John signs off as chairman of ONE Haverhill Partnership

John Mayhew at Volunteer Garden Party

This month’s newspaper column represents my last as chair of ONE Haverhill Partnership.

After five years leading the organisation, I am stepping down and being replaced by Andy Hunter, headteacher at Samuel Ward Academy.

Looking back to 2016, I remember being approached by my predecessor, Sarah Howard asking if I would like to put my name forward to replace her. I recall her telling me it would just be a case of chairing four board meetings a year – I now realise that was a little tongue-in-cheek!

But joking aside, I look back on my time as chair with great fondness. With ONE Haverhill Partnership representing everything from education to police, health to the voluntary sector, you need a very strong support network.

Every month, our small Ops Group meet to discuss the key priorities and I would like to thank each member of that group for their commitment and expertise. I’m pleased to say that David Ruddy and Alex Till will be staying as vice-chairs to offer Andy the same level of support that I enjoyed.

Then there is the wider board, both past and present members, who have always shown me great support.

There are many achievements that I am proud of over the last five years. We helped pilot the LifeLink social prescribing project, which has now been rolled out across West Suffolk, and we launched Heart of Haverhill to offer businesses – and the town centre – more support. This has never been more needed.

We grew links with the then-High Sheriff of Suffolk, George Vestey, which culminated in a wonderful volunteer garden party to celebrate our unsung heroes and we worked closely with police to address issues around Houses of Multiple Occupancy (HMOs).

I have always liked the fact the organisation was non-political and that we had a fair amount of freedom to decide on our priorities and areas of work.

But maybe our biggest achievement is the fact that we are able to get the right people round the table.

This doesn’t mean we agree on everything, that would never happen. But at least we had a voice and we are all working together for the people who live, work and visit Haverhill.

I am delighted to say that I will be continuing on the board, as the representative for Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, and I look forward to seeing it go from strength-to-strength.

Given my background, I have always tried to get businesses involved in our work as much as possible. I’m sure that involvement will carry on. I am now also looking forward to Andy coming on board and weaving education into our many different strands of work. At such a crucial time, that prospect is very exciting.