Michael Ratcliffe - Chief Executive
If you're looking for the man with the most passion about ensuring that the business community of Cheltenham continues to thrive and grow, look no further. Michael is the owner and manager of M R Ratcliffe Consultants Ltd, insurance brokers specialising in the transport industry, which was established in 1976. Based in Cheltenham with 50 staff, M R Ratcliffe places business and underwrites insurance cover on behalf of several major insurance companies in the UK.
Michael has been involved with the Chamber since 2000, and has played an instrumental part in setting up the Executive Board in 2004, when he became the Chief Executive. Michael says that his one wish for Cheltenham would be that all sectors of local society take a more holistic approach towards their environment.
Jon Leamon – Deputy Chief Executive
When he retired in March 2010, Jon hoped that his life would perhaps become a little more leisurely. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jon has yet to find time to put his feet up as his enthusiasm in working on behalf of the Chamber often takes over. Jon was formerly a General Manager of Eagle Star, and he joined the Chamber in 2003 initially to expand his business contacts, but then began to contribute his own expertise to help other Cheltenham based businesses grow and prosper. He has held a number of roles within the Chamber including President, Membership Executive and now Deputy Chief Executive.
Jon's wish is for Cheltenham to be recognised as the Number 1 destination for everyone visiting the Southwest/Midlands.
Catriona Murray - President
Catriona retired in July 2015, after 40 years as a Civil Servant - specialising in Unemployment and Employment issues throughout her career.
She joined the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce in 2010 to enable her to get out networking with local businesses to make sure they developed the best connections from their Jobcentre team, which proved extremely productive.
Cheltenham is very much home to Catriona, despite her Scottish Royal Air Force Officer father’s career leading to a nomadic existence in her childhood. A true blue Cheltonian mother, whose family can be traced back centuries in the area, supplied a sense of belonging which all the family embraced.
Now she is not working life is busier than ever! Catriona is enjoying her second year as President of the Chamber, which has given her the opportunity to meet and network with so many companies and organisations on a completely different basis from her previous work role. She has also managed to take up some new activities, including upholstery and embroidery masterclasses – plus is dedicated to keeping in contact with her old friends and family and enjoys meeting up with them over coffee, lunch or a good dinner, food and wine will always win the day! She also loves antiques and collects books, especially on her favourite craft subjects; enjoys gardening and hates computers.
Brian Chaplin - Vice President
Brian Chaplin is a former President of the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce and a past Mayor of Cheltenham (2005-2006). He is a Chartered Mechanical Engineer and founded Eurovideo Business Television in 1985, with the primary object of producing professional video films for the industrial and commercial sector.
With a background in most areas of industry and commerce Brian "speaks the customers' language" and understands not only what the customer wants, but also what their customer wants to know. He also has many years involvement in the broadcast television industry and has an unusual mixture of technical ability and creativity, including being a musician.
"I believe Cheltenham has an ambience unlike any other town in the UK. Visitor attractions like the festivals complimented by its architecture, parks and gardens ensure a thriving local economy. I particularly enjoy attending Science and Music festivals with occasional visits to the Playhouse and Everyman theatres. The various social and networking chamber events provide a great opportunity for me to interact with others with a shared outlook on life."
Dan Harris - Vice President, Marketing Adviser, Newsletter Editor
Dan manages two companies: the sales and marketing company, HymnSheet Ltd., and First Move Europe, which helps growth companies establish and develop their operations in the UK and Europe. He has worked in senior marketing positions in the UK, Europe and USA with Apple Computer, McAfee Security, Mitel, BroadVision, Virgin.net and Europe Online. Dan enjoys working with Chamber members to help grow and promote their businesses throughout the UK and internationally, and has served on the Gloucestershire Enterprise Growth Hub on behalf of the Chamber. He has been on the Executive Committee since 2010 serving as Membership Secretary and Head of Marketing until 2013, and sees great things ahead for both the Chamber and its members. He is also the Editor of Cheltenham Chamber News, a publication which is distributed widely across the business community in Gloucestershire.
“One of my favourite places in Cheltenham, if not the world, is atop Cleeve Hill Golf Course. I played a lot of golf while in California, but the view that sweeps down from the fourth is hard to beat.
If I had one wish I’d like Cheltenham to be one of the centres of innovation in the UK. And if I had another wish, I’d like to see Cheltenham FC have another go in Division One.”
Paul Englebrecht - Vice President
Paul is a solicitor at Hughes Paddison. He has represented Matabeleland First Class Cricket and lists highlights including playing among Brett Lee, Andy Flower, Heath Streak and Henry Olonga. Paul was born in Bulawayo Rhodesia/Zimbabwe (home to Shaka Zulu!). He began Articles in 1997 and qualified as legal practitioner, notary public and conveyancer, in 2001. He attained B.Iuris and LLB Law Degrees through University of South Africa through distance learning and worked with the Commercial Farmers Union, numerous farmers and Members of Parliament in defending against Mugabe's "land grab" in Zimbabwe. He moved to England in 2001 and was admitted as a solicitor in 2003 and notary public in 2007. In 2009 Paul was appointed as Vice President for the Chamber.
As if he didn’t already have enough to keep him occupied, Paul enrolled for an MBA with University of Gloucestershire in 2010. He enjoys all sport, as well as reading, travelling and the joys of having a young family.
Anna Freeman - Vice President and Membership Executive
Anna founded her business, Anna’s Parties – Singles Events and Anna Freeman One-to-One Introductions in 1997. Being single herself, she is well-placed in understanding her clientele and their hopes of finding a life–partner. She is a qualified counsellor and a member of the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy. This training supports her work and gives her a special insight into helping her clients. She organises parties and speed-dating events, along with personal one-to-one introductions, and as a result she is adept at bringing people together.
Anna was born in Cheltenham and brought up in London. To quote her “I have been travelling up and down the A40 all my life visiting grandparents as a child/young adult and now visiting relatives in the south-east”. She has worked in London, Cheltenham and the Middle-East – Muscat, Oman. Now settled in Cheltenham with her daughter, she is here to stay for the foreseeable future. She enjoys working for the Chamber as Membership–Executive which gives her the opportunity to use her considerable networking skills to raise membership numbers; once more, to quote her “They are all such pleasant people to spend time with!”.
Rob Duncan - Planning Executive
Rob’s experience spans over 30 years of working in the commercial property market in Gloucestershire and the West Midlands, and for Government Departments across the Country. He has had an interest in Cheltenham’s success ever since he moved here in the early 1970s, and today acts as a consultant for a number of companies in the town. A keen sportsman, he played hockey and cricket for the town and is a life Vice President of Cheltenham Cricket Club. His sporting activities these days revolve around golf and supporting Gloucester Rugby club.
Roger Marchant - Transport Executive
Roger is Managing Director of Marchant’s Coaches Limited, which has been an active Chamber member since 1994. He is a past Chamber President and has represented the Chamber on transport, planning, retail and tourism committees. Roger currently manages the Chamber’s transport affairs, lobbying Borough and County Councils.
On leaving school Roger joined the family business, starting a five-year apprenticeship as a Commercial Motor Mechanic. After spending several years coach driving throughout Great Britain and Europe, Roger took over the running of the workshops and subsequently succeeded his father to become Managing Director.
Roger is Cheltenham born and he is married with 2 sons and 4 grandchildren. To deal with the stresses of life he enjoys teaching and training karate at the Cheltenham YMCA, with 2012 marking his fortieth year in the sport – so don’t mess with Roger!
Claire Thayers - Tourism Executive
Claire Thayers - Tourism Executive
Passionate about Cheltenham, Claire loves working with the Chamber, and continues to raise awareness about the need to collaborate and work together. If we can shine a light on the town, and encourage people to shop here, eat here and stay here, the local economy improves, which is good for everyone in the community!
Her other passion is social responsibility and she works closely with Michael Ratcliffe via the Association of Gloucestershire Chambers to support not only Cheltenham but other towns across Gloucestershire
Having lived and worked in Cornwall for 17 years, and working as a freelance consultant with Visit Cornwall and Cornwall Chamber she has learnt a lot and is desperate to share…
When she is not working, she has a hectic social life, writes for Cotswold Style magazine and still finds time to entertain! Nothing better than cooking and share a meal and a bottle (or two) of fizz
Jacky Fletcher - Events Executive
Jacky is one of Cheltenham’s busiest residents. As well as organising all the Events for the Chamber, she is also a Cheltenham Borough Councillor! She also found time to be Mayor of Cheltenham in 2006. Jacky initially became involved with the Chamber in 2002 as its Secretary.
She says that her wish for Cheltenham would be “that the town I love be clean of rubbish, the pavements were flat and we were open for business to all including tourists from all over Great Britain and the world.”
Jane Dyer – Social Media and PR Executive
Jane is an experienced journalist, fundraiser and marketer. She is currently the Fundraising and Marketing Manager for the charity Gloucestershire Young Carers. She also writes the weekly column ‘Final Word’ in GL Magazine, GlosMedia’s weekend supplement. Jane describes herself as having ‘an enquiring mind’ and is keen to get to know members so she can represent them in social media and PR about The Chamber and business in Cheltenham.
Outside of work Jane still writes and loves reading. She is married to Colin Dyer, CEO of Cheltenham charity WellChild so charity work is most definitely ‘in the family’. She also has two children.
Sarah Nicholls - Marketing Planning and Operations Executive
In her role as Marketing Executive for the Chamber, Sarah's focus is to support the delivery of member-focused services that add value. With experience in strategy, marketing and communications, Sarah facilitates the creation of our plans and leads our marketing co-ordination group.
Sarah has held a number of senior roles in the financial services industry, acquiring valuable experience of leading teams and delivering profitable growth. In addition to her consultancy and training work with Strategy at Work, she is a member of the Executive team of Qualitas Insurance Brokers. Sarah has an MBA, an MSc in human resource management, is an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute, a Chartered Insurance Practitioner and is a qualified practitioner of the Myers Briggs (MBTI) psychometric tool.
Sarah lives in Cheltenham with her family. In her spare time she enjoys supporting Charlton Kings Cub Scouts, St Mary's Church Charlton Kings and Christian Aid.
Nigel Knowlman- Seminars Executive & Marketing
Nigel initially studied engineering and worked in the motor industry around the world. When marketing, sales and project management became a significant part of his role he decided to study marketing, strategy and small business at the Manchester Business School. He helped Maynards launch their wine gums in the USA and various small and medium-sized businesses grow their sales.
His first full-time marketing role was with Spirax Sarco in Cheltenham where he ultimately led the UK marketing team and was responsible for everything from market research and mystery shopping to advertising, PR and websites. He spent three years in South Korea understanding how teamwork and a clear vision can transform a business.
After working as a sales and marketing manager for Epsilon he spent some time in key account management in the environmental and special effects industry. He's also worked as a practice manager for the NHS and freelanced for the BBC.
He lives in Cheltenham with his wife, and has three grown-up children, who live in Canada, Chile and the capital.
He is a registered and approved Growth Coach for GrowthAccelerator providing expert, tailored advice to help ambitious businesses achieve rapid, sustainable growth. Find out more at www.growthaccelerator.com
Simon Dye- Ecommerce Executive
Simon is a Cheltenham born and bred award winning ecommerce expert who with over 16 years of online marketing expertise is helping organisations large and small with all the aspects of website marketing from website design to search engine marketing to pay per click to email marketing to social media to ecommerce online selling.
He is a Chartered Marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing by qualification with an all round business education through an MBA.
He is a Information and Communication Technology GL Ambassador for Gloucestershire, Member of the United Kingdom Web Design Association, Technology Ambassador of the Chartered Institute of Marketing's South West Regional Board, Winner of Business Link Gloucestershire's "Lifetime e-Business Award" in 2004, Past Honorary Chairman of the Chartered Institute of Marketing's Gloucestershire Branch and created and heads the first retail site to be created a Millennium Product by the Design Council and the Department of Trade and Industry in 1999.
Mark Minchella - Honorary Treasurer
Mark Minchella is the Treasurer for the Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce, dealing with the day to day finances and annual accounts and budgets.
Mark is currently an Audit and Advisory Partner within Davies Mayers Barnett LLP, a firm of Chartered Accountants based in Cheltenham. He takes a lead role in business development of the firm. He leads and co-ordinates the firm’s link to the banking and finance community and is the lead partner on their due diligence and corporate finance assignments.
As an avid supporter of Cheltenham and Gloucestershire businesses, Mark works with a large network of local professionals and businesses which he encourages to work together so as to retain as many services, fees and revenues as possible within the local community.
Steven Murray - Honorary Solicitor
Steven has an innate skill for resolving contentious issues as a commercial litigator at Harrison Clark Rickerbys. He is astutely aware of the demands and pressures facing business and how a dispute can distract from focusing on making a profit. Therefore, whenever he advises businesses, from multinational corporations to innovative start-ups, he balances the risks of litigation with the commercial or personal demands, to achieve a satisfactory solution in a cost efficient manner.
Steven is experienced in a wide range of contentious issues including: product liability, breaches of restrictive covenants, professional negligence, and contractual disputes. However, his specialism is in Intellectual Property issues such as copyright and trade mark infringements and domain name disputes.
Outside of work Steven's focus is his family. He also enjoys sampling the offerings of the wonderful restaurants and ale houses in and around Cheltenham. When time permits, he skittles in the local league and practices Kendo.