Open North Foundation Photoshoot

Front row: Gill Courtney, Claire Preston. Back row: Mark Stephenson, Colin Hewitt, Paul Shields, Richard Swart

Open North Foundation has announced its first fundraising webinar on Thursday 24 September 2020 at 10am to 12noon.

Hosted by UMi, the discussion “COVID & Brexit: What now for the UK economy, the North East in particular?” will be facilitated by Open North Foundation Ambassador, Caroline Theobald CBE.


10am – 10.30am – Welcome and introduction

  • Nicki Clark, UMi Chief Executive & Open North Foundation Ambassador
  • Richard Swart, Open North Foundation Chair

10.30am – 12noon – Keynote and Q&A

  • David Smith, Sunday Times Economics Editor
  • Will Hobbs, Barclays Wealth UK Chief Investment Officer
  • James Ramsbotham CBE, North East England Chamber of Commerce and Open North Foundation Ambassador

The newly launched, not-for-profit company, Open North Foundation, is calling upon businesses and individuals throughout the region to pledge financial support as part of a private sector-led initiative to rebuild the regional economy.

Businesses receiving financial support will be considered to deliver long-term positive economic impact and create high-quality jobs. In most cases, grants will range from £1,000 to £5,000 but this will be reviewed in due course, subject to funding.

While the immediate aim is to provide financial support, there is also a longer-term goal to provide financial assistance, technical support, business advice and consultancy to enterprises and individuals adversely affected by the pandemic.

Open North Foundation Chair, Richard Swart, said: “We are delighted to have such distinguished and knowledgeable speakers to headline what we believe will be a fascinating discussion. We live in unparalleled times and it is impossible to imagine just a short time ago that the business sector would be embroiled in not one but two of the most challenging scenarios we have ever faced – COVID and Brexit.

“We are bringing this event to the region as part of our fundraising campaign. We wanted to host an online webinar where people have the option to donate. Although optional, we are appealing to all who sign up to donate at least £30.”

The directors of Open North Foundation – all of whom provide their time pro bono – are Chair, Richard Swart, Global Sales Director, Berger Group Europe; Vice Chair, Colin Hewitt, Partner, Ward Hadaway Solicitors; Claire Preston, Teesside entrepreneur; David Foreman, Area Business Manager for Barclays; Gill Courtney, Director of Wessington Cryogenics; Mark Stephenson, Director, Stephenson-Mohl Group; and Paul Shields, Director, MHA Tait Walker.

To sign up to the webinar, please visit the registration page.

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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