BRADFORD Chamber of Commerce’s second female president has spoken about the pride of being in business in the district, and of heading up the city’s leading business support and lobbying organisation.

Suzanne Watson, who runs Ilkley-based Approach PR, addressed the Chamber’s annual dinner to a packed audience at the Midland Hotel in Bradford, and spoke about the progress and changes that both she and the city have made in the last two decades.

Acknowledging the uncertainty being felt by her members since the result of the EU Referendum in 2016, and, belatedly, the current General Election campaign, Suzanne praised the local and regional business community for its ‘can do’ attitude and refusing to buckle in face of the obstacles set before it.

Since July 2019, Bradford Chamber has been led by an all-female leadership team – Suzanne’s vice-president is Vicky Wainwright, Managing Director of Naylor Wintersgill accountants. The female profile is further enhanced as the overall organisation, West & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, is run by Chief Executive, Sandy Needham DL.

In a speech full of pride, confidence, warmth and determination, Suzanne highlighted recent changes and successes, such as ten years as UNESCO City of Film, the literature festival and the current campaign to submit a bid for UK City of Culture 2025. The former journalist also stressed the importance of lobbying for improvements in transport, skills and breaking the devolution deadlock.

She also gave a nod to the work of her predecessor, Nick Garthwaite, who has masterminded the city’s manufacturing initiative to connect schools with the sector and provide work experiences to 10,000 young people since it began just two years ago.

Concluding her speech Suzanne said: “I am immensely proud to stand here this evening as your president of Bradford Chamber of Commerce. And I intend to be a motivating and an authentically representative president whose experience will inspire our next generation of entrepreneurs and business people to feel the fear and do it anyway.” She added: “I can’t think of a better business community to be working alongside. Bradford leads where others can only hope to follow. “

The event – attended by more than 300 businesses, politicians and civic dignitaries – was also addressed by BBC presenter Dan Walker.