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Assay Office Appoints New Chairman

29 Mar 2012

The 238-year-old Sheffield Assay Office has appointed a new Chairman to oversee the strategic direction of the historic organisation as it moves through a changing period for the industry.

Chris Heaton, who co-opted onto the Executive of the Sheffield Assay Office in September 2008, took up the post on January 1st having been a Guardian of the Office since 2009.

The post of Chairman, first held by the 3rd Earl of Effingham, was created at the formation of the Sheffield Assay Office in 1773 in order to head up the 'Guardians of the Standard of Wrought Plate in the Town of Sheffield' – 30 men put in place to oversee the work of the Office.

The Guardians were restricted to include just ten silversmiths in order to ensure that the Office was an impartial and independent service run for the benefit of the consumer, rather than the manufacturer – an ethos it maintains to this day.

Today, the business must constantly evolve to meet the demands of society and the industry, and the Chairman is responsible for providing the strategic lead and direction of the organisation as it progresses.

A languages graduate from Durham University, the latest Chairman has experienced a varied career. As a chartered accountant, Chris spent 6 years as a professional trainer in Leeds, Sheffield and London, specialising in Company Law, Taxation and Auditing.

Subsequently, Chris has worked as Managing Director, Chief Executive and Finance Director in a variety of companies, and across a range of sectors. He has operated at director level at private organisations in manufacturing, engineering, IT, and recruitment to name but four, and has also sat on the boards of several public and voluntary sector bodies in both Leeds and Sheffield.

Chris is also a keen marathon runner, and in May 2010 he ran the Brathay Challenge of 10 marathons in 10 days – becoming only the 30th person in history ever to do so.

Chris comments: “Having worked with the office for three years, I’m delighted to be named as Chairman of such an historic company, and to follow in the footsteps of British aristocracy is incredible.

“The Office is a very modern organisation for one of 238 years, and has moved into a variety of avenues to develop with the times. The industry is very much a changing environment, but the staff here have shown that they can provide innovative solutions to any issues which arise that the Office is in a position to help with.”

Ashley Carson, Assay Master at the Sheffield Assay Office, said, “Chris has done some great work in the three years since he has been here, and his expertise and previous experience in assisting businesses through difficult economic times – not only for themselves, but for their respective industries – will prove invaluable as we look to develop the business in new and exciting fields.”

Christopher Jewitt and Chris Heaton

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