Members of the Southern Group of Motoring Writers have appointed a new Chairman after Sue Baker decided to stand down following five years’ tireless work in promoting the Group – she is succeeded by fellow freelancer Chris Rees.
The change of chairs came at the Group’s AGM, held at The Aviator Hotel, Farnborough and kindly hosted by PSA in order to introduce the new look Peugeot, Citroën and DS PR departments.
Following a unanimous vote, Chris Rees’ election also provided a timely and apt moment for him to perform his first duty: presenting Peugeot Head of Communications Kevin Jones with the newly engraved winner’s trophy from the group’s now famous Karting Grand Prix, which Chris has organised since the event launched last year.
He joined the group in 2008, and is a freelance motoring writer and author with a passion for all matters motoring – he’s even written a book about three-wheelers – and has run a series of interesting and classic cars over the years, the latest being an Alfa Romeo SZ.
“I’m absolutely delighted to be elected Chairman of the Southern Group and join a committee that embodies the passion, pride and professionalism of the membership as a whole,” he said. I look forward to working with members and our industry colleagues to continue the positive trajectory of the group.”
Chris also led praise for his predecessor: “Sue Baker has been an outstanding Chairman over her five-year tenure. She is the very definition of a tough act to follow, and I hope I can do her legacy justice and move the group forwards.”
Group founder Dave Ward said Sue was leaving office having steered the SGMW to the point where the quality of its membership was the strongest that it had ever been. The SGMW currently numbers 26, believed to make it the biggest regional motoring group.
Sue, a vastly experienced motoring scribe and former ‘Top Gear’ presenter in years BC (Before Clarkson – though their service did briefly overlap) said: “It has been a privilege to lead the Southern Group as chairman for the past five years, and I am delighted that the group is in good hands going forward with Chris Rees as its new and very able custodian.”
Other changes at the AGM included Chris Manning – already editor of the Group’s Handbook – taking over as Vice-Chairman from fellow Essex man and the Group’s founder, Dave Ward.
Several new members were welcomed: Claire Evans – who also volunteered to take over as Minutes Secretary – Charis Whitcombe, Brian Laban, and Graham Heeps.
Secretary Ian Robertson and Treasurer Jackie Violet, were re-elected unopposed and Steve Loader continues as publicity officer.
Chris Rees also agreed to carry on for the time being as events co-ordinator, while some willing assistants are trained – particularly to run the Karting Grand Prix, which raised £4,350 this year, bringing total donations to the Kent & Sussex Air Ambulance – the SGMW’s favoured charity – to £7,700 since the event began.
Members later heard from its online expert Massimo Pini (New Car Net) that the group would soon launch an all-new website, suitable for all platforms including tablets and smartphones, accommodating Twitter feeds from members, and complete with a bespoke red and white online version of the Group’s now famous ‘hot metal’ logo.
A unanimous vote of thanks was also agreed for Peugeot’s Director of Communications Andrew Didlick and his team for hosting the AGM and introducing the newly-created PR teams for the Peugeot, Citroën and DS brands and giving the SGMW insight into their future strategies.