A room of colleagues, friends, family and well-wishers joined together at Sale FC Rugby Club to celebrate the appointment of Mike Fox as the new President of Altrincham & Sale Chamber. CEO, Sue Aldridge opened the evening by welcoming everyone and introducing Mike as a man described as ‘so Sale’ and Sue announced the Chamber’s delight at having him on board.
The room raised their glasses to toast the new Chamber President, who welcomed everyone to Sale FC Rugby Club. Mike praised the venue, after he had first been welcomed by Mike Jefferson to the opening of the suite and is pleased to see the success of the venue as a function room.
‘Have you heard the news about Foxy…?’
Mike, or ‘Foxy’ as he is known to his friends, began with an amusing tale of mis-communication that highlighted the confusion surrounding his appointment, as he’s been mistaken for President of Sale FC Rugby Club by several of his associates! He compared the mistake to a tale about the Duke of Wellington, who, at Waterloo, is said to have told his general to ‘pass a message back to basecamp, we need reinforcements to make an advance’. However, on arrival at basecamp, this was received as ‘send three and four pence we’re having a dance’. The audience laughed warmly at the ‘Chinese whispers’ in action around his Chamber appointment.
And, whilst the honour of President of Sale FC Rugby Club would be inviting, Mike stated that the prestige of being Altrincham & Sale Chamber’s President has achieved worldwide status. The news of Mike’s new Chamber role has travelled further than expected thanks to a series of international coincidences that led to a clipping from the Sale & Altrincham Messenger being picked up by a friend in Doha, Qatar.
From Glasgow to Sale
Wanting to let people know a little more about him, Mike took the room back to his childhood, as he shared his journey to President. Born in Glasgow and raised in Gatley, his father worked for Gillette as an accounts manager, and Mike and sister attended school in Didsbury, reminiscing over the lengthy journey they would make to school every day that parents of five and six-year olds today wouldn’t likely attempt in current circumstances. After passing his eleven plus he went to grammar school, where Mike aspired to be a train driver, long before the thought of becoming a solicitor crossed his mind.
After school, Mike went to Sheffield to study accountancy at university, but switched to law studies after 12 months, largely because he couldn’t understand his lecturer, which raised a laugh from the audience. Mike achieved his law degree, and then spent a further 6 months at law college in Chester. However, during his time here, he hadn’t lined up potential work opportunities with solicitor firms once he’d finished, and at one point he ended up working with Whitby Construction in the sewers on Greg Street, which entertained the room somewhat.
Fortune intervened one day, when his sister’s friend called him to work with Slater Heelis because somebody hadn’t turned up for an article clerk position. Forty years ago, Mike was fortunate to have worked with former senior partner Mike Hamlin and met his wife Margaret there (Mrs Fox was also here to celebrate with Mike). Filled with youthful ambition, Mike left Slater Heelis because he hadn’t been offered a partner position after two years of working there, moving to a firm in Heaton Moor called Webb, Littler, Collier and Kilbeck. In 1999, equity partner Mike Hamlin called with a proposition. Slater Heelis was effectively de-merging, the Manchester office was to disappear, leaving the Sale office on its own. The firm was comprised of many senior commercial property lawyers in Manchester but had lost employment lawyers, so it was proposed that the offices of Littler and Collier with Slater Heelis should combine. With 80 % of the work relating to property, and the risks associated with the property market, the opportunity to put the two firms together was both sensible and timely, and for Mike it felt like a homecoming, returning to the office he’d worked in twenty years earlier. Mike is now a senior partner of Slater Heelis LLP, and hasn’t looked back since making the move, thanks to enjoying his work and meeting great people along the way.
Mike referred to Christine Stout and her passion for Sale, but he also declared his pride in living in Sale and supporting the community and businesses, including the rugby club, gym and hostelries (which was met with knowing laughter form the audience) in the area and relishes his role in helping the area to grow and thrive. He referred to his Scottish roots and raised the subject of a recent rugby win at Murrayfield, which was met with jovial boos from the crowd, but then moved on to praise the great work of the Chamber and encouraged people to join to receive the benefits on offer.
A time for thanks and laughter
Mike concluded his speech thanking the catering services, photographer Martin Hambleton, and finally Anne Jardine for organising and co-ordinating the event.
Mike also acknowledged the dedication to and the great role played by ex-Chair Tony Collier in the success of the Chamber and praised him for his continuing fundraising efforts for Cancer charities, and said that he and David Bellin, the new Chair, have a hard act to follow in ‘Mr Altrincham’. This was met with applause.
Guests attending the event were also treated to a delicious canape selection as they chatted and networked, featuring modern twists on traditional favourites such as a roast beef stuffed mini Yorkshire puddings, mini baked shepherd’s pie, mini baked cheese and leek cottage pie, pesto and tomato salsa bruschetta slices and chicken lollipops with mango mayo.
But the culinary delights didn’t end there, as attendees were seated they were able to choose from baked spinach and ricotta cannelloni, crispy breaded fish and chip cones with tartar sauce, sweet pineapple chicken with fragrant rice, BBQ pulled pork on brioche bun, and a vegetarian chickpea tagine with Mediterranean couscous.
Sue gave a further speech and toasted the four Mikes at the bar, and as the evening drew to a close, old friends and colleagues joined Mike in chorus of Rod Stewart’s ‘I don’t wanna talk about it’ much to the amusement of some of the other guests!