Dr Peter Dewhurst, director of strategic projects at the University of Derby, has been appointed the new chair of Business Peak District (BPD).
Board members agreed to invite Dr Dewhurst to take the position at the annual general meeting on 20 April following the announcement that Robin Eyre was stepping down as chair.
Robin had led BPD, a membership organisation that represents businesses in and around the Peak District, since July 2018. Among his many achievements have been a series of 23 well-attended BPD member webinars held between April 2020 and May 2021.
These were introduced partly as a response to the sense of isolation that many Peak District business owners were feeling at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and they proved to be a vital tool in disseminating business support information during a period of significant business challenge.
More recently, Robin led negotiations with East Midlands Chamber, the accountable body for BPD, to appoint Kate Kearns as a BPD support officer. Kate has had an early impact, taking the lead in organising the Business Peak District 2023 Conference and Expo, which took place at the Crescent Hotel in Buxton on 30 March.
Dr Dewhurst said: “I would like to thank Robin for his outstanding leadership over the last five years, during which BPD membership has grown to 728 people, with a newsletter subscription list of 852.
“My aim will be to build on the foundations laid by Robin and, in collaboration with key partners, to support both existing and future Peak District-based businesses to achieve their full potential, while helping to ensure a low-carbon and sustainable future for the economy of the Peak District.
“I also believe the current period is a time when there is a need for BPD to become a more visible champion and voice of businesses within the Peak District.”
Dr Dewhurst began his working life as co-founder of an import, wholesale and retail business with outlets in Manchester and London.
He subsequently moved into the higher education sector, taking on senior management roles first at the University of Wolverhampton and then at the University of Derby’s Buxton Campus.
As well as his role as director of strategic projects, he serves as a non-executive director on the board of East Midlands Chamber and as chair of the Peak District Partnership.
At the AGM, Tracy Duggan, founder and director of High Peak-based skillslocal, was appointed as vice-chair, with her committing to support and champion the Peak District’s business community.
The next BPD networking event will take place at Thornbridge Hall, in Ashford-in-the-Water, on Wednesday 28 June between 5pm and 9pm. Existing and potential new BPD members can book their place here.