Long-serving Uckfield Chamber of Commerce member Peter Gale has retired from the organisation’s executive committee.
He is being presented with an engraved decanter to mark the occasion.
Chris Lawson, who has just stepped down after three years as president of the Chamber, told Uckfield News that Peter originally joined the Chamber 1970s and has had a close involvement with it for 50 years.
For about half that time he has served in some capacity on the executive committee, including as president and treasurer.
Peter’s retirement was announced an the Chamber’s virtual AGM and Chris said afterwards: “It’s such a shame that we couldn’t have a proper meeting as we would have been delighted to have presented it to him in front of the members attending the AGM and we thank him most sincerely for his long years of service.”
Chris who joined the Chamber back in 1987 and was president for three years in the 1990s said completion of the last three years mean he has served as president more times than anybody else in the last 60 years.
He said: “I have always believed in standing up for the business point of view which doesn’t always make you very popular with councillors and planners but the business voice needs to be heard.
“I also strongly believe that business has a role to play in the wider community and I’m particularly pleased at some of the achievements that we have made in the last three years.”
In reviewing his time as president Chris, a partner in commercial agents Lawson Commercial, said:
“The Chamber worked with Uckfield Town Council and provided the finance for an extra camera in the new CCTV system to cover some of the exits from the industrial estate, close to TR Fastenings.
“I’m particularly proud that we were able to kick start the Youth Trust again, playing an active role with the local management and providing some vital monies to get them going.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had 60-80 youngsters attending regular meetings and we are involved in arranging their move to new premises and hopefully that close connection will continue in the future.
“The Chamber is active on Local Plan matters, preparing and submitting a written proposal to the Planning Inspector. I represented the Chamber at the public hearing and was able to put forward the Chamber’s views to the Inspector in 2019.
“The 2018 Business Awards was a tremendous success with over 300 attending and with all finalists in all 15 categories being at the dinner.
“It was a fantastic evening showcasing the many successful and diverse businesses in the Uckfield area. Sadly the pandemic lockdowns of 2020 meant that the Awards had to be postponed and hopefully a new committee will be able to look at whether it is feasible to run them in 2021 or 2022.
“During my presidency we completely rebuilt and relaunched the Chamber’s website which provides all the latest information about Chamber activities, providing links through Eventbrite to the various different meetings and it has a comprehensive business directory.
“During the pandemic it has been absolutely invaluable, being a vital source of information about the latest government initiatives and help for businesses. It has also allowed members to promote their businesses through the website and has been ably managed by secretary Ian Noble.
“We have been active in organising additional meetings including the launch of the breakfast networking meetings, open not only to Chamber members but to any business in the area and they have proved highly successful.
“It’s currently postponed because of the pandemic but hopefully will be re-activated once the lockdowns are lifted. We’ve had joint Chamber barbecues with Hailsham and Crowborough Chambers and hosted a speed networking event with Sussex Chamber of Commerce in Uckfield.
“Uckfield has continued to play its part with the Association of East Sussex Chambers of Commerce and hosted one of their meetings in Uckfield putting the Chamber’s view to officers and leading councillors of Wealden District Council.
“We have also vociferously protested about the UK Power Network plans to start their roadworks in September 2020, just as retailers were about to open, and also protested about cuts to the fire service in June of last year.
“With the pandemic we had to adapt so instigated tZoom meetings for members and Twitter hour on Fridays, again ably run by the secretary.
“We were involved with the town council for the ‘Shop Local’ campaign which promotes shopping in the area once the lockdowns in 2020 were lifted.
“We put together an eight-page submission on the Wealden consultation ‘Direction of Travel’ for the local plan and had new ideas to promote an Uckfield Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Award.
“This was due to be launched at the 2020 AGM but had to be postponed due to the pandemic.
“All in all a very busy three-year period. I would like to thank everyone on the executive committee for their support. I think we achieved a great deal. I would like to think that we have a good reputation in the business community and amongst the community generally for the work that we do in supporting and promoting the success of our town.”
• Peter Gale shared Uckfield memories when he marked 50 years at Swindells accountants. Read his story here: Peter Gale looks back over 50 years at Uckfield accountants
(The new president of Uckfield Chamber is Gary King. The vice-president is Chris Dowling and new executive committee members include: Margaret Dodi Angel from Sussex Support Service, Chris Thorne of C J Thorne & Co, and Gordon Mankelow.)