I am very proud to be chosen to succeed Graham Wilson as the new Chief Executive of NABMA. It is a daunting task to follow Graham but it is a challenge that I am looking forward to.

I spoke at the NABMA Centenary Conference about my proud background in markets. Firstly, as schoolboy market trader selling fruit and vegetables; then as an operational day-to-day market manager; and proudly as a town clerk dealing with the strategy influence of markets. In recent years I have worked within NABMA delivering the Service Level Agreement for their services out of Oswestry.

It has been rewarding being part of the NABMA family since my first conference experience as far back as 1976 at Llandudno. I now look forward to my new role in an organisation that I have always found to be supportive, friendly and so important in terms of its services, education and networking.

NABMA continues to celebrate its centenary year. Looking back, and reviewing the NABMA 100 brochure launched at Conference, it is clear that the membership can be very proud of the history and the achievements of the past, while looking forward with excitement to addressing the many challenges and opportunities of the present and future.

Recently there has been a well-documented awakening by the Government to the fragile condition of many high streets, with substantial funding and a new organisation now provided to make high streets and town centres fit for the future. The Institute of Place Management’s research confirms that markets are in the top echelon of factors that can contribute to the government aspiration of creating vital and viable town centres, that can then encourage investment. Our January NABMA Conference will therefore closely examine markets in the current renaissance agenda for town centres and how they can fit into the government and partnership agenda.

With the growing appreciation and recognition of the value of markets, then engagement by both NABMA and NMTF with partners such as the High Streets Task Force and the BID Foundation and, of course, with Westminster and the LGA, are priorities.

The next few months will be very busy for NABMA. The Great British Market Awards — which includes online voting for Britain’s Favourite Market — have been launched with a new sponsor, Blachere Illumination. This is a great opportunity to showcase and celebrate some of the wonderful markets and events, of all sizes, that are part of local communities.

Planning is already underway for Love Your Local Market 2020, with VISA back on board as a sponsor. Our regional seminars next year are programmed to look at the basics of market management and good practice, with an agenda consisting of a visit to a market with a story to tell.  Sharing the event with NMTF will be invaluable to offer the trader perspective, and to provide a platform for a wider market discussion.

The driver for successful markets is professional management. Over 150 students now proudly hold the Diploma in Markets Administration and the next step is approaching with our education partners now prepared in June 2020 to offer a bridging course leading to a postgraduate qualification. This is another exciting opportunity to grasp.

I look forward to my new role but it is only right to again pay tribute to Graham Wilson for the passion and exceptional leadership that he has displayed, not only for