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Britain's Energy Coast Business Cluster AGM, April 2013

Britain's Energy Coast Business Cluster (BECBC) held its AGM at Energus in Lillyhall on Wednesday 3 April, attended by more than 150 people representing a broad cross section of the organisation's membership of almost 200 companies.

The business of the AGM was covered first, including a review of the past year from BECBC Chairman, Sean Balmer, and a summary of the organisation's financial position from Alison Johnston, Assistant Treasurer.

"It's been a good year all in all," said Sean Balmer, "and there is a lot happening nationally and internationally that could create opportunities for BECBC member businesses in all aspects of the energy supply chain. The industry will be working with a new Minister of State for Energy, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, and he will have a foot in both the Energy and Climate Change and Business departments, giving us the sort of balance that the energy economy needs."

"We are attracting several new members to BECBC every month," said Phil Jardine, Business Development Director for BECBC, "and we should be able to celebrate our 200th member milestone later this year. Those businesses reflect the full extent and variety of the energy supply chain in West Cumbria, from major organisations to the smallest micro-business and sole trader."

Sean agreed: "SMEs made up about 50% of those at the AGM and we had a lot of recent new members in the auditorium too. With this growth and contested elections to come in May for three places on our Board of Directors, the Cluster is in a healthy state to be the voice of business on Britain's Energy Coast in the year ahead."

Steven Szostak of Britain's Energy Coast and James Rudd of member company and lunch sponsor, NSG Environmental, gave brief presentations to close the first session and both gave particular emphasis to the realities of partnership working. "Cumbrian businesses don't tend to talk about partnership much," said Steven, "but they just get on with it, demonstrating their commitment to the success and sustainability of this area. Working with BECBC makes a lot of sense for my organisation as it is businesses – Cluster members – that will employ, invest, innovate and buy to create the prosperity that we all want to see."

After a brief networking coffee break, the major attraction of this year's AGM, Sir Chris Bonington, gave an inspiring presentation on the theme of leadership, based on his expedition and Everest experiences. Sir Chris' talk was sponsored by the Centre for Leadership Performance at Lillyhall and he highlighted a number of lessons in leadership – how and when to delegate and take a back seat, the value of unselfish team members, choosing the right people for the right jobs, learning from mistakes and the special courage needed to turn back when the risks were too high.

"I was part of a Norwegian expedition to Everest in 1985 acting, in effect, as the logistics and planning expert to the leader, Arne Naess." said Sir Chris, "He made a point of involving and recognising the vital contribution of the Sherpas to the success of the expedition from the outset, making sure that every member of the expedition was seen and saw himself very much as part of the team. And Arne put himself into the third ascent team, not the first – he was ambitious for the expedition first and himself second."

Sir Chris concluded with a question and answer session that covered everything from motivation for the descent and the challenge of dealing with selfishness to his own views on the mystery of Mallory and Irving. In what was described as a "real wow of a presentation", Sir Chris concluded by challenging local business people to find their own Everests, something that could be real focus for passion.

The next BECBC members meeting will be held at Energus on Wednesday 8 May and will include the election of three Board Directors. Further information on membership of BECBC and details of member companies, specialist sector groups and other activities can be found online at

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