An 80 year-old business chamber helps town to save a vital community space

Cllr Ramage hands over a cheque to Tina Townsend, chair of Witham Chamber of Commerce

Cllr Ramage hands over a cheque to Tina Townsend, chair of Witham Chamber of Commerce - Credit: Archant

A business chamber which is about to celebrate its 80 year anniversary has helped to ensure that a vital community hub can carry on serving its home town.

Tina Townsend with her local MP Priti Patel

Tina Townsend with her local MP Priti Patel - Credit: Archant

The first meeting of Witham Chamber of Commerce was held on March 13 1939 in the back room at the George Pub in the Essex town, and in more recent times, it’s grown to accommodate neighbouring Coggeshall’s chamber too.

Last month, Witham Chamber supported efforts to raise more than £24,000 to secure the future of The Witham Community Hub, which is based at the Newland Shopping Centre.

Witham Chamber’s chair Tina Townsend said: “We want to say a massive thank you to the councillors who have supported us, we really wanted to keep the hub going. Since taking it over, we have had groups contacting us to use the space and we are delighted to already have five regular groups using the facilities with more enquiries being taken; its clearly a space the community wants and needs’

Belinda Bouttell, who volunteers as the Hub manager said she had been at a “very low ebb” when first asked to help out. “I love volunteering at the Hub,” she said. “It has given me a place, a purpose, helped me learn new skills and I feel alive. I’ve made lots of new friends too. This place literally has given me the boost I needed.”

Witham's high street Picture: GOOGLE MAPS

Witham's high street Picture: GOOGLE MAPS - Credit: GOOGLE MAPS

Next month, to coincide with its 80th anniversary, Witham Chamber is holding its second showcase event, which will give more than 30 exhibitors the opportunity to network and find out about local business.

The event is run in partnership with Braintree District Council and there will be an opportunity to talk to people from the council about the support they can provide businesses.

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Councillor Tom Cunningham, Cabinet Member for Economic Development said: “Businesses, large and small, are at the heart of our communities and we are committed to help grow our economy. We are excited by the future for this district as our investments pave the way for businesses who are attracted to the area. With an abundance of talent and support for businesses, the Business Showcase is where we can come together to share knowledge, network and collaborate with each other.”

The free event will be held in the Witham Public Hall at 11am on March 13.