THE president of the North East’s biggest business lobby group is to retire from his day job after more than 30 years in the water industry.
John Mowbray, who has become one of the best known and most popular businessmen in the region, has said he is to retire next summer from his job as director of corporate affairs at Northumbrian Water.
The 54-year-old, who is currently fighting to win help for the region’s private sector as president of the North East Chamber of Commerce, said he wanted to make more time for himself and his family.
But he will clearly not be retiring from public life as he intends to continue leading the chamber and on the boards of a long list of organisations across the region and in his native Sunderland as well as with numerous good causes.
“I just wanted to reclaim a bit of time for myself and I will miss this company and the people here. I have absolutely loved working here and I certainly won’t be leaving the business community,” he said.
After leaving school at 18 to join the Sunderland and South Shields Water Company he rose up the industry to become the public face of the region’s biggest utility more than a decade ago.
He is best known for linking the Durham-based firm with other organisations, including sports clubs like Newcastle Eagles and helping to make improvements at Castle View Enterprise Academy in Sunderland.
But he won special praise for leading fundraising work for the WaterAid charity, which over the last 15 years has helped it raise more than £5m for communities in developing countries without access to clean water.
“The water industry in this country is probably the best in the world, but we take it for granted and we have to think of those who don’t everything we have. I went to Malawi and when you see the conditions and how joyful they are still, you just have to help them,” he said.
His other commitments include chairman of Durham City Vision, chairman of the Percy Hedley Foundation Appeal Committee, vice chairman of Newcastle Gateshead Initiative, chairman of the Tyne & Wear Common Purpose Advisory Group and a director of business support group Tedco.
He remains committed to working in the business community. He said: “People work together in the North East. It’s one of our great strengths and moving forward as we face challenges we have to stick together and face it together.”
Heidi Mottram, Northumbrian Water’s chief executive officer, said: “John will be a big miss to all of us at Northumbrian Water. He will have worked in the water industry for nearly thirty years in the variety of companies that make up Northumbrian Water as it is today and in a number of different roles.
“He has been, and still is, involved in so many things and John’s abiding passion has always been to help others whether they are colleagues, customers or others in the community.
“John has achieved that on so many fronts and in doing so, helped to make Northumbrian Water the respected company that it is. I know that we need to keep up the good work and particularly the partnerships that John has helped create. John will help me with this and I will consider the replacement in his role in the spring.”