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Haverhill Chamber Holds First AGM

Saturday, 18th June 2005.

Haverhill Chamber of Commerce held its first Annual General Meeting on Thursday June 16th 2005 at The Woodlands Hotel, Haverhill. This followed closely on the heels of the Haverhill Chamber Business Awards Gala Ball held on 21st May 2006.

Paul Donno explained to a large audience that the AGM had been delayed by two months due to committee focus being necessarily directed towards the Business Awards. He assured members this would not be the case next year.

The Haverhill Chamber was formed in December 2003 and held its public launch in February 2004 at Haverhill Arts Centre. Over 100 representatives from local businesses and organisations attended this event. The chamber's first business meeting took place in April 2004 and featured local MP, Dick Spring.

Since February 2004, membership has steadily increased and is currently just nudging the 100 mark. To date the Haverhill Chamber has forged a solid reputation while engineering a distinctive personality, breaking the mould by attracting many young entrepreneurs as well as senior business people.

Four local companies - Gold, Pure Energy Multimedia, Jefferson Computer Services and Paul Donno Accountants - worked hard to make the initiative a viable success after Charmaine Symonds first raised the idea in September 2003. Charmaine had been closely involved with the Essex Chambers for a number of years. When relocating part of her business to Haverhill, she had attempted to find out about a local chamber only to discover it didn't exist. Undeterred, she promptly joined the Suffolk Chamber and began to elicit support for forming a chamber in Haverhill.

Paul Donno agreed to stand as first chairman, Elaine Collins accepted the role of vice chair with responsibility for PR and marketing. Steve Abbott became treasurer while Charmaine Symonds agreed to be secretary and events organiser. Jason Fitzpatrick accepted the position of Membership Coordinator and Webmaster.

In June 2004 the committee of five were joined by Paul McGurl of Risk & Safety Solutions with Daniel Nabarro of Figleaves and Gerry Taylor of Taylor's Foundry agreeing to stand as honorary members.

Jason very quickly created a vibrant web presence for the new chamber. This high-impact website coupled with some eye-catching promotional material contributed enormously to raising the visibility of the Haverhill Chamber and Haverhill Business. Jason's company - Pure Energy Multimedia - has continued to sponsor the Haverhill Chamber by maintaining, developing and updating the website gratis.

The Design Office, another Haverhill company, also volunteered valuable and inspirational input into chamber events and the business awards cycle. Their design skills and stunning photography added sophistication and sparkle, while inadvertently 'creating' the contemporary face of Haverhill Business.

The history of the Haverhill Chamber was touched upon lightly by Paul Donno in his summary for the AGM. He commented on the many highlights of the past eighteen months, referring paticularly to BAA Stansted, Vibe FM and the Chamber's sponsorship of St Nicholas' Hospice. He lingered on the brilliance, glitz and impact of the awards cycle, the significance of each milestone and its culmination in the drama and spectacle of the ball.

Paul announced that - as had always been planned - excess funds raised during the Business Awards cycle would be added to the sum raised at the Gala Ball and presented to St Nicholas' Hospice. Although unable to reveal what this figure would be at the AGM, as it had not yet been finalised, he felt confident he would be able to determine the final sum in the following few weeks.

On a more practical level, Paul revealed that there had been a number of very welcome offers of help and nominations for the committee. Those already serving had agreed to stand again; these were carried through on voting. Two newcomers were also voted in, Dick Calvesbert [Suffolk Chamber] and James Tyler [Castle Manor].

Paul confirmed that the Haverhill Chamber's constitution was in place and had been endorsed by the Suffolk Chamber. Copies would be made available to all members and appear on the chamber website. One member suggested it would also be useful if the Minutes of Committee Meetings could appear on the website.

It was agreed the next AGM would take place in June 2006 rather than earlier in the year.

Founder member, Charmaine Symonds resigned from the Chamber Committee on the 30th May 2005, following the Haverhill Business Awards. She had played a key role in their success and, despite her resignation, will remain closely identified with the initiative.

Charmaine said: "The Haverhill Chamber's recent involvement in the very first, highly publicised Haverhill Business Awards has secured its position in the business community. The efforts of all its founder members have now established a firm foundation for future growth.

"The progress we have made in less than two years has been outstanding. With the injection of new blood on the committee, the chamber should now go from strength to strength."

Paul Donno will continue as chairman of the Haverhill Chamber for another year.

Haverhill Online News

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