About the Chamber

Promoting Local Business for 120 Years!

Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce

Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce is the one of the largest business organisations in the Harrogate area, representing businesses in all sectors and of all sizes. From one-man start-up businesses to large, established companies, Harrogate District Chamber offers networking, relevant information and representation to benefit all its members and the wider business community.

Our organisation exists to support businesses and help them to grow, further increasing employment opportunities across the Harrogate District. Each of our monthly meetings begins with open networking and has opportunities for businesses to promote their offers and events to fellow members.

Established in 1896, Harrogate Chamber has a long history of supporting local businesses and lobbying on their behalf. From persuading government ministers to support improvements to local rail connections, to welcoming regional business and tourism leaders as speakers at our meetings, we have a track record of success.

Map of area covered by Chamber Map of area covered by Chamber

The Harrogate District

In 2016, our organisation changed from Harrogate Chamber of Trade and Commerce to become Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce.

This development reflects the changing nature of business in the Harrogate district, as local enterprise partnerships, devolution and other political changes are introduced.

Businesses are strongest when they are united in a common purpose. We will continue to work closely with all the business organisations in the Harrogate district and hope that our joint efforts can be the greatest force for positive development that our area has ever known.


Read our constitution.

Click here to view details as pdf

Alison Hartwell (MD)
of Harrogate Holidays

"The beauty of joining Harrogate Chamber for me as a small business owner was the ability to tap into the wealth of knowledge of others and to share experiences related to Harrogate and district. Networking can either be informal before meetings or structured at the Networking Safaris. Everyone was initially so friendly that I just wanted to get involved."

The Management Team

The Volunteers that Steer the Chamber

Harrogate District Chamber is run by a Management Group – a team of members who have volunteered to help steer the chamber. They are all business owners and managers and come from a wide range of business sectors.

If you ever have a query about the chamber while you are at a meeting, you can speak to any of the Management Group members about it. They are often close to the welcome desk – or just ask someone on the welcome desk to point you in the right direction.

Executive Officers

Steve Scarre - President (2018-20)

CSS Mediation

Steve spent over 30 years in senior management in both public and private sectors before retraining as a mediator. He set up CSS Mediation to help resolve disputes, whether commercial, work-based or between private individuals. Steve is an accredited mediator and a member of the Civil Mediation Council, as well as being a professionally qualified accountant (FCMA, CGMA). He is Chair of Trustees of Horticap and a Director of the Harrogate Christmas Market.

Martin Gerrard - Vice President (2018-20)

Barclays Bank

I joined Barclays in  1973 and have done  many Roles,including Operations and Lending and foreign and Securities and Specialist Roles.I was the first Student Business Officer  for Barclays in 1978.Moved workwise and  living to Yorkshire in 1982 having secured a position as Head of Securities in Skipton.

Chairman of Round table  twice ,having joined in 1979 and have served numerous Charities,including the role of Trustee .

I first came to Harrogate in 1986 to work at Barclays  James Street and then various Roles before starting Barclays Premier  in Harrogate  in 1996. 

I am a Traditional Banker utilising modern processes and passionate about improving the Community that I live and work in,namely Harrogate.I work across all Sectors to achieve the Goals of both my Clients and the Bank .In 2018 I was voted The Harrogate Business  Personality  of the Year.

Sam Oakes - Vice President (2017-19)

Design by GOBO

Sam is GOBO’s Creative Director looking after all things design, from print to web to professional photography. Having spent some time working abroad as a travel photographer and tour guide Sam came back to Harrogate to live, and set up business.

Stephen Root - Vice President (2017-19)

Berwins Solicitors

Stephen lives in Harrogate and has three daughters and one step-daughter all brought up and educated  in the District.  Stephen is a director of Harrogate Solicitors, Berwins, and is a specialist Family Lawyer.  In the little spare time his family and business commitments allow he is a keen ornithologist and outdoors enthusiast.  Stephen is married to Judith, who also works at Berwins.

Sue Kramer - Vice President (2018-20)

Crown Jewellers

Sue Kramer has lived and worked in Harrogate most of her life. In July 2000 she established Crown Jewellers of Harrogate, which focuses on providing quality jewellery, exceptional customer service and value. Previously, Sue enjoyed a lengthy career in the recruitment industry, ultimately managing a large local branch.

Sue is passionate about Harrogate and supporting the independent retail sector that makes it such a special visitor destination

Mike Procter - Past President (2018-20)

The Procter Partnership

I have been a Chamber member since 2011, President last year and on the management group since 2013 and a Vice President in 2015 & 2016. I lead for Chamber on the development of Harrogate Business Improvement District (BID).

A bit of my background - I opened my first opticians practice in Leeds in 1988 and have had 7 practices in North and West Yorkshire, East Lancashire and Manchester. In 1997 I opened in Harrogate at the top of James Street. In 1999 I bought out a competitor trading from where Betty’s now have their shop and in 2007 relocated further down Parliament Street. In 2016 I sold my Harrogate practice to Bayfields Opticians and my other practices have now also been sold. I continue to own some commercial property in Harrogate including some holiday apartments.

John Garbutt - Hon. Treasurer (2017-2019)

DSC Chartered Accountants

John joined DSC Chartered Accountants in 2003 after graduating with an Honours degree in Economics at Durham a year earlier, and then travelling around the world. He qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2006 and following promotion to associate in 2010 became a director of DSC in April 2011. With a diverse range of clients, from medium size manufacturers to small service companies, and a wide range of expertise - John is able to offer the appropriate tax and planning advice on a corporate level and on a personal level too.

A DIY enthusiast, John has recently finished renovating his second property, which his wife has promised is their last! John also loves the mountains and is proud to have conquered Mont Blanc. Now a Father to young Annabelle and George, we’ve been informed that mountaineering is severely off limits… well until his children are big enough to hold an ice axe at least!

If you are interested in finding out more about how John can help you and/or your business please email directly to j.garbutt@dscca.com or phone DSC Chartered Accountants in Harrogate on 01423 560547.

Philip Edmondson - Hon. Legal Adviser (2018-2020)

McCormicks Solicitors

Philip is the Head of Commercial Litigation services at McCormicks. He has received personal recommendations in the independent Legal 500 Guide for both Sports Law and Dispute Resolution and the Chambers UK Guide for Litigation.

Philip has significant experience with matters involving: breach of contract, sports disputes (arbitrations, tribunals and regulatory matters), insolvency (individual and corporate), partnership disputes, professional negligence (claimant and defendant), landlord and tenant, dilapidations claims, HM Land Registry and matters with multi jurisdictional elements.

Philip’s approach will always be tailored to client priorities. It is always proportionate to the matter in hand and involves a cost benefit analysis at the earliest possible stage.  He always advocates all appropriate forms of alternative dispute resolution to seek to resolve disputes as quickly and cost effectively as possible.

Philip acts for a broad range of clients, including: insurers, national and international corporates, entrepreneurs, large family estates, insolvency practitioners (and those facing claims by them), charities, the Premier League and Leeds United FC.

Feel free to contact Philip on 01423 530630

Sandra Doherty - Chief Executive & Secretary (2018-2020)

Alexa House Guest House

Sandra has been the owner of Alexa House Guesthouse on Ripon Road since 2006, has worked as a business manager for over 30 years in several small businesses in both South and West Yorkshire. 

David Simister - PR Officer (2020-2022)

Different PR

Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce has a new communications officer. Chamber member David Simister, from Different PR, has taken over the role from Vicky Carr, who has stood down after a stint of seven years.

For those of you who don’t know David, he is a seasoned journalist, having cut his teeth at the Harrogate Advertiser back in the 1990’s, before joining the Yorkshire Post. From newspapers he moved into the world of PR, working in the Yorkshire Water press office for eight years. In 2006, he and former Ashville College classmate, Richard Chew - another former regional journalist and PR professional – launched Different PR.


Management Group Members

Debra Forsythe-Conroy - Management Group Member (2018-20)

DFC Education Ltd

Debra Forsythe-Conroy is a former college Principal and has worked extensively across education and training with over 40 years’ experience, of which 18 years in senior management in large mixed economy colleges. Debra is also an inspector of education and works on improving quality practices across colleges and training providers.

A published author, Debra has successfully established an educational consultancy business and is working in association with White Rose Colleges which comprise of 8 centres across Yorkshire including Harrogate. The organisation is the largest independent training provider of its type in the UK.

Graham Strugnell - Management Group Member (2017-19)

Struggytax Wealth Management

Born in St Albans a while ago, and moved "up North" 40 years ago! I have worked in the life assurance, pensions and tax saving world since I left school 46 years ago, and was an IFA for over 30 years. Family man, live in Harrogate, love music and cars.

Since retiring from my career job in June 2018, I have written a book trying to help people who are looking for a job, and I am helping IFAs who wish to find a buyer for their practice, or those who are looking to buy retiring IFAs. Arranging business lunches is also keeping me busy.

Graham Wild - Management Group Member (2018-2020)

Wild & Co Chartered Accountants

I have over 20 years experience in the accounting and business advisory profession specialising in advising SME and mid market clients across a wide variety of sectors in the UK, on strategic/business planning, financial forecasting and how to generate stakeholder value.

Joining Wild & Co has helped me achieve a lifelong ambition to grow and develop our family owned accounting, tax and business advisory firm, based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

Martin Mann - Management Group Member (2017-19)

Martin Mann IT

Martin is happy to support businesses on everything from one-off projects to long-term IT management. He particularly specialises in building relationships with businesses, allowing him to understand their needs and priorities and work proactively to suggest and introduce improvements. His friendly, supportive advice has earned him many loyal customers who have relied on his help for many years.

Michael Newby - Management Group Member (2018-20)


Michael Newby is born and bred a Harrogatonian and was Mayor of the District from 2013 to 2014. On standing down from the Council he was appointed as Director of Visit Harrogate, the Destination Management Organisation for the Harrogate District. He is now retired and enjoying his many and varied interests.

Paul Rawlinson - Management Group Member (2018-20)

Baltzersens Ltd

Former Army officer, Paul Rawlinson, is the owner of Baltzersen’s - a Scandinavian inspired cafe. 

He is a strong believer in collaboration between independent businesses to create a unique retail and hospitality offer for Harrogate.

Sally Roberts - Management Group Member (2018-2020)

Fun Training For Results

Selling and Customer Service is what Sally knows best!

Born in Leeds, she studied at Oxford where she began a career in media. This was in the days when newspapers were page set on a press and ISDN lines were the new big thing. A move to London saw her become Sales Training Manager for United Advertising. It was here, in the 1980s, where Sally learned to be different, use fun, music, and whatever else it took to engage and delight delegates.

A move to Harrogate and a successful sales career Sally and her colleagues were asked to attend a sales training course. It was dull, classroom,  long, boring and it simply did not work. 

This inspired Sally to establish Fun Training For Results, specialising in sales, customer service wow and communication training. Sally ’s training is unique, engaging, fun and different. No clock watching, no copious note taking or PowerPoint overload. With Sally, you do things, you have fun, you remember and you use what you have learned. It’s the results that matter! 

When not delivering Fun Training, Sally can be found in her garden, with a coffee in one hand, trowel in the other.

Tara Stagman - Management Group Member (2017-19)

Ake & Humphris Wine & Beer

Moving from a career in banking, Tara joined local independent wine merchants, Ake & Humphris, soon after they opened in Harrogate and Collingham in 2010. With an accountancy background and a love of wine, she has found her perfect job!

As company director, she arranged their 2015 merger with Yorkshire wine wholesaler Spen Valley Wines, and now oversees the business finances. She has been a member of the Harrogate Chamber of Commerce since 2012, providing a wine quiz by way of entertainment for the 2014 Annual Dinner.

Vicky Findlow - Management Group Member (2017-19)

White Rose Beauty

With a background in beauty, hospitality and retail, Vicky is the Business Development and Client Services Manager at White Rose Beauty. She came to Harrogate over 30 years ago and has been developing her business network here ever since. She is passionate about local businesses and loves introducing like-minded people to each other for the good of the community.