THE LEADING lights of the Hounslow business world will be cracking open the champagne this month as they celebrate the 100th birthday of Hounslow Chamber.

This May the organisation, made up of 300 local businesses, is gearing up for its big day - a century after it was first formed under the name The Formation of Hounslow Tradesmen's Association.

President Ela Grabinska-Raubusch, a business and life coach, was elected at the Chamber's AGM last month.

She said: "I was very excited when I realised I'd be president in the Chamber's centenary year."

A year after its creation in 1908 the association switched its name to Hounslow Chamber of Commerce and in 1973 it merged with Feltham Chamber of Commerce and finally Chiswick Chamber in 1975.

Former president Les Robinson, of Heston, said: "The chamber has been supporting Hounslow businesses for manyyears. There's been a shift over time as many industrial firms moved out of the area - now a lot of our members are in retail or services."

Mr Robinson, who joined the chamber in 1992, says he has seen many changes during his time as a member.

"There are definitely a lot more women," he said. "And I imagine our membership is generally a lot more varied than it was 100 years ago - with lots of little businesses and self-employed people.

"But we're still working towards the same aim - to make Hounslow a good place for all kinds of businesses to be. The chamber's going into the 21st centuryvery strong."

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