In the beginning…
It was in September 1986 that six (then still young!) businessmen – a solicitor, a newspaper editor, a building society manager, an hotelier, a butcher and a public relations consultant – met over a convivial lunch at the Abbots Well (now the Mercure Chester East) Hotel.
A germ of an idea developed to set up some kind of new ‘business’ organisation – but different from the existing ones where, for example, accountants, hoteliers, solicitors, estate agents, bankers and the like joined their respective ‘institution’ associations and, in the main, did little to promote ‘Chester’ beyond their organisations’ own terms of reference.
The six Founder Members of what became the Chester Business Club wanted to create a new business grouping that business people wanted to belong to rather than the one they felt obligated to join.
Further convivial lunches followed the first gathering, initially just the ‘founding six’ who, in addition to talking through the various requirements for the new Club, wanted a ‘figurehead’ to give the fledgling organisation an essential degree of respectability-cum-gravitas. It was a unanimous decision to invite R T (Tom) Hunt, then the MD of Chronicle Newspapers, to become the first President. Happily for the ‘six’, Tom accepted!
The lunch gatherings (always convivial!) continued, first with the Founder Members each inviting one other businessman (no women then!) to the next lunch; then the ‘twelve’ each inviting one other person to the one after that – and before long there were 96 individuals who had accepted invitations to become CBC Members.
At that stage the intention was to ‘close’ the membership at 100 but the activities and growing influence of the Club meant that more and more businessmen – and by then, businesswomen – wanted to become members. The number of Members was gradually increased, first to 125, then 150, 175 and, now, 199 – with invitations to join always extended on a personal rather than corporate basis although, once admitted, Members do largely represent their business/ organisation.
One of the principal activities over the years have been the Speaker Dinners. The principal aim of these Black Tie events is to provide an impartial forum for leading commentators – from Business, Politics, Media, The Arts and Public Life ~ to speak on a topic of their own choosing, as a positive contribution to increasing public awareness of the important issues of the day. And as the Club has also built up a reputation for providing speakers with a happy and welcoming bunch of people as an audience, they tend be socially agreeable occasions too!
In addition to the Speaker Dinners CBC also holds a number of ‘social’ activities (e.g., Drinks Receptions), Charity fundraisers (e.g., an annual Charity Walk and annual Charity Ball), informal dinners and networking events (e.g., Member evenings at local businesses’ offices).
Another feature of CBC activities has been the social weekends (sometimes longer) the Club has organised. These have taken us to London, Paris, New York (twice), Florence, the Cotswolds, New Orleans, Dublin, Venice, the Lake District and San Francisco and Dublin.
Succeeding Tom Hunt as President have been Andrew Wood (NWS Bank plc), Ron Smith (Landsmith Ltd), David Pickering (Meadow Foods Ltd) and the current incumbent, David Faulkner (NWN Media Ltd).…