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East Midlands Chamber’s Annual Dinner returns to raise money for charities

Posted onPosted on 27th Sep

Eileen Richards reflected on her journey to businesswoman and East Midlands Chamber president as the Chamber’s Annual Dinner returned to a live audience.

The owner of ER Recruitment also spoke about her priorities for the Chamber and region as she took to the stage at Colwick Hall, in Nottingham, on Thursday 23 September.

It was the first Annual Dinner since March 2019 and the event raised £1,130 to be split between Eileen’s three chosen charities – Chesterfield Samaritans, Help the Homeless Leicester and Nottinghamshire Hospice.

Decision-making was the key theme of Eileen’s speech, as she explained how she took the plunge to resign from a senior position in a national corporate to set up her own business.

She said: “Decision-making in my life has invariably involved people and resilience.

“As one of seven children – we weren’t a wealthy family, but we were taught to respect and love one another – I’ve spent a lifetime balancing the needs of others while carving a niche for myself.”

Eileen explained how she has had to delicately balance her professional and personal life throughout her life, including the decision to take on the role of Chamber president in December last year, but said she has been supported by both the Chamber and ER Recruitment teams.

Her 12-month term began with three priorities – growing member-to-member relations, increasing business engagement with young leaders via Generation Next, and representing firms during the regional economic recovery.

Highlighting the role of the Chamber in the region’s business community, she said its frontline team handled more than 280 enquiries every week, its international trade team processes nine export documents every working hour, and its messages were amplified by media coverage reaching 100 million people in the past 12 months.

“So what comes next?,” she said. “Well, of course many of the biggest challenges we face will be mitigated or exacerbated by the decision-making of our political leaders.

“How will they manage the end of furlough and the infection rate as winter approaches? Will the Levelling Up White Paper lead to a more equitable resource settlement in our region?

“When will a clear decision come on HS2? What does net zero mean for our members?”

Eileen, who will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Enterprising Women network next year alongside co-chair and past president Jean Mountain, added: “The external environment continues to throw out opportunities and threats that the Chamber and its officers will continue to monitor, challenge and champion on behalf of its members.”

About 350 people attended the black-tie gala, which included a speech by General Sir Timothy Granville-Chapman, a former vice-chief of Defence Staff of the British Armed Forces.

He gave an update on the Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC), which is currently being built at the Stanford Hall Estate, on the Leicestershire-Nottinghamshire border, and requires further investment.

Former Leicester Tigers and England rugby player Leon Lloyd also gave a keynote address about how to translate learnings from teamwork in sport into business.

He is co-founder and CEO of Switch the Play Foundation, the UK’s first charity to focus on assisting athletes and military personnel with successfully transitioning into the world of business, and published the book Life After Sport: From Boot Room to Boardroom, about career transition.