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over the reins at Sutton Coldfield, Cannock Chase, and Lichfield and Tamworth, as well as the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce (ABCC) and Commonwealth Chamber. Taking over at the latter (see page 33) is Birmingham businessman Joel Blake, who is founder and CEO of fintech business GFA Exchange. Mr Blake has literally worked his way up from

Chamber welcomes new presidents T

he Chamber has welcomed new presidents at no fewer than five of its divisions. The new presidents are taking

Recruitment, is to be Lichfield and Tamworth Chamber of Commerce’s new president (see page 38). He will be taking over the presidential baton

the bottom, beginning employment at 16 in a recycling factory, where he had to peel stickers off hangers. Along the way, he became the UK’s first national diversity adviser for golf, helping to open up the sport to more than 5,000 new diverse participants. He is national ambassador for the Institute of Leadership and Management, a fellow of the National Centre for Entrepreneurs, and a non-executive director of two other companies. He was awarded an OBE for services to business support and enterprise in 2016. At the ABCC, the new president is the director

of one of the UK’s biggest wholesale businesses (see page 42). Jason Wouhra is succeeding Qasim Majid, who

has served as ABCC president for the past two years. Mr Wouhra is chief executive of Lionscroft

Wholesale Ltd T/A East End Wholesale Stores but also holds a number of prominent positions across Birmingham, including being a governor of Aston University and non-executive director of University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Trust, as well as past and present chairmanships of the West Midlands India Partnership, Library of Birmingham Advisory Board, Birmingham Child Poverty Commission and Aston University Development Board. He joined East End Foods after completing his

Meet the new presidents (clockwise from rear left): Jason Wouhra, Joel Blake, Gill Durkin and Jason Challoner

law degree in 1998 and was director and company secretary until the company’s sale to a private equity firm in 2019. This year he led a buy-back of the cash and carry business. At Sutton, taking over the top job is Phil

Arkinstall, who becomes the young division’s third president (see page 39). Mr Arkinstall is managing director of video

production firm Ark Media and has succeeded Katie Hale. Born and raised in Sutton, Mr Arkinstall said one of his aims during his term as

from James Blackman, managing director of Cocoonfxmedia, who served a lengthy four-year term. Mr Blackman is to carry on representing the Chamber in the role of honorary chairman. Mr Challoner has run his recruitment agency,

which specialises in the construction, technical and building service sectors, for seven years, based at Chase Terrace Academy. Prior to Valyou, Jason held several senior

recruitment and sales roles, and he is also chairman of the South Staffs Employment & Skills Board (SSESB). He has served as executive committee member for Lichfield and Tamworth Chamber since 2019 and will take over as president at the organisation’s annual general meeting this month. The fifth new president is Gill Durkin, who is

moving up to the top job from her current role as vice-president at Cannock Chamber. She is taking over from Martyn Jupp next

month (see page 36). Mrs Durkin has worked for training provider

Performance Through People for the past 28 years, starting out as an account manager before rising through the ranks to the role of director. She says that business is in her blood, and she

is looking forward to building relationships between the Chamber and local firms.

president would be to carry on with the division’s ‘EcoPledge’ campaign, which has been taken up by a number of member firms. He also pledged to support local businesses

as the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic continued. Jason Challoner, managing director of Valyou

October 2020 CHAMBERLINK5

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