Shropshire Chamber of Commerce’s new chief executive has pledged her unwavering dedication to supporting economic and employment opportunities across the county.

Ruth Ross officially took over the top position this week following the retirement of Richard Sheehan, who has been with the organisation for nearly 16 years.

She paid tribute to her predecessor’s ‘dedication and tireless work on behalf of the Shropshire business community’.

And she said: “I am excited and proud to have been given the opportunity to lead this fantastic team, and fully recognise the importance of the Chamber’s place within the business community.

“The foundations of the organisation are solid and its commitment to supporting economic and employment opportunities remains unwavering.

“This is a challenging climate for our business community, but it is at times of economic struggle that the support and backing of a member organisation like Shropshire Chamber really comes into its own.”

Ruth, who joined the Chamber in 2015, was appointed deputy chief executive last year having previously fulfilled a variety of roles including membership recruitment, skills and compliance, and director of business.

She added: “Working with the Chamber team, members and stakeholders over the last 18 months, as we redesign the services we deliver in response to the changing needs of business, has been enlightening.

“We have an ambitious strategy in place to double the size of the Chamber’s membership base, which will provide new and dynamic business networking contacts, and give us a much more powerful lobbying voice in the corridors of power.

“And with the fantastic team we have here at the Chamber, I am confident it’s something we can deliver.”

Ruth said: “Whilst we all recognise the future comes with challenges, I firmly believe in one thing: Working together makes us stronger, and as ‘team Shropshire’ we can achieve great things.

“Collectively we can fight the county’s corner and lobby our decision-makers – and we will continue to listen to our members and partners to shape our services in a way which best meets their needs.”

Piran Littleton, Shropshire Chamber’s president, said: “Ruth has been taking increasing day-to-day operational responsibility for Chamber activities over recent months, and has flourished in the role.

“Her appointment as chief executive will deliver important continuity, and ensure that it is very much business-as-usual for our members, patrons and partners.”

Mr Sheehan will retain his links with the Chamber for the coming months in his role as project director for a Local Skills Improvement Plan for the Marches area.

The plan, funded by the Department for Education and being led by Shropshire Chamber, aims to put the voice of employers at the heart of the learning and skills system to build stronger partnership with further education providers.