Moving on to pastures new

Miranda Barker (centre)
Miranda Barker (centre)

MIRANDA Barker is the former Wigan president of Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. Here she has her final say before moving to pastures new.

As many of you will know by now, after 16 years involved in Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, 10 of them as Wigan president and vice-president, the time has sadly come for me to move on. My business itself has evolved and merged with a global environmental/sustainability firm, but of course this has taken me further away from Wigan and means I just can’t put in the time the Chamber deserves.

It has been a superb time to be local president for Wigan, through the 10 Greater Manchester Chambers merging to create the UK’s largest and definitely most vibrant Chamber – with of course Wigan as the jewel in the crown! We’ve seen the growth of some of our most successful local achievements and events – the now eight excellent Business Awards events showcasing our local talents, the birth of the Wigan Business Expo driven by local business in collaboration with the Council to help their vision be realised, and not forgetting the Wigan Borough Business Club.

My highlights also include working so closely with the council, Lord Peter Smith and some superb local Council staff, as the Chair of the Wigan Economic Partnership and guiding the management of over £24m of funds to support the local people and economy.

It’s been a privilege working with so many dedicated staff at the Chamber all focused on supporting Wigan, who do such a professional job for us all through the year but especially for the Business Awards - ably assisted by Charles Graham of course! I’ll never forget driving around the night before that first business awards with a car boot full of napkins and table decorations.

Throughout it all the one constant has been the support and enthusiasm of the local businesses, from the very first day John Winnard of WM Santus & Co and I walked into a Chamber meeting in 1997 to last Friday night’s wonderful celebration of our local business talent. And I’d like to thank you all for your support, and wish my successors led by John Hughes of Hughes Brothers, all the success in the world.