Bega business advocates acknowledge highs and lows of 2020

Bega District News article by Ben Smyth published August 20 2020

The newly elected Bega Chamber of Commerce executive following Wednesday night's AGM. Photo: Ben Smyth

 The newly elected Bega Chamber of Commerce executive following Wednesday night’s AGM. Photo: Ben Smyth

Bega’s Chamber of Commerce welcomed faces old and new to its executive committee on Wednesday night.

Acknowledging the extraordinarily challenging year the district has had, the chamber used its AGM to also celebrate the “fantastic highs” and achievements of the local business sector.

Special guest speaker at the AGM, which was held in the Bega Valley Motors showroom, was Bega Cheese executive chairman Barry Irvin, who joined via video conference to share insights on the history and future of his iconic company.

John Watkin, owner of Inspirations Paint, was returned as Bega Chamber of Commerce president for another year. Tim Whittaker, who has just taken up a new role with council as a business support officer, was re-elected treasurer.

Joining them on the executive committee for the next 12 months are John Stylianou, dealer principal at Tarra Motors; Mal Barnes owner of Mal’s Pizza Bite; Steven Millott, business facilitator with the federal government’s Strengthening Business Entrepreneurs’ Program; Emma Keft, sales manager at 2EC/PowerFM; Dixie Fitzclarence, solicitor with Clarke Law; Kirsty Towill, lending manager at Commonwealth Bank Bega; and Tim Shinnick, sales manager at Australian Community Media (publisher of this website).

 Robert Hayson is congratulated and thanked for his 25 years on the chamber executive after he decided to step down this year.

Long-serving member of the Bega Chamber executive – some 25 years – Robert Hayson was thanked for his commitment with a special presentation at the AGM.

My Hayson, who for 20 years has also been the chairman of the Bega Valley Business Forum, which represents all the shire’s various chambers, is stepping down from both executive committees this year.

In Mr Watkin’s president’s report for 2020, he said the main highlight of the year was the resurrection of Bega’s Customer Service Awards, held last November. Unfortunately, despite planning already well underway, this year’s event had to be cancelled.

Other highlights included the launch of a new website,, continuing engagement with the council, participation in bushfire recovery roundtables, and advocacy on behalf of Bega businesses with federal and state governments.

While COVID-19 has prevented the chamber from running its regular retail activities through the year, Mr Watkin said it was still hoped an event can be held in the lead-up to Christmas, including a busking competition.

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