Farnham’s chamber of commerce has relaunched with new leaders and a fresh set of aims.

And more than 70 businesses were represented at the relaunch meeting at The Bush Hotel to hear the organisation’s new objectives.

President Tracey Corney admitted the chamber, which was set up in the 1920s, had lost its way since the pandemic and initial lockdowns brought businesses to a shuddering halt.

The HR executive said: “There was a big dip during and after Covid but the news now is that the chamber is back, with a new committee and a new focus.

“But we need to make sure we work as a partnership with businesses and are meeting their needs.

“We want to work with councils and any organisation that will bring benefits to Farnham’s businesses.

“Taking on the role of president is a little like standing in the school yard and someone asks for volunteers to step forward, and everyone else takes a step back and I’m the only person who didn’t...

“Farnham is an amazing town with some amazing businesses and we really want this to work.

“We want to represent the interests of members and speak with one collective voice.”

The new chamber committee includes Mark Robson of New Dawn pubs – its portfolio includes The Castle Inn – Stuart McCulloch of The Alternative Board, accountant Hayley Pope and property developer Nick Kent.

Mr Robson said: “Farnham is an energetic town and a great place to live and to bring up kids.

“We want to help promote and create a strong and active business community.

“We want to bring members together and develop an active and thriving business community, and together we can offer a more powerful single business voice.

“We want to add business-focused events to the town’s diary and allow our community to flourish and grow.

Mr Kent added: “Farnham is home to more than 600 businesses and has always punched well above its weight. Not only is it a very pretty place but it has some businesses that have been here for a very long time. About 52 per cent of the traders are retailers and we have a diverse business community.”

The meeting heard the town centre remains vibrant and busy, with 58,900 shoppers being recorded in the first week of December.

“We have a lot to offer, and with a good chamber of commerce behind us we can offer even more,” Mr Kent added.

The new-look chamber now wants businesses to back up their initial interest by becoming members.

Membership is £90 a year – and the first members-only event has already been arranged.

It will be at The Castle Inn on Tuesday, February 28 when Farnham’s moves to become a Business Improvement District will be discussed.

BIDs are funded and controlled directly by the businesses that pay for them. There are already more than 300 successful BIDs in the UK, which over the next five years will generate more than £100 million.

It is expected the Farnham BID would raise between £100,000 and £300,000 every year to be spent on initiatives not already funded by local authorities.

For more details see https://farnhambid.co.uk/faqs/

Some of the BID team will be at the meeting on February 28, which starts at 6pm.

It is open to chamber members, and each member will be permitted to take along one guest.

The chamber membership year runs from February 1 each year and business leaders and decision makers with an enterprise – whether it be a business, partnership, charity or organisation – based in Farnham or the surrounding villages are invited to join.

To join the chamber, log on to the website https://www.farnhamchamber.org.uk/join-us

The committee members also told the meeting they would be delighted to hear from other traders keen to join them in the leadership group.

Anyone interested can find out more information by emailing [email protected]