BUSINESSES across the district are seeing the gender balance redressed.

That’s the message from Suzanne Watson, who has become just the second female president in Bradford Chamber of Commerce’s 168-year history.

And for the first-time ever, the organisation also has a female vice-president – Vicky Wainwright.

Suzanne, managing director of Approach PR, told guests at the chamber’s annual dinner: “Bradford district – the original early adopter of the Industrial Revolution – is today experiencing a gender revolution.

“Our leading ladies include council leader Susan Hinchcliffe and chief executive Kersten England, Sandy Needham – chief executive of West and North Yorkshire Chamber and newly-appointed Deputy Lieutenant of West Yorkshire – and a multitude of inspirational manufacturing leaders.”

She also spoke at the event – at the Midland Hotel in Bradford – about changes and progress made in the district over the past two decades.

Suzanne acknowledged the uncertainty being felt by members since the result of the EU referendum in 2016 and due to the current General Election campaign.

But she praised the business community locally and regionally for its “can do” attitude and “refusal to buckle in the face of obstacles set before it”. And she spoke about her own business success with Approach PR, which has won 26 industry awards

She stressed the importance of lobbying for improvements to transport and skills and of breaking the devolution deadlock.

“We’re fighting to keep Northern Powerhouse Rail and HS2 on track and to keep Bradford on the line that would prove transformational for our local economy and the future of not only our businesses but opportunities for our young people,” she added.

“We are relentless in our pursuit to release the devolution deadlock and free the funds and control that should be managed within our region.”

Suzanne also paid tribute to her predecessor, Nick Garthwaite, whose manufacturing initiative connecting with schools has provided work experiences to 10,000 young people since it began two years ago.

The dinner was attended by more than 300 business representatives, politicians and civic dignitaries.

It was also addressed by BBC TV presenter Dan Walker, who spoke about his BBC Breakfast and sports presenting career.