Ignite is a Not for Profit Organisation supported by Braintree District Council, Essex County Council and Local Business People, with the following board members:


Chairman – Nigel Harley

As the Chairman of Ignite, Nigel uses his experience in local authority and the business sector to navigate the board through the issues of the day.

Following a career in international reinsurance working for British, American and French companies, he started his own business publishing firm in 1995. The company grew significantly and was sold very successfully fifteen years later. Concurrently with his involvement in the private sector, he was a member of Braintree District Council for twelve years, holding the portfolio for Economic Development and later becoming Deputy Leader of the Council.

Nigel has been a Director of Ignite since the creation of the organisation and is involved to help promote and nurture smaller businesses and to assist people into employment. He sees the SME sector as vital to the economy as it provides the majority of the jobs in the country.

Personally, Nigel likes heading a not for profit organisation and has enjoyed the recent challenges faced by Ignite and helping with their resolution. The immediate challenge is to fill the new units and to use the new conference facilities to maximum effect. He would like to see Ignite established as the premier provider of business services and support in Essex and would also like to see the District providing a wide range of employment opportunities for its residents with lots of support coming from Ignite.



Vice Chairman – Roger Walters (Essex County Council Representative)

Cllr Roger Walters has been involved with Ignite for more than twelve years, having been part of the original board when part of the organisation was known as Beau. Roger has extensive business experience having had a career in banking and finance where he dealt directly with PLC’s and a range of small businesses.

He has been a County Councillor for fifteen years, serving in many roles including as a Cabinet Member. He also served on the District Council for twelve years where he again served as a Cabinet Member. Roger was previously a Director of ExTRA (Essex Development and Regeneration Agency). He is currently a Director of iESE, a not for profit Consultancy working in the public sector, he is also a Director of Essex Cares Ltd.

Roger has supported the aims of both Braintree Enterprise Acorn Units and now Ignite believing that growth in jobs and businesses does not just happen, it needs help to be successful.


CEO/MD – Liz Storey

Liz has made herself an integral part of the District since she relocated here several years ago. In addition to running Ignite on a day-to-day basis, she also sits on all of the area’s town teams, chairing Braintree, and ensures the organisation has a national voice having been elected twice to the board of the National Enterprise Network.

She has an intimidating record in the sales industry, winning numerous country-wide prizes and being tasked with developing and writing a national sales strategy for BMW, not to mention leading whole teams at major branches. Since leaving that industry for greater challenges, she has honed her all-round company running skills in various sectors. She has also successfully operated and sold a business and organised a series of regular networking events, further proving her entrepreneurial and people credentials.

Liz now finds herself utilising all the skills she has developed (both here and elsewhere) to champion business in the district. Taking a very hands-on approach to leadership, she is involved with every aspect of Ignite’s business.


Tom Cunningham (Braintree District Council Representative)

More to follow…



Chris Siddall

Chris was appointed Managing Director of one of the District’s most successful companies, Eastern Plastics Machinery, in 2001. His work involves negotiating complex deals with companies such as Phillips, Plessey, Toyota, EMI and Gillette, providing manufacturing solutions and the service and support for machinery which is used for the production of many household plastics parts which we rely on today, from car bumpers to connectors in your mobile phone.

The company is involved in import and export to and from the UK, but also manufactures a wide range of parts in the UK using subcontractors. Machinery has been supplied to many countries throughout Europe and also to the rest of the world including:- Mexico, Brazil, Poland, India, China & USA.

Chris stood and was elected to Braintree District Council in December 2008 and represents the Three Colnes Ward. He first joined the board at Ignite as a Braintree District Council representative and feels the work Ignite is doing is very important for the District and its economy. He wants to use his experience to help Ignite prosper and grow and really enjoys the thought that Ignite can help companies starting out avoid the mistakes he made 37 years ago when he first started running his own company.


Ian Cass

Having walked through the doors of Corner House in 1999 seeking some business advice after being made redundant, Ian Cass is living proof of the benefits the organisation provides. As well as running his own consultancy, he is now a director of eight organisations (nine including Ignite), and is a leading member of the Witham Town Team.

Providing a wealth of experience and knowledge to the organisations he is involved with, his day to day business sees him manage a team who help make people the best they can be in business. Championing everyone also translates to how he sees his role on the board of Ignite, and that is to make sure that everyone is represented. Ian helps maintain a District-wide view and is always ready to provide an opinion for the areas outside of Braintree.

Ian hopes that Ignite will continue to evolve to become the natural one-stop shop for anyone with a dream of running a business or that needs help with growing a business in the Braintree District. He believes, the biggest challenges facing start-ups and entrepreneurs is red tape and feels that people live in the real world and would like the government of the day to make the rules and regulations more business friendly. His vision for the District sees Witham becoming more developed, making more use of its road and rail links.


Claire Hunt

Braintree-based Ignite Business Enterprise has appointed a new Director, Claire Hunt, who specialises in business law.

As a solicitor at Birkett Long LLP in the Commercial and Corporate Finance Team, Claire advises businesses and business owners on best legal practice. She is also a member of the firm’s Small Business Team, that specialises in advising small business and start-ups, which is a perfect fit with Ignite.

Claire, who lives in Braintree, has a personal and professional interest in the success of the district. She said: “I feel it’s really important that Ignite continues to help small businesses and start-ups because they are vital to our economy. Every business has to start somewhere; after all, a small business today may be a multi-national one in the future.”

“My vision for the Braintree district is that the number of businesses continues to grow and that they are successful, creating more employment opportunities and attracting other businesses to the area.”