HAMPSHIRE Chamber has a new president determined that the county’s leaders should hand it over “in better shape than we took it on”.

Peter Taylor, managing partner of Southampton-based law firm Paris Smith, describes himself as a “servant leader” dedicated to helping people be the best versions of themselves.

He has pledged to help businesses across the county “grow and connect”.

“The chamber is the voice of business in Hampshire. Together we can make a significant difference in helping to build a thriving business environment and ensuring future generations can flourish,” he said.

“I will work as hard as I possibly can to be visible across the county understanding what the challenges and synergies are.”

Mr Taylor has taken over the presidency from David Joel, who spent three years in the voluntary role.

He told the Daily Echo: “I think the first priority is to ensure that we really understand the opportunities and indeed the challenges for the economy across the county – including our rural economy, which is so important as well.”

Mr Taylor had to shield during the first Covid lockdown as a kidney transplant made him clinically extremely vulnerable.

“One of the big lessons I’ve taken away from the pandemic is about support and collaboration and shared learning and I’m committed to ensure that we maintain that on a county-wide scale,” he said.

“I see myself as a servant leader, enabling businesses and people within businesses to be the best version of themselves.

“I’m committed to ensuring that our community thrives – and businesses across the county have a role to play in that we all embrace the best of Hampshire at the moment and that we see it as our responsibility to hand that on for future generations in better shape than we took it on.”

Mr Taylor lived in naval accommodation in Portsmouth when his father was a nautical engineer with the Royal Navy. Both his brothers served in the Falklands.

He has practised in Hampshire for all but 18 months of his legal career. He joined Paris Smith in 1991 and has been its managing partner for seven years. He is a trustee of West Hill Park School in Fareham.

A Warsash resident, he has two adult daughters and is a keen rugby and cricket fan.

Paying tribute to his predecessor, he said: “David will be a hard act to follow, He has served the chamber with an amazing sense of values, respect, honesty and integrity. He has never shied away from difficult decisions.

“David has been particularly instrumental in ensuring businesses have been able to access the support they have needed over the past 18 months. We owe him a great deal of thanks.”

As well as the appointing the new president, the AGM confirmed the re-election of four board members: Ed Gould, David Harris, Joe Jeffers and Mark Mills-Goodlet.

A new non-executive director, Liana Brien, an expert in banking and chair of the chamber’s Andover business strategy group, was also appointed.