One of the country’s oldest business organisations will kick off its bicentenary celebrations next week with a special cake baked by one of its high profile members.
The North East Chamber of Commerce, which has grown out of an organisation founded in January 1815, will mark its 200th anniversary on Monday with a party featuring a three-foot cake made by Greggs.
Later in the day there will be a “state of chamber” debate at the Sage Gateshead before a re-creation of the Chamber’s first meeting in Newcastle’s Guildhall.
The chamber has received a message of goodwill for its bicentenary from the Queen, and has plans for a range of celebrations in its 200th anniversary year.
Chamber chief executive James Ramsbotham said: “We are starting 2015 with a real bang – an enormous party that not only marks this historic milestone in the chamber’s history, but also signals the beginning of a 12-month celebration of North East business.
“It is vital for us that we share this celebration with members, employees and the region as a whole. We want to showcase the things our region does well, champion our great innovators and, most importantly, swell our ranks to ensure our region’s voice is heard loud and clear beyond our borders.”
The state of the chamber debate, which will be chaired by Northumbria University pro-vice-chancellor Lucy Winskell, will see the organisation’s original meeting minutes reviewed and debated, as well the future course of NECC activity.
This will be followed by a ceremonial council meeting in the Guildhall and from 4pm the #NECC200 logo will be projected onto the Tyne Bridge while the Millennium Bridge is simultaneously lit up in NECC blue. The logo will also be projected onto the Thistle Hotel in Middlesbrough.
Mr Ramsbotham added: “The foundations of what would become the modern North East Chamber of Commerce may have been created 200 years ago, but the principle of business being stronger collectively than acting as individuals are as relevant today as they were then.
“We have spoken about providing a united North East voice for years, but throughout #NECC200 I will be urging more businesses to sign up as members.
“We are the only regional business membership organisation that works solely for the benefit of the region and becoming a member makes us stronger. The stronger we are the louder our voice, the louder our voice the more we are heard and the more we are heard the greater the opportunity to campaign, influence and change things for the better.
“The North East contributes over £41.6bn to the UK economy. Our region’s economic and physical landscape continues to change and NECC is, and will always be, evolving with it, but our sole purpose remains the same - we will always make the prosperity of the North East our number one priority.”