Supporting the Heart of the Business Community
The longest standing member of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gill Akaster LLP Solicitors, is continuing its support of the organisation by putting up one of its own team for election to the board of directors.
Stuart Elford is Gill Akaster’s director of operations and development and has previously run his own businesses and has an experienced background spanning the public, private and third (charity) sectors.
Having served for 17 years as a police officer, Stuart started a small PR business at Tamar Science Park in 2005, growing it to establish a full-service brand communications agency that rebranded Gill Akaster in 2008. After he sold the business in 2009 he continued as a business and communications consultant looking after a diverse range of clients, including a private plastic surgery clinic and local sailor and adventurer Pete Goss MBE, before joining Gill Akaster in 2012. He is honoured to serve as chair of St Luke’s Hospice and sits on the board of governors at Plymouth College.
Stuart is standing for election to promote partnership working and to represent the whole business spectrum, including the charity sector. He believes that the third sector has been vastly underrepresented in the city. Charities and social enterprises play an increasing role in the delivery of public services and contribute more than £50 billion to the UK economy annually. By way of comparison, this is more than Tesco where one in five retail pounds is apparently spent. In the South West more than 10% of the workforce is in the third sector – the third largest next to London and the South East.
This diverse and valuable sector, along with the professional services, should be represented at the Chamber of Commerce, says Stuart: “You can either sit on the sidelines or get involved and help, which is what I want to do. I hope people will think my involvement with St Luke’s and Plymouth College and my background in public service, combined with the experience of having run my own business and now working for Gill Akaster, means I can represent the wider community with a breadth of understanding.”
Gill Akaster’s managing partner, Stephen Ramsden, added: “Gill Akaster is a long-time supporter and member of Plymouth Chamber and has a large commercial team working with business at the coal face of commerce. Having made a conscious decision to actively support the wider community in which we operate, it made perfect sense for us to be more involved with the Chamber and fully support Stuart’s nomination.”
With its natural resources, innovative people, exceptional educational establishments and world-class businesses, Plymouth has unfulfilled potential that Stuart says can be unlocked by working together: “Like every businessperson I want a vibrant business community with less red tape for SME’s, more access to investment and greater transport connectivity. However, I also believe that innovative partnerships between the public and private sectors, higher education, charities, social enterprises and the business community, all collaborating for the greater good of the city, can drive success for everyone – making Plymouth truly the healthy, wealthy, safe and wise city it aspires to be.”