Top table at the President’s lunch was (L-R), David Burns Chief Executive LCCC, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP, Denise Watson, Minister, Gordon Lyons MLA, Garry MacDonald Chamber President and the Mayor, Alderman Stephen Martin

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson among guests celebrating 60 years of Lisburn's Chamber of Commerce

Lisburn Chamber of Commerce marked their 60th anniversary year with a special President’s Lunch held at Hinch Distillery recently.

Due to public health guidance, numbers were restricted to 60 guests and the event was sponsored by Coca Cola HBC.

MC at the lunch was Chamber Ambassador, Denise Watson and current Chamber President, Garry MacDonald who welcomed guests and referred to the first meeting held in April 1961 when Hugh Bass was elected the first President.

Mr McDonald explained: ‘‘In total, 42 presidents have worn the chain of office and it was a privilege to host this event.’’

General Manager of Coca Cola HBC, Miles Karemacher had travelled from Dublin for the event and congratulated the Chamber on reaching 60 years.

The event’s keynote speaker was the Economy Minister who pledged to keep his focus on recovery and rebuilding the economy as he praised the resilience and creativity of Northern Ireland’s businesses.

He said “Covid19 has dramatically reshaped our economy but it has also highlighted the resilience and creativity of our business community. It has given us all a determination to rebuild and refocus our economy as we seek to deliver our 10X vision.

Rightly, much of the focus during the pandemic was on supporting our businesses and economy through the worst days. My Department worked quickly and efficiently and as a result of this, provided over £514 million in support.

This secured thousands of jobs and businesses and ensured that when restrictions were lifted, we still had an economy to rebuild. That early support built a solid bridge to where we are now – which is working on achieving an uninterrupted and sustainable reopening of our economy.

I want to publicly thank business owners, staff and workers for everything they did and the sacrifices they made during the darkest days when COVID19 was at its height. We witnessed the very best of our business community: pivoting to produce PPW; providing local deliveries to the most vulnerable in our communities and ploughing on through the most challenging of conditions.”

He added: ‘‘Whilst we still need to be cautious, I am confident about the future. The 10X Economic vision for Northern Ireland is an ambitious vision, which focuses on innovation, ensuring the benefits of economic growth benefit all our people and which delivers positive outcomes for the economy, society and the environment.

‘‘I look forward to working with Lisburn Chamber of Commerce to ensure we meet my aim for Northern Ireland to become one of the world’s leading small economies.”

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP also congratulated the Chamber on reaching a milestone in its history and he referred to issues impacting the business community in the 1960s and 70s and the impact of the troubles affecting Lisburn whilst the Chamber of Commerce provided a voice for the business community it continues to have today.

The Mayor, Alderman Stephen Martin, passed on congratulations to the Chamber from Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and spoke of the close working relationship developing between the Chamber and the Economic Development department.

Finally the President thanked everyone for attending the event, the organising committee, Evan Morton, Katrina Collins and Carla Bowyer and to Terry Cross and his team at Hinch Distillery as well asthe other sponsors, Oasis Travel and finally, WPA Healthcare.

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