09 Feb 2024

Tributes paid following deaths of three loyal Chamber figures – John Robinson, John Day and Max Boden

Tributes have been paid to three long-standing and highly regarded figures who between them dedicated years of service to the East Midlands Chamber.

Chamber board member John Robinson, former president and chairman of the board of Leicestershire Chamber John Day, and former Leicestershire Chamber head of policy Max Boden all passed away in recent weeks.

Each had been described as key players in the operations of the current and previous incarnations of the Chamber – and in contributing to the success of the region’s economy.

John Robinson died peacefully at home on 17 January, aged 82, after a short illness. He had served as a non-executive director of the Chamber since 2018.

He had a background in international trade, partly gained from senior roles within NATO and the RAF, and a career flying military and civil aircraft. He went on to share his years of experience teaching at local colleges and universities.

He was also the education secretary of the East Midlands branch of the Institute of Export and International Trade and was made a fellow of that organisation in 2011.

He regularly worked with the UK government and also provided training within the Egyptian government.

John Day, who was 74, was a marketing man through-and-through and ran John Day Marketing Associates, in south Leicestershire.

He served as President of Leicestershire Chamber from 2001-2003, and was chairman a year or two before its merger with Derbyshire & Nottinghamshire Chamber in 2013.

He was previously marketing director at Alliance and Leicester, prior to it becoming Santander, and served on the board of the Leicestershire Chamber for around a decade.

Some of the other organisations he was involved in included The King Richard III Visitor Centre in Leicester, Home-Start South Leicestershire, the Leicestershire Education Business Company and the city’s Samworth Academy.

Max Boden was policy manager of the Leicestershire Chamber for almost 24 years, then held a similar position at the East Midlands chamber for two years until around a decade ago.

Kevin Harris, who chairs the East Midlands Chamber board, worked closely with John Day and John Robinson – and said it was the former who first encouraged him to become a board member.

He said: “I have a lot to thank him for. He was a go-to person, and passionate about the Leicestershire Chamber. He was also incredibly affable.

“Because of the business he was in he was very good at creating relationships and a really positive, upbeat person to be around.”

He said John Robinson was incredibly knowledgeable about anything related to trade and export.

He said: “He was always very presentable and very professional – you would never see him without a shirt and tie and suit on –  and he was incredibly supportive of the Chamber, and rarely missed any of its events.

“He was an important player in the organisation and contributed a heck of a lot to everything he was involved in.

“It’s a very sad loss, and his death has been a big shock to all of us.”

Martin Traynor, who was chief executive of the Leicestershire Chamber for 14 years, said he thoroughly enjoyed his time working with Max Boden, who he said had a fine eye for detail and was a great source of information, particularly when it came to government legislation.

He said: “He played a significant role in helping me deliver the objectives of the Chamber. He was diligent and a very clever, intelligent man.”

Mr Traynor also enjoyed working with John Day who he described as an “excellent boss and a particularly good mentor, who helped me develop into the role of a chief executive”.

He said: “He made a significant contribution to the business environment here in Leicestershire and steered the Chamber through some challenging times.

“He helped us move some significant economic developments forward in the city and county, helping guide the county’s local enterprise partnership, and joined me on the board of the Richard III Visitor Centre.

“He was the sort of person who got things done, and his wisdom and knowledge was incredible.”

East Midlands Chamber president Stuart Dawkins worked with John Day at Alliance and Leicester, where he headed up the marketing team, and they became good friends.

He said Mr Day was responsible for the building society’s Sproggit and Sylvestor ads in the early 90s – for years voted some of the country’s favourite adverts – which featured a young Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

He said: “He was an all-round nice guy who enjoyed his work making the Leicestershire business scene a better place.”