Sixty of Somerset’s most influential business people attended the Somerset Chamber of Commerce’s annual Business Leaders Dinner on Wednesday 10th June.
Held at The Castle Hotel in Taunton, this year’s prestigious event marked the 20th anniversary of the Somerset Chamber of Commerce, which has gone from strength to strength in that time and is now the fastest growing affiliated Chamber in the British Chambers network.
Business leaders from across the county attended the sell-out event where they were treated to a three course meal and given an update on the Chamber’s recent activities and progress, as well as its priorities and ambitions for the future. The Somerset Chamber has grown to almost 600 members, expected to be closer to 700 by the end of October, with plans to continue growing to at least 1,000 members by the end of 2018.
Neil Murphy, CEO of the Somerset Chamber, thanked the Patrons and members for their support, and stressed that at its heart the Chamber is a membership organisation, emphasising the importance of listening to the membership and gauging opinion on the activities and events they want the Chamber to provide.
He pointed out that the Chamber is not just a membership organisation, however, and highlighted its successful supply chain activity for the Hinkley Point C project. With supply chain management now being an acknowledged strength of the Somerset Chamber, this is something it can offer not just for Hinkley Point C but also as support for a range of business initiatives, with other potential supply chain projects already on the horizon.
He also talked about the Chamber’s commitment to helping bridge the gap between education and employment, engaging schools, colleges and businesses to improve understanding of what employers need from education-leaving students – something that is particularly important given Somerset’s shrinking population of 16-64 year olds and the economic growth that is predicted for the county over the coming years.
Guest speaker Sue Mountstevens spoke to the business leaders after dinner about her role as Avon and Somerset’s Police and Crime Commissioner, as well as her background in business. She stressed the need for good communication with the business community to help in the fight against business crime, and emphasised the importance of a strong and prosperous business community in providing a good foundation for reducing crime.
Summing up, Graham Knight, Chair of the Somerset Chamber, said, “The Business Leaders Dinner is one of three ‘jewels in the crown’ for the Somerset Chamber, with the other two being the Somerset in Business Conference and the Somerset Business Awards. Last week’s Somerset in Business Conference was a huge success and with tonight’s full house and impressive guest list, it’s extremely encouraging to see that the Somerset Chamber is not just growing but is going from strength to strength.”
The 2015 Business Leaders Dinner was sponsored by Chamber members Amberley Management Recruitment, Mazars and The Castle Hotel.
The Somerset Chamber of Commerce is one of only five accredited Chambers in the South West and 52 in the whole of the UK. It works closely with the British Chambers of Commerce to make sure Somerset businesses stay well connected at both a local and national level, and that the voices of the Somerset business community are heard at all levels of government.
Pictured, L-R: Sarah Berry (The Castle Hotel); Derek Smart (Amberley Management Recruitment); Jon Marchant (Mazars), Sue Mountstevens (Avon & Somerset Police); Neil Murphy (Somerset Chamber of Commerce); Graham Knight (Somerset Chamber of Commerce)