A Happy 10th Birthday

Ten years ago a group of businesswomen and women managers in West Lothian set up West Lothian Women in Business. At that time male businessmen tended to network at the golf club or in the bar and the notion that women needed a forum of their own was new.

The idea evolved from a year-long mentoring project, funded by the very imaginative Economic Development Department of West Lothian Council. Each of the women in the group was paired with a businesswomen who was either established, or just setting out. After training we were let loose on our mentees.

Good feedback from those taking part in this innovative project led us to look at a way of becoming a more permanent resource. West Lothian was, and still is, a diverse community and many of our members are sole traders working alone, often from home and without the usual office networks to back them up. Others were running larger operations and we quickly found that people were more than willing to help and advise each other.

The Council and the Chamber of Commerce were, and still are, partners in the project and with their backing we were able to keep the membership fee low – currently just £40 per year which includes all meetings and lunches with only the Annual Excellence Awards dinner coming as extra. Links with the largely male dominated Chamber ensure that when we have joint meetings our voices are also heard!

Members businesses range from IT, manufacturing, web design, tourism, personal coaching and fitness, public relations, nursery care and writing to those who work as managers in both public and private sectors. It’s a lively group ranging in ages from 20 to over 60.

Recently we celebrated our 10th birthday, complete with cake, at the Deer Park Country Club in Livingston with presentations from this year’s Excellence Award winners. So from a modest idea the forum has grown in strength and influence and we expect to prosper for many years to come.

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About Christine Richard OBE FRSA

http://www.lothianlife.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/Christine.jpg Christine has over 25 years' experience in public life in Scotland in the fields of politics, education, public relations and charity work. For 12 years she served on the City of Edinburgh District Council and was her Group's leader for 4 years. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In 1992 she was made an OBE. Christine is a member of the Board of The Friends of the Royal Scottish Academy. She has just completed six years on the Board of The Edinburgh International Festival. Christine's business experience has covered the fields of theatre, economic development, science, coal mining, education and training. She has held a number of non-executive directorships in these disciplines. She is a trained and experienced personal relationships counsellor and a business and personal mentor. In 2005 Christine established Christine Richard Associates who undertake Event Management and Public Relations as well as company and individual profiling. She coordinated the 'Yes to Edinburgh' campaign on congestion charging in Edinburgh. ten years ago Christine co-founded West Lothian Women in Business, which is a network for women who are self-employed and also for women managers. Christine has now stepped down from the Chair of this thriving organisation. For 5 years Christine was a magistrate in the District Court. She was also a member of the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on the appointment of Justices of the Peace. She has been an adviser to Government in various areas of policy, including health, local government and education. Christine is a trained and experienced radio and television broadcaster and writer as well as an entertaining and accomplished speaker. She has a wealth of topics on which she is invited to speak. These range from witty after lunch and after dinner speaking to the more serious topics of the economy, health, education, enterprise, the Powers of the Mind and Life/work balance. She writes reviews and articles for lifestyle magazine, Lothian Life. She took part as a contestant in an ITV gourmet TV show, Chef V Britain, challenging TV chef Gino D'Acampo to cook her signature dish, Posh Cottage Pie. Currently Christine is a member of the Goodison Group in Scotland and Scotland's Futures. Also she is involved in the group Changing the Chemistry of Scottish Boards. Her first novel, Whitewalls, a modern Scottish family saga has been published by New Generation Publishing and is available on all internet books siets and from libraries. She is writing a sequel Autumn at Whitewalls. Her leisure interests include her family, literature, music, theatre, food, wine and horse racing. She is a member of a racing syndicate, which has two horses in training.
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