DAVID Kerfoot says a big part of his life is being ‘ripped out’ as he prepares to step down as chairman of York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

A recruitment campaign is underway to find his successor to lead LEP's main board, to help shape and deliver its vision for the region. Applications close on Friday, October 2.

David retires on March 31 next year when he will also relinquish his title of High Sheriff of North Yorkshire. He was on the original LEP board 10 years ago, then served as deputy chairman for six years before three years in the top post.

“It is a big part of my life being ripped out," said David, who previously founded The Kerfoot Group with his wife Elizabeth in 1980 and saw global sales top £80 million before the Group was sold to French agricultural giant Avril in 2015.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed it. It has been incredibly challenging but I wouldn't have missed it for anything."

He added: "In my three years as chair I have had to handle two LEP reviews, a potential merger with Leeds City Region, which took up a year of my life, Covid and now devolution. We have got through and taken the right decisions where we had to. We have been able to make a difference."

Y & NY LEP is geographically the largest, rural, LEP area in the UK. Its diverse economy includes 32,250 micro and small businesses making up 98.5 per cent of all businesses based in the region.

The LEP helps to shape future priorities, develop partnerships, and secure public and private sector investment to deliver economic growth.

Since 2014, it has invested £220.8m to support business, infrastructure and skills. It also works with skills providers to ensure the region is meeting employer demand and investing in innovation, facilities and digital technology for the future.

David said the LEP now had 'a better and bigger connection with business and the people that matter'. "As a region, we been able to quietly make high level contacts that have influenced Government decisions for us in a number of ways, whether for funding or projects.

"As a LEP, I think we have given tremendous value for money and we have delivered with all the different projects we have done. I am very proud of that. I shall follow LEP closely. It's important we get another chairman who can take it forward in a positive manner."

So what qualities are needed for to lead the LEP board as chair?

"To do a job like this you have to have passion about the region," said David. "Unless you understand what the region needs and where it is going, there's no point doing it. You have to reflect that to win the many battles that you have to go into with Government.

"It's important to provide visible leadership to drive and push the economy. You have to be seen to be making the case, that's absolutely key. You have to commit a lot of time. You need energy, to be able to look strategically and be a good listener."