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Staffordshire business people invited to reception with Prime Minister thanks to Chambers of Commerce…

Submitted by on October 19, 2015 – 7:30 am |

Pictured (left to right) are Leila Green, Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce Business Mentor Support BME, Charmaine Cameron-Reale, Charmaine Baines and Derrick Wallace.Three Staffordshire business people have visited number 10 to meet the Prime Minister and celebrate the successes of Black people, in an event to mark Black History Month.

Charmaine Cameron-Reale, Derrick Wallace and Charmaine Baines were amazed to receive invitations to Downing Street after Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce put their names forward for the visit.

Leila Green, Business Mentor Support BME at Staffordshire Chambers, was asked to select business leaders and entrepreneurs from Staffordshire who might be in with a chance of attending the prestigious reception, but Leila’s speedy response resulted in, not one, but three of the suggested business people being selected to attend the event.

Leila said: “We were absolutely thrilled to have three of our nominated business leaders from Stoke-on-Trent invited to attend the Black History Month reception with David Cameron at number 10. We were hoping for one invite, so to get three was just superb.

“The whole experience from start to end was phenomenal. The energy and excitement from when the invitations were received to when we arrived back in Stoke-on-Trent was exceptional. We travelled by train to London and all the way we were talking and sharing knowledge about Black history.”

She added: “This is a huge achievement for Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce to have had three local business leaders representing Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire at number 10. It demonstrates the reach that our chambers have. We work extremely hard behind the scenes to make things like this happen for our members and the people that we work with. The reception was a once in a lifetime opportunity. If I had to use one word to describe the day, it would have to be ‘overwhelming’!”

Charmaine Cameron-Reale, Manager of The Hanley Economic Building Society, is a volunteer Business Mentor for Staffordshire Chambers’ Let’s Do Mentoring programme.

“From the moment I received the invitation, I felt honoured to be chosen,” Charmaine said: “As a Black female in the finance industry, I felt proud to celebrate Black History Month at 10 Downing Street alongside so many inspiring, like-minded people.

“The reception was organised very tastefully with David Cameron walking among his guests talking and shaking hands with so many individuals. I was very lucky to have a conversation with him and gave him my business card. He also mentioned me in his speech which made me feel great.”

Charmaine added: “Words can’t really describe how I am feeling but I can try by saying I feel energised, honoured and privileged to have been given the opportunity to meet David Cameron and thank you to Leila and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce for such a wonderful opportunity.”

Derrick Wallace is the Founder of the Ocis Community Project (OCIS). He works with partners and local agencies to provide work placements to restore confidence and dignity.

He said: “The reception was an experience to remember! The room hosted ‘famous’ personalities and quite a few multi-millionaires. It was refreshing to see people celebrating success. I gained an insight into the high levels of success in ethnic communities across the United Kingdom.

“David Cameron urged for greater levels of ‘visible’ achievement in mainstream British society by people who are unfairly discriminated against.  The Prime Minister is passionate about the ‘Big Society.”

Charmaine Baines has over 20 years’ experience in the music industry, delivering music and radio production workshops to diverse communities and groups across Staffordshire and the West Midlands.

She said: “Being invited to 10 Downing Street was probably one of the proudest moments in my life. I wouldn’t have been attending if it wasn’t for the work I do with young people. It made me feel that the long hours and late nights had been worthwhile.

“I was also proud to represent my family, especially my parents. They came to England in the 1950s from Jamaica and, as we all know, it was a difficult transition for those coming from the Caribbean. So, over 40 years later, to be invited to attend a reception at Downing Street with so many other inspirational people, and to be able to place a copy of the CD of all my hard work into the hands of David Cameron, was a huge milestone in my life.”

She added: “David Cameron’s speech reinforced to me the need to give the next generation the best start in life. They are our future and we all need to be responsible in some way, in guiding them towards education and the power it has in unlocking young people’s potential. It was a momentous, incredible day.”

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