Long-standing Marches LEP board member Sonia Roberts has been named as the new deputy chair of the partnership, which is tasked with growing the regional economy in Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin.
Mrs Roberts has served as the community and voluntary sector champion on the Local Enterprise
Partnership Board since 2015 and also chairs the LEP’s Performance, Risk and Monitoring Committee.
She succeeds Telford Business Board chair Paul Hinkins, who stepped down from his roles as the LEP deputy chair and chair of the Marches Growth Hub after six years last month.
Mandy Thorn, Marches LEP chair, congratulated Mrs Roberts on her appointment and paid tribute to Mr Hinkins for his service. He remains a LEP Board member as the chair of Telford Business Board.
She said: “Sonia has a wealth of experience across a diverse range of business sectors and has carved out a particular specialism in the voluntary sector where she focuses on the needs of those with complex health and learning needs to access training and employment.
“As we continue to focus on the economic recovery and on-going growth of the Marches region, this insight into important aspects of skills, training and employment will prove invaluable and I am looking forward to working even more closely with Sonia.
“I am fortunate to have worked closely with Paul for a number of years and his contribution as the deputy chair of the Marches LEP can’t be underestimated. In particular, his vision in steering the Marches Growth Hub to be recognised as one of the best performing in the country is something for which the LEP and our business community will be long-indebted. For me personally, his time as acting chair between July and November of last year and his input and support as I assumed the role of chair was invaluable.”
Mrs Roberts added: “It is an honour to have the deputy chair baton passed on from Paul. His impact on the board and the LEP’s role in the region has been significant and I am very much looking forward to continuing to work closely with him and the rest of the LEP Board.
“I’m focused now on how the LEP can continue to positively influence the economic growth and recovery of the Marches region, in particular as we emerge from the impact of Covid-19 and how this has affected those with long-term challenges that impact their access to employment.”
Having spent 20 years of her career in the fashion industry in a number of roles, Mrs Roberts made the decision to move into the voluntary sector. She has since spent the last 12 years as Charity Manager at Landau, an organisation focused on providing those with learning/physical disabilities, mental health or long-term health issues, the long-term unemployed and young peoplewith the skills and support they need to find sustainable employment.
During her time in this role she has developed the charity from a £200k to £3.4m turnover business and increased its geographical reach across the region.
She is also a non-executive director for Bon Accord Care.