, elbow to head, heads bowed in reverence, I felt proud to be there for those served at home during those dark periods, those who made sure there would be something for those fortunate enough to come home to.

It was touching and yet sad to see the number of children attending. Sad because many where there not only for parents serving overseas, but also for those parents they had lost.

I do know one thing  for certain. Despite the cold and the rain and the mud underfoot, I was not only proud but fortunate to be able to be there that morning.

Recent activity

November 3, 2008

It’s sometimes a boring, thankless task being President but recently, things have become interesting and, to some extent ,worthwhile.

One of the things that I have been involved in setting up is the chamber website.

It costs very little to host and was constructed with a grant from the government and some chamber funding and with the expertise of one Mr Murray Ambler-Shattock. In fact, without him the site would never have been even started.

Don’t misunderstand that last comment. It is not just the knowledge of website building that makes Murray priceless but his unbowing faith and enthusiasm to the whole chamber concept. He is one of, luckily, several members who believe in the chamber unerringly. Our web master is one of a big team of dedicated members who give their own time and resources freely to help grow the chamber.

Now, one recent meeting I attended was for another group in which i am a member. I joined in order to foster relationships between them and us. Them being the local Industrial association. They had attended the Big Meeting I have previously blogged about and we were discussing ways of improving the Industrial group when one prominent member suggested a website. The Chamber website was quoted as a good example of an informative well planned site. That  was a small thing but a very proud moment for me and my team. Another member also mentioned producing a small fold out leaflet explaining the benefits of membership to the Industrial association to potential new members and he cited the chambers own leaflet, which he had seen and taken at that recent big meeting. more pride although the leaflet had been in existence since before i joined.

Another glow moment: I was at a meeting for another affiliated group. I attend a lot of these because I feel it is important to keep in touch with the people who have something to say and something to give in Weston. Anyway, at the meeting, it was being discussed, in some detail and at a basic idiot guide level ,about the new website this group had just launched. The site builder was going to great lengths to explain how the various members could link to the Group’s site. I listened to him say how links to other sites helped boost the ratings for the site. When one of the older established members of that group looked across to me I simply smiled and commented that the chamber already had a link set up which would direct people to this new site. It was like giving a nod of approval to a young apprentice. They had looked to me for confirmation and I felt great. It felt like the chamber was being regarded as a mentor to other smaller groups, someone to guide and help protect or teach them.

It was good. it makes me proud of the chamber just to know that people feel we are a reference point for how a group works is very very good news. It means that, despite our own fears about dropping membership or activity, we are making things work.

I get a buzz out of helping people. My next thing will be to contact the organiser of a local carnival which ends it’s tour of towns at Weston. It collects for local charities and always needs helpers to collect the pennies and pounds. Last year a colleague and I did the job for the first time and it was extremely hard on the legs but very worthwhile. The fact that a small share of the collected money is divided between the charities of the collectors was a bonus as it meant £60 went into the chamber charity fund but the main benefit was the feeling you get from seeing people who want to give money on a cold, usually rainy winter evening. I hope to do the same again this year.