National business body elects first Suffolk representative as chair

Sarah Howard MBE, a past president of Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, has achieved two historic firsts by being elected as the chair of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC). 

Sarah, who has held the role of vice-chair for two years, becomes the organisation’s chair with immediate effect. She is the first woman and first businessperson from Suffolk to occupy this prestigious post. 

The BCC is the UK’s leading business network and lobbying organisation made up of 53 accredited chambers across the UK, representing thousands of members from all sectors and of all sizes which when combined employ over 5 million workers. The BCC sits at the heart of a business network that spans the length and breadth of the UK, with increasingly strong links to markets across the world.

Sarah continues to run Haverhill-based Sarand Business Software with her partner – a company which is celebrating 25 years of trading in 2019. 

.She also chairs Abbeycroft Leisure, a not-for-profit organisation running leisure centres and health and well-being programmes across Suffolk and is a governor of West Suffolk College. 

She was awarded the MBE for her services to the community as chair of ONE Haverhill, a neighbourhood community programme. 

Dr Adam Marshall, Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “We are delighted to welcome Sarah Howard as Chair of the British Chambers of Commerce.  

“Sarah’s enthusiasm and dedication will be particularly valuable as we tackle the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for our business communities in these uncertain times. She has devoted significant time and expertise to the Chamber Network during her time on the BCC Board, and the team and I look forward to working even more closely with her in the coming years.” 

Sarah Howard herself added: “this is a great honour for me and I’m looking forward to helping the BCC team as they represent the views of the country’s wealth creators and risk takers. 

“In particular, I am keen to work with our 53 accredited chambers to help ensure that workers, whether they be just out of school or college or who are more experienced staff, have the skills and support needed to contribute to businesses’ longer-term growth plans. 

“The BCC’s newly-launched Workplace Training and Development Commission will play a unique and vital role in highlighting the needs of businesses in this regards.” 

John Dugmore, chief executive of Suffolk Chamber, explained that: “Sarah’s achievement is a well-deserved recognition of her outstanding and sustained contributions on the national stage. She has helped the BCC and our network deliver campaign success after campaign success for our members and the wider business community 

“It also says a great deal both about the growing reality of gender equality in the workplace – although much more work needs to be done – and the rising importance of our county in key growth sectors – that we now have both the first woman and the first Suffolk businessperson in this national role.”

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