A 'PROVEN leader' with a passion for York led Helen Simpson to be chosen to champion the region as it emerges from the pandemic.

An experienced non-executive chair and director, Helen has been appointed to lead the York & North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership board.

Helen will succeed chairman David Kerfoot when he steps down next March, and will be the region's voice in Government talks, including the proposed devolution deal negotiations.

The news was announced today, Friday, at York & North Yorkshire LEP's annual conference, where David said: “Helen’s experience and credentials are exactly what is needed for the role. She is passionate about York and North Yorkshire, is a proven leader and has in-depth experience of working with government at the highest level.

"I am looking forward to working with her over the next few months and I have no doubt that she is an excellent choice to lead the LEP’s vision to build a greener, fairer and stronger economy for the region as we emerge from the pandemic.”

Helen said: “We live in challenging times, so now more than ever, it will be a privilege to champion York and North Yorkshire."

The LEP is a business-led partnership with the public sector, using local knowledge to secure investment in projects that will make a difference to the region’s economy.

As Chair, Helen will lead the Board and work with partners and government in a bid to realise these ambitions, including the devolution talks for York and North Yorkshire which could achieve significant investment and drive the recovery and future growth in the wake of the pandemic.

She will be joining a diverse board whose members represent private and public sector businesses and organisations.

Yorkshire-born, Helen's non-executive experience follows a senior executive career with BT where she led digital growth businesses and major deals, developed strategy and built commercial partnerships before leading BT’s volunteering programme globally.

She chairs Broadacres Housing Association, North Yorkshire, and Trustees Unlimited, which works to improve charity governance.

Helen is also a Trustee with St Martin-in-the-Fields Charity for homeless and vulnerable people.

She received her OBE for services to charity when the Queen's Birthday Honours were announced in October.

Since 2014, the LEP has invested a total of £220.8m to support business, infrastructure, and skills across York and North Yorkshire including housing, transport, flood alleviation, social inclusion and workforce development.