Entrepreneur and television personality Saira Khan returned to her home town of Long Eaton on Friday to officially open the new headquarters of enterprise agency Erewash Partnership.
(l-r): Partnership chief executive Ian Viles and chairman Simon Woods with Saira Khan and the deputy mayor of Erewash Cllr Val Custance.
Saira, who was born in Long Eaton, went to school there and still has family there, said she felt humbled and privileged to be opening Bridge House on Derby Road.
Unveiling a commemorative plaque, she told guests, most of whom had worked to transform the building which had been empty for years: “If somebody had hold me when I was a pupil at Harrington junior school I would be talking to you important people I would have said ‘get off’.’
“I’m a working class girl from this small town and I have achieved because of the values of the local people – friendliness, hard work, helping each other and building a strong community, ”said the businesswoman who rose to fame as runner-up in the first series 10 years ago of The Apprentice.
Saira said Bridge House, which also has suites let out to local businesses, plus a meeting room, was just what Long Eaton needed.
“There’s lots of potential out there for young people and entrepreneurs. Bridge House allows such people from lots of businesses to come here and create a business community.”
Welcoming guests, Councillor Val Custance, deputy mayor of Erewash, remarked that the Partnership, which inspires enterprise, was celebrating its 20th anniversary.
“During this time the officers have assisted with the formation and development of numerous small businesses within the area,” she said.
“This is a terrific achievement and I know that the borough council would like to offer its congratulations and thanks for the partnership work that has been carried out in order to promote economic and social wellbeing throughout the borough.”
Partnership chief executive Ian Viles thanked all those, including the board and staff, who had helped make the move of the headquarters from Ilkeston to Bridge House possible.
This included the borough council, Derbyshire County Council which had given a grant towards cycle facilities, and the generosity of contractors, one of whom had given building work worth more than £4,000 and another who had fitted the access system for a nominal £1.
Later in the evening Saira presented special business awards at a glittering dinner held in Trent College, Long Eaton, to mark 20 years of the Partnership.