Elaine Dean, a lifelong co-operator, has been named as the new president of Central England Co-operative after being elected unanimously.
She will now chair the board of directors, ensuring the society carries out its commitment to be a successful co-operative business and to serve the best interests of its members.
“I am so proud to have been elected as president and I am looking forward to helping to continue our work as a strong, independent, and successful society,” she said.
Ms Dean has been a member of the society for 50 years this month. “I had my name down for a small share number at the former Derby Society for many months beforehand and was allocated 266. Membership was a 16th birthday gift from my parents!
“My family imbued me with a passion for this business model as a way of working together. Collectively, my family has around 230 years’ service to the former Derby Co-op.”
Derby Co-op merged with a number of regional societies to form the Central Midlands Co-operative Society in 1985, which itself merged with Anglia in 2014 to become Central England.
Ms Dean, who is a member of seven co-ops, and is chair of Co-operative Press, was first elected to the former Derby Co-op in 1980, when she was seven months pregnant, and has been continuously elected ever since.
“At the end of this term of office it will be 40 years but my passion and enthusiasm remains undiminished.
“I want to lead by enthusiastic example and put Central England at the forefront of the national movement by more participation in the wider co-operative world and by doing the most co-oppy things in the most co-oppy way, so that we are a shining example of how a co-operative should be.”
She believes that people, and its values and principles should be at the forefront of all a co-operative represents.
“I am proud of Central England’s relationships with members and all the work we do with members from educational visits to groups, classes, events and activities that continue all year round. We have a sound engagement which engenders loyalty.
“Historically I was also extremely proud back in the late 70s/early 80s when we supported the Anti-Apartheid Movement in boycotting South African goods.”
Elaine will be supported in her role by Maria Lee who was elected as the society’s new vice-president. Paul Singh was also re-elected to serve on the board and Sean Clothier was re-elected unopposed as an employee director. All positions are for a three-year term.
“Elaine, Maria and their fellow directors will continue to work closely with our chief executive Martyn Cheatle and his team in pursuit of our vision to be the UK’s best consumer co-operative society by making a real difference to our members and our communities,” said Jim Watts, society secretary.
“We wish them every success in their new roles.”