New Gatwick Diamond Initiative Chairman Revealed

04 August 2020

David Butcher, Managing Director of FD Outsourcing Ltd, is standing down as Chairman of the Management Board of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative. David announced his resignation after 17 years at the helm of the economic development initiative. He will continue to serve as a director of the Company.

The Gatwick Diamond Initiative began in 2003, when David was asked by West Sussex County Council to lead an economic development initiative to improve the economic performance of the Area, over an initial 10-year time frame.   

From the outset, this high-profile public/private partnership sought to bring together major stakeholders to address the area’s economic needs.  In 2004, it launched the Gatwick Diamond brand, now widely known and used, regionally, nationally and internationally. 

Over the past 17 years it has brought together major stakeholders (regional government, County Councils, District and Borough Councils and a range of other public/private sector organisations), to focus on the actions that can be taken to improve the economic performance of the area.  Prior to COVID-19, the Gatwick Diamond grew into one of the strongest regional economies in the UK, home to 45,000 businesses and £24 billion GDP.

Commenting on his decision to stand down as Chairman, David Butcher said: “It is critical that we do all we can to minimize the damage COVID-19 has done and is still doing to the Gatwick Diamond economy.  It is a fight where all stakeholders need to join and work together.  The Gatwick Diamond Initiative provides an ideal forum to do that.

“It is not going to be easy.  It will require leadership, vision and determination over an extended period.  I am delighted that Brett North has agreed to take over as Chair leading that fight, and to provide such a safe pair of hands for me to hand the baton to.”

Brett North, group marketing director of Sussex homebuilder Thakeham will take the helm with immediate effect.   Brett, who lives in Horsham, is a well-known figure in the Gatwick Diamond area. He has been a member of the GDI board since August 2016 and is currently Chair of the GDI Promote Group. He has held a succession of senior and multinational roles in marketing and external affairs in construction, healthcare, manufacturing and transport over 25 years.

Before joining Billingshurst-based Thakeham in 2017, Brett was marketing director at Elekta in Crawley. He was part of the team who delivered the 14,000 square meter (150,000 square foot) Cornerstone building in Crawley - now an internationally renowned centre of excellence and home to over 700 engineers, scientists, clinicians and customer-facing professionals.

On accepting the role, Brett’s first task as chairman of the Gatwick Diamond Initiative was to pay tribute to outgoing chairman David Butcher.  He said: “David will be a tough act to follow. We all know how much time and energy he has devoted to the role. There can’t be many high-profile UK economic initiatives that have benefitted from a chairman committing to a 17-year tenure. I’m personally delighted that he is continuing as a director. His enthusiasm, insights and counsel will continue to inspire us all.

“If there was ever a time when businesses in the region needed to come together it is now. These are some of the most unique and challenging times we have ever faced. This will be a huge challenge for us all. And I relish the opportunity to bring us all together and collaborate to deliver an even more prosperous future. I can’t wait to get started.”

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