The Chamber held its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 14th July 2021. Almost 30 local business people attended the event which provided a welcome opportunity to share a drink and catch up after so many months of virtual meetings. Haslemere Educational Museum played host with members fed and watered by the combined efforts of Oliver’s and RedH.

Purpose Delivered – our AGM guest speaker

Alan Barlow, former CEO and local author, provided the evening’s keynote speech. Alan gave Chamber members an overview of the core principles set out in his new book ‘Purpose Delivered’, which highlights the growing disconnect between business and society and describes how business can deliver social value as well as profits. Attendees were delighted to hear first-hand from Alan and agreed that his presentation offered an important and impressive framework to create ‘purpose-defined’ businesses that yield bigger benefits for both society and businesses with a focus on empowering staff and employees.

‘Purpose Delivered’ has been nominated for the Financial Times Business Book Award 2021 and is available to buy from The Haslemere Bookshop.

President and Committee appointments

There was overwhelming support for Craig McGowan to continue in the role of President for another year and the Committee and wider Chamber recorded their grateful thanks to Craig for his unstinting efforts in support of local business, and the passion, energy and drive that he brings to the role of President.

A new Committee was elected, with members representing a wide spectrum of professions, businesses and enterprises.

  • Ben Govier – Dylan’s Ice Cream
  • Sahran Abeysundara – The Silk Road
  • Melissa King – Marley Flowers
  • Sue Carne – Not Just Travel
  • Chris Sharp – RedH
  • Chris Boobyer – Chair, Haslemere Educational Museum
  • Kim Scillitoe – Curated Living
  • Olivia Lacey – OKL Associates
  • Narn McMoo – Neal’s Yard and Twitter/Twitter By hand
  • Esther Bowler – Millie Jones Hair
  • Peter Jones – The Sports Locker

Chamber President, Craig McGowan said: “I’d like to extend a big welcome to the new committee. With a team like this, we will not fail to promote Haslemere and support the business community to reach new heights.”

“I’d also like to thank the Committee members who stood down – our heartfelt thanks go to Ian Rowley, Caroline Warrington, Brenda Roper and Tom Pearse for their combined wisdom, expertise and hard work over the years and the time they freely gave to supporting the business community.”

Time to reflect, time to look ahead

Chamber activity over the last two years, has, unsurprisingly, focussed on the immediate and emergency response to COVID-19. Considering longer term needs and priorities has also been at the heart of the Chamber’s efforts. Over the past 17 months, the Chamber has:

  • set up positive local broadcast media coverage for the town on the BBC’s flagship South Today programme;
  • helped pay for, and distribute, colourful bunting and paper cups to support the #HeartOfHaslemere campaign;
  • played a key role in Haslemere’s wider COVID emergency response;
  • given pro bono advice on IT, HR, finance and insurance via Committee experts;
  • reduced the rent at the Haslemere Business Centre, supporting local businesses when they most need it;
  • reflected member views on car parking, safety and security to Waverley Borough Council and Surrey Police;
  • supported businesses seeking COVID-19 business grants;
  • written to local landlords appealing for help in respect of rent, (eliciting sympathetic responses from several landlords); and,
  • continued to push for additional parking facilities within the town.

During discussion, members agreed that uniting the town across the two main commercial neighbourhoods of the High Street and Wey Hill was vital to the success of the town and recent footfall data supplied by Waverley Borough Council has demonstrated that our shopping and socialising areas are bouncing back well.

A successful high street is an accurate indicator of the wider health of the local corporate community, a fact reflected in the broad range of professional service providers, consultancies and entrepreneurs choosing to make Haslemere their home.

Looking to the future, Craig outlined the Chamber’s plans to:

  • promote the town across its two distinct retail areas of the High Street and Wey Hill
  • develop a new monthly art, craft and brocante market at St Christopher’s Green
  • Continue to work to connect local businesses to local schools, fostering positive relationships and opportunities
  • Re-start regular networking events for local businesses including an annual awards night
  • Create a cross-channel business network with our twin town of Bernay in France
  • Continue to develop the Haslemere Business Centre as a spring board for fledgling businesses and initiatives
  • Help find a solution to the lack of a cash point when our local Lloyds branch closes in November.

Summing up, Craig said: “As we come out of lockdown, Haslemere’s business community is in a strong position to increase footfall, attract visitors and cement its position at the heart of our local community.

“It’s often difficult to convey how much the Chamber does behind the scenes but making strong representation on policy issues to key stakeholders is a core part of our purpose. With a raft of new projects and initiatives underway, the Chamber is renewing its commitment to making our town flourish. We look forward to working hand -in-hand with all businesses, firms, companies and entrepreneurs over the coming year.”

Membership of Haslemere Chamber brings many benefits – including business promotion activities and opportunities to find customers, suppliers and staff in the Haslemere area. Annual membership is £60.  To find out more visit our website: https://haslemerechamber.co.uk/

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