Honley Business Association | AGM | Sylvia Sellen steps down as Chairperson

by | Jul 26, 2023 | News

Sylvia Sellen, affectionately known as Sylv, helmed Honley Business Association (HBA) during what may be considered the most turbulent years in recent memory. As her remarkable four-year tenure ends, we reflect on her impactful leadership. 

Champion for Honley Businesses

In March 2019, Sylv dedicated her time to listening to business owners in their factories, workshops, premises and homes, and at networking events. Her commitment to understanding their individual needs and aspirations laid the foundation for her successful leadership.

A dedicated businesswoman, Sylv started her tenure post-Brexit, helping businesses with supply chain issues and staff shortages. She also worked into the wee small hours orchestrating vital support for Honley businesses during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 2020,  working alongside what Sylv calls “the dream team” (HBA’s leadership team – Philip Lofthouse, June McLean and Janet Bebb), she helped businesses access the government’s 80% wage scheme and interruption loans. During national tiering and the government’s rule of six, Sylv also lead Honley Covid relief for six months, running a team of 45 volunteers to deliver food and services from local businesses to those quarantined in their homes.

In Nov 2020, Sylv turned her focus to a post-covid business marketplace.  She worked with Royal Mail to ensure that the local Post Office remained in Honley as a vital service for many businesses and the community. The following year she negotiated with local landowners to fill empty retail properties, successfully introducing Rachel Valli of Redress Boutique – and HBA’s new Chairperson – to a property on Church Street that had been vacant for eighteen months.

Diverse Businesses Thrive Together

Sylv and the HBA team also worked together with Kirklees to trial street-food markets during breaks in the Covid cycle and restarted networking for Honley businesses in July 2021.

Later in 2020, as talk began of a vaccine and national centres being set up, Sylv decided that the only way to support Honley’s local and business community was to approach Medicare and collaboratively apply for a vaccination centre in Honley. The rest as they say is history.

“We’re fortunate in Honley to have a rich diversity of businesses – we’re not just your typical village with a standard high street.  Our businesses sit within Honley’s business parks (a nod to our village’s industrial past), high street and as home enterprises,” said Sylv.

“Each is at a different stage in its development and unique in its goals, location and needs.  This tapestry of businesses wanted something slightly different from HBA. Our challenge was to find something of value to them all, while also developing and delivering a solution during Covid.”

From Virtual to Visible

With unwavering determination, Sylv saw an innovative solution.

In recognising the need for increased visibility and connectivity, she embarked on a mission to create a website that would list each business in one centralised platform.

With her visionary approach, Sylv brought businesses together and created a collaborative platform that could be used either for marketing an established business or as a means of helping start-ups.

In May 2019, HBA invested in a new website for the benefit of businesses, the village and its community groups. We are now reaping the benefits of that investment with a vibrant social media presence. HBA’s Honley Community Facebook group has 10,200 members and businesses receive on average 1,200 to 5,500  views when shared, liked and commented upon.

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Challenging Times to New Hope

In February 2022, when businesses reopened and Sylv should have been celebrating, she contracted COVID-19. The major side effect was losing her hair.  Sylv took several months to recover and some six months for her hair to regrow. This was then followed by a heart attack in October.

“It was a truly challenging time, and though I yearned to step back, my desire to stand by people, businesses and our community kept driving me forwards.”

Sylv’s tireless passion and determination to help people and businesses remain as she continues to support HBA and its committee.

She has set herself the task of working with local businesses on resource shortfalls as a result of Brexit and Covid.  She and June McLean will start work on trialling an apprenticeship scheme to help Honley companies secure local talent and provide employment opportunities for school leavers.

New Leadership for Platform of Collaboration

New HBA Chairperson, Rachel Valli, is the owner of ReDress Boutique and owns Valli Optometry and Audiology with her husband Moin.

A Successful Business Platform

The role offers Rachel a successful platform as she continues to support Honley businesses.

Rachel said: “Sylvia’s commitment and passion have been instrumental in shaping the success and growth of HBA. Under her guidance and vision, it has made remarkable achievements.

“The business forum was created to connect businesses and to help support the local community. It’s arguably the most successful business association in the area. It aims to support our local business community and provides a great marketing platform for businesses to advertise. It is also an opportunity for businesses to give back to their local community through business support, community initiatives and fundraising.”

Determination to Support People and Business

Rachel is supported in her role by Vice-Chairperson Liz Gill of Liz Gill Mortgages Ltd in Honley.

June McLean, of Zebra Jewellery and Gifts continues as Secretary of HBA, and Philip Lofthouse, of Stead Robinson Accountants, remains as Treasurer. Both June and Philip are looking to take a step back from their roles and would welcome a friendly chat with anyone who may be interested.

Wired Coffee and Cake’s Katie and Oliver, and Lynne Green, of Creating Memories, will continue to serve on the committee. They are joined by committee members Sylv, Mortgage Advisor Laura Hanson and Nicola Stacey of Well North Physiotherapy & Wellbeing.

A Collaborative Business Platform

As well as a supportive network of business owners, one of the benefits of becoming a HBA member is having your business listed on the Honley Info website which receives an average of 2,300 views per month. Your business listing is shared on the Honley Community Facebook group.

Website membership is £120 per year, with a minimum three-year signup. The marketing benefit is a professionally written business profile, photography, a free blog and access to the Honley Community Facebook group where your business is promoted by social media experts.

Standard membership is £50 per year and allows members to share their business page on the Honley Community Facebook group.

As a member of HBA, you are invited to promote your business on the community page once a week.

To join HBA click here.

Click here to discover businesses in Honley and explore village life.

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