02 Jul 1: Membership
“The way to achieve your own success is to be willing to help somebody else get it first.” – Iyanla Vanzant
In all towns, there are many different organisations and groups; sporting, leisure, history, music and fundraising. They cater for the individual and for teams ranging in ages from the very young to the old. Alongside these, there are other groups who cater for the needs of the businesses and the community; Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Gillingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry has been in existence for 90 years. Formed in July 1930 when a group of businessmen began meeting to help each other and to benefit the town. Although Gillingham was a different place in those days the remit of the Chamber has changed little.
Membership was dictated by owning a business and most in those days were old family businesses handed down through the children as it grew in prosperity. The chamber collected an annual payment from all the High Street businesses through a subsidiary company Gillingham Chamber of Trade Plate Glass Association which then paid for broken windows when they occurred, thus keeping insurance premiums down. The Chamber also bought the lighting poles to illuminate the station area and High Street.
It is the council or individuals that take over responsibility for many of the initiatives started by the Chamber but they continue to be involved in the Town. The recent Race Night was such a success that there is a small pot of money available to give back to the town. GCCI are accepting applications for any amount up to £1200. The funds can be shared between different projects but the main criterium is that it benefits the town.
Membership of an organisation opens opportunities for a business. Giving it authority and recognition beyond just its location. It affords potential to meet other businesses, to forge contacts that develop and widen the net of potential clients, it offers guidance and help to fledgeling businesses. With this in mind, GCCI host their regular Happy Hour meetings to encourage members to exchange views and knowledge and to meet up with their fellow members.
On a wider level, GCCI are affiliate members of the larger organisation of Dorset Chamber who in turn are affiliated to the National Chamber. Advice and networking are readily available to the members, opening up wider channels of support for the town.
As we passed April, May and June GCCI were unable to host their AGM. It was decided to ask Sharon Cullingford to stay another year as chair and cancel the AGM for his year. The Committee say a huge thank you to Sharon for her steerage of the last two years as Chair. Her unstinting support and dedication to Gillingham High Street has been phenomenal, walking up and down encouraging new shops and members, offering advice and help where needed. Coming from a local family she is the third generation of the Hussey Family to hold a position on the chamber committee. A link with the history of the chamber and the town that are still helping the community, still looking after the businesses in their care and remain as strong today as they ever were.