On a bright February morning in sunny Sale, chaired by current President, Paul Daine, the 108th Annual General Meeting of the Altrincham & Sale Chamber was opened by the Mayor of Trafford, Cllr Jonathan Coupe at The Belmore. Announcing how very impressed he continues to be by the ongoing efforts of the Chamber for local businesses, and observing what it brings to the local community, he also declared that when his mayoral responsibilities end in May of this year, he is looking forward to getting more involved with the Chamber from a business perspective.

Chamber CEO, Sue Aldridge then continued the positive reflections and provided a wonderful review of 2017, reporting that she had witnessed many improvements across Altrincham, especially when it comes to representing members and working with local issues. Commending the changes to the way the Chamber works, she also acknowledged the growing success of Chamber events.

It was announced that 2018 would welcome the return of evening mixer events and continuing to work in partnership with Turkish Airlines as the main sponsor of the Chamber Business awards. This working relationship brings many extra benefits to members of the Chamber, including supporting members with mentoring opportunities.

The AGM was concluded with Tony Collier talking through the successful accounts for the previous period, and for the first time, delegates were invited to proceed to move into the setting of the New Year Lunch for the installation of the Chamber’s new President.

After some enjoyable networking in a buzzing room, including plenty of ‘catching up’ between members and a number of Slater Heelis staff that had come to support their leader on this celebratory occasion, the Chamber’s Patron, the Mayor of Trafford, once again took to the floor and to the now audience of over 60 guests, talked about local positive changes, including the local construction of UA University as a collaboration between Manchester United’s famous Class of 1992 (Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville, and Paul Scholes), and Lancaster University which started proceedings for today’s event with delight.

The meeting soon turned to the installation of the Chamber President for 2018, which so many of the audience had come to witness; local Sale law firm Partner, Mike Fox was presented with the honour of the President’s chain by the Mayor of Trafford thus installing him as the 107th President of Altrincham & Sale Chamber, to a very welcoming applaud from the entire room. Mike then installed Paul Daine as the Deputy President and made his way to the podium to address the audience.

Mike began by thanking all guests for attending the lunch today, and after specifically thanking MP Sir Graham Brady, he declared that he was “looking forward to hearing about King Arthur’s table or should we say Queen Theresa?!” Mike then shared a story about how his career got started in 1977, when he joined Slater Heelis solicitors firm in Sale, after his sister’s best friend called to say ‘someone hadn’t turned up’. In referring to the agenda for today’s event and that he only had three minutes allocated for his speech by Office Manager, Anne Jardine, resulting in the eruption of laughter from the guests. Mike went on to acknowledge the excellent work of former Chamber President Paul Daine, and how they aim to work together to encourage more members ‘to say what they want from the Chamber’.

Although the Chamber is looking towards the future, Mike shared some lessons from the past, that continue to ring true today. Curious about the history of Slater Heelis’ involvement with the Chamber, Mike found out from a local archivist at Sale Town Hall that the firm’s membership pre-dates World War One. He also discovered that both the firm and the Chamber withstood the challenges of the Second World War and the aftermath, despite declarations on documented minutes at a meeting two months before the outbreak of war that it would ‘never happen’!

After examining the minutes from the Sale Chamber of Trade dating back to 1938, he found the organisation survived despite struggling for members. He also found some helpful customer service advice dating back to 1941:

  • always smile
  • make sure your product is what customers want
  • if keep customers happy, they’ll come back for more

Concluding with the reflection of ‘have things really changed?’ Mike took his seat and invited guests to enjoy their lunch.

The menu featured a starter of duck paté, followed by main course which for today’s celebratory event was breast of chicken in mustard sauce. There was agreement all around the room of satisfied taste buds and contentment, which followed nicely with the room then hearing from Chairman Tony Collier as he steps down from his role at the Chamber:

“As many of you will know I have had to make the difficult decision to reduce my commitments to the community in Altrincham due to ill health. I have been involved in the Chamber for the best part of 35 years as I was originally the external accountant who prepared the Chambers accounts. I ultimately joined the Finance Board around 12-13 years ago, taking over as Chairman of the Finance Board some 2 years later before serving two years as President and the last few years as Chairman. Over the last 4 years I have chaired the Altrincham Neighbourhood Business Plan Forum and Sue, via her work with the BID and I, have worked hard to contribute to Altrincham’s revival.

As someone born and bred in Altrincham I’m extremely pleased to see the town now busy and vibrant.

I have to say that it’s been a real pleasure being involved with the Chamber and I would particularly like to thank Anne Jardine and Sue Aldridge for all their support over the years. Thank you also to the Board members who commit their time free of any charge to help the Chamber develop and grow and I wish Sue, Anne, Paul and the entire Board, all the very best of success for the future.”

Tony wished the Chamber well in the future and assured guests, many of whom were members, that he intends to be present at as many events as possible but that it was time to hand the baton on to others. Tony’s work for the Chamber was very obviously greatly appreciated, with all attendees acknowledging sincere thanks for his support over so many years.


Sir Graham Brady MP addressed the guests with an update on parliamentary matters after which many of the guests asked several questions. Sir Graham was happy to respond but said he felt he had heard a couple of questions which he suspected had been repeated over the years, much to the amusement of the guests.

Sir Graham Brady MP presented Tony with a silver tankard and his wife Tracey with a basket of flowers on behalf of the Chamber.

Mike Fox announced that a final surprise was in store for Tony whereupon Denise Laver presented him with the Silver Lion’s Award on behalf of the Court Leet. Tony was overwhelmed when the guests gave him a standing ovation.

The lunch had been a great success in every aspect.


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