North Tyneside Business Forum has announced that its Chair Karen Goldfinch, and Vice Chair Andrew Esson, will be stepping down at the end of a three-year term serving the business community.
Heading up the Forum with their expertise in the business sector, Karen and Andrew have raised the profile of the North Tyneside Business Forum locally, regionally, and nationally, increasing engagement of the local business community.
The two voluntary roles have involved offering strategic direction, leading the Forum Management Group to support Forum members, working with partner organisations, sitting on numerous boards and committees, and coordinating events.
Karen, who previously served as Vice Chair for three years, has been a member of the Management Group since the Forum was founded in 2010. Her experience in business spans almost 40 years, having previously been Whitley Bay Chamber of Trade Chair and owning retail outlets in the town. She currently owns two businesses, bespoke wedding stationery and events management firm Made to Treasure Events and business consultancy Karen Goldfinch – Your Business Pilot.
Vice Chair, Andrew Esson, a semi-retired chartered engineer, offers non-executive, advisory and consultancy services with a focus on business transformation and operational improvement.
During the pair’s tenure, the Forum has seen membership grow from 1,100 members to over 2,000, member profiles have been raised with increased media coverage and a significant rise in peer-to-peer support and partnership engagement. The Forum has previously been awarded the Spirit of North Tyneside award for ‘outstanding contribution to North Tyneside’.
John Sparkes, Director of Regeneration and Economic Development at North Tyneside Council said: “Both Karen and Andrew have been great ambassadors for the Forum and have supported local businesses with advice on grants and been the link between businesses and the Council, and I’m sure they will be sorely missed. They were particularly supportive during the pandemic, working tirelessly to get grants out to affected businesses.”
Karen and Andrew’s appointment to the roles came during the first wave of the pandemic and much of their attention was given to provide support throughout the pandemic.
“It was a baptism of fire,” said Karen. “The Management Group worked hard to ensure that key information and grants were distributed to our members. From a practical side we were there to support our members, as business owners ourselves we could relate to the pressures we were all facing and provided an ear to listen as well as being the link between businesses and the local authority. We also initiated campaigns between businesses and the community to make and distribute more than 11,000 scrub bags and 4,000 hearts to go to those in need in NHS and care homes.”
“I’ve enjoyed working closely with Andrew and the Forum’s Management Group, but our time volunteering had to end sometime as we both stayed in post a year longer than we should have to ensure continuity for our members. It’s been challenging but rewarding too as we have seen so many good businesses, large and small shine in North Tyneside.”
Andrew joined the Management Group in 2012 to represent the manufacturing and engineering community and is now looking forward to his retirement: “It’s been a real pleasure to be part of the Forum over the last decade, and to be able to contribute to the development of the forum as a Management Group member, and more recently as Vice Chair.”
Karen, as well as concentrating on her businesses is looking forward to her next challenge: “I’ve really enjoyed my time at the Forum. I’m immensely proud of helping our business community through the most difficult times during the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. I’ve made some fantastic friends and connections over the North East and my 13 years has flown over.
“I’ve gained a lot of valuable experience and now is the time to open another chapter in my career and move on to help another organisation, when the right opportunity comes along,” she said
An announcement on the incoming Chair & Vice-Chair will be made in due course.
The North Tyneside Business Forum is run by a Management Group made up of members from various industry sectors in the Borough and gives support in the form of networking, events and signposting for growth and development. Membership is free and open to any business of any size trading within North Tyneside. The Business Forum is supported by North Tyneside Council.
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