CHAIRMAN’S REPORT FOR 2019/2020

As we all know the pandemic hit in Jan/Feb 2020 and changed greatly the work of BDCC and in effect led to 12 months of purdah. We were building on from our growth in 2018 but we have had to re-trench and the number of members is 90. However, we do send information out via our mail chimp to about 140 different people.

For the last year the Chamber’s emphasis has been to help members secure any grants, loans or other monies available from both local and central government, and to notify members immediately we are aware of them. To this end we are working more closely with local government bodies and receive prompt information from HMG, regarding available monies, and on how to apply. This is mailed to all when we receive it.

Breakfast and Lunch Meetings

In 2019 these were proving to be a success and were settling into their own formats. Breakfast includes an initial get together and a formal speaker, lunch is operated on a more informal basis. Both venues, Berkhamsted Cricket Club and the Highwayman are welcoming and very pleasant. In 2020 we cancelled nearly all meetings. We expect to re-start by May 2021 and look forward to very relaxed networking sessions. As many of you know Simon Double has been running these very successfully, and I hope this will continue in the same vein for 2021 and the future.

We ran a couple of Zoom networking sessions in 2020 and a further one in March 2021.

Other Events

In 2019 we held a barbecue, but due to the weather it was indoors, and also our annual day at the races, but were unable to do this in 2020. The barbecue, which will be run by Simon Double, will take place this year on the 30th June at the cricket club, and more information will be given nearer the date. We have decided that we will use the barbecue to collect money for five local charities who are chamber members. There was also a wine tasting in 2019, and we hope to do another later on this year, probably in the Old Town Hall.

Committee

Garrick Stevens and Nigel Taylor both local councillors joined our committee during the period, as did Toby Trigg who runs Tobias Oliver Ltd on the High Street, if anyone wishes to participate in the committee meetings, which are held on every second Wednesday of each month, please contact peteels12@gmail.com. We are also looking for someone to act as secretary, and again contact me if you are interested and I can tell you more about the role.

Finally, I would like to thank all our committee members for the work they do to keep the Chamber operating, without them we would not have a functional organisation. The committee is Pete Elsworth, Shirley Hall, Simon Double, John Gerry, Ian Reay, Toby Trigg, Susan Dobinson, Garrick Stevens, Richard Thompson, Nigel Taylor, Pat Daley.

Shirley Hall, our treasurer, has prepared our accounts for 2019/2020 and they show that we are solvent with £21.7k of cash reserves, despite my attempts to spend it. I would like to thank Shirley for the work that she does in looking after our accounts.

Business of the Year Award

John Gerry was looking at a new formal for the awards, but the pandemic stopped everything. He will be re-initiating the awards for  our AGM in April 2022, and more information will be issued during the year.

Medieval Festival

We were planning to run a medieval festival, knights in armour, longbows, falconry in the August bank holiday 2020, but this had to be cancelled. We have also taken the reluctant decision to cancel 2021 due to major uncertainties regarding Covid. However, this will take place in the August bank holiday in 2022, using both the Cricket Club and Kitchener’s Field as the main sites. We are doing this in conjunction with a number of Berkhamsted societies and organisations and all surplus funds will be donated to local charities.

Susan Dobinson is co-ordinating our work with local primary schools to present the Town with a medieval tapestry at the Festival.

High Street

Over the past two years we have been in discussion with our local councils about increasing the footfall in the High Street. This would mean that there would be more busines generated. The opening of the multi-storey car park, which has over 300 spaces, should alleviate the need to find parking in the town, and increase footfall. There have been discussions and proposals to encourage people to use this facility which would reduce congestion in the High Street making it more attractive to pedestrian shoppers.

There is a Heritage hub committee which is seeking funds to emphasis the Town’s heritage in order to attract tourism, but this activity has been deferred due to the pandemic. The Chamber has taken an active role in these discussions.

Looking forward

As the country begins to open up and vaccination allows us to gradually return to a more normal life, the Chamber will support any activity or function which enhances the well being of the area. If you wish to discuss any of this, or have any ideas how we can improve our local community please contact me at peteels12@gmail.com

 

Pete Elsworth – Chairman