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Branch Event

IoD Cheshire | Rising from the Ashes – Tales of Business Resilience - FULLY BOOKED

04 Jul 2019
Chester Zoo, Chester


Overcoming adversity is something that every organisation must face at some stage and adversity comes in many forms, be it adverse market conditions, a lack of skills and/or talent, or an unexpected disaster. Being able to rise above the challenge however large is often the difference between success or failure.

On Thursday July 4th, IoD Cheshire will host a unique event at Chester Zoo, where we’ll hear incredible stories from businesses who have bounced back following devastating fires. The first speaker Jamie Christon is a National IoD Director of the Year winner and Chief Operating Officer of Chester Zoo. Jamie will discuss how the zoo team went above the call of duty to rescue animals before the arrival of fire crews during their terrible fire on December 15th last year, including CCTV footage which hasn't been released publicly. 

Describing an equally harrowing event, our second speaker Sales & Marketing Director of Boutique Hotels Group, Matthew Naylor will highlight the importance of team-cohesion as he tells the story of how the family business bounced back following a vicious arson attack at Peckforton Castle in June 2011 causing £5.4m in damage causing the hotel to close for several months.

Our third speaker is the CEO and owner of leading industrial engineering business DRB Group, Matt Bennett. Matt took over his father’s family business in 2015, following a seven-year tenure as Company Secretary. You’ll get a very real, unfiltered account of his enduring mental fortitude and sheer bloody-minded determination to restructure, rebuild and reinvigorate the internal culture and customer focus to grow the business.

Places for this event are limited and on a first come, first serve basis. Book your place today to avoid disappointment.

Key details

Date & time: 04 Jul 2019 08:00 - 11:30
Location: Chester Zoo, Chester
CPD Hours:

Prices from

0.00 GBP + VAT - Member
15.00 GBP + VAT - Non-Member

Event manager:
Miss Lauren Mullan
Contact phone:
0161 806 0890
Contact email:
08:00 Registration, networking and refreshments 

08:30 Welcome & Opening Remarks from and Claire Ebrey, IoD North West and Isle of Man Regional Director and Rob McKay, IoD Cheshire Chair

08:40 Presentation from Jamie Christon, Chief Operating Officer at Chester Zoo

08:50 Presentation from Caroline Sanger-Davies, Director of Marketing at Chester Zoo

09:00 Presentation from 
Matthew Naylor, Sales & Marketing Director at Peckforton Castle

09:15 Matt Bennett, CEO and Owner of DRB Group

09:30 Question and answer session

09:40 Closing remarks and brunch 

10:15 Networking and Zoo Tour

11:30 Event Closes 


Jamie Christon BA(Hons)
Chief Operating Officer
Chester Zoo

After graduating from Leicester University with a degree in politics, Jamie spent his first ten years working in core high street food and department store management with various management roles initially in the North West and then across the rest of the UK. In 2003, as UK regional airport dynamics changed, Jamie joined Manchester Airport Group, heading up commercial operations at East Midlands, Humberside and Bournemouth Airports. In 2007, he continued his career as Commercial Director and then latterly Managing Director of Exeter Airport in the South West where he managed the transition from local authority to private sector ownership. During that period, Jamie managed masterplanning, site development and helped improve commercial profitability.

More recently Jamie has been responsible for group on-board operations for Stena Line, one of Europe’s leading ferry operators during a period of rapid expansion and change. Jamie joined the Society in July 2013. He is responsible for business operations at what is the UKs number one zoo. With a turnover of over £35m and nearly 1,000 staff at peak, Jamie leads the team that makes Chester Zoo one of the most visited attractions in the UK.

Jamie is also director of the sub regional DMO, the Local Enterprise Partnership and is a Trustee of Chester Students Union.

Caroline Sanger-Davies
Director of Marketing
Chester Zoo

Caroline has had an extensive career in marketing, communications and fundraising within the arts, education, tourism and leisure sectors. Following five years as a freelance consultant, she joined Chester Zoo in 2012 as Head of Marketing, completed an MBA, and moved up to the newly created role of Director of Marketing, responsible for marketing, fundraising, PR and public affairs. Caroline has a particular interest in reputation management and brand, and is currently studying for a professional diploma in Public Affairs. 

Matt Bennett
CEO and Owner
DRB Group

Matt, son of Founder David Roy Bennett, had been involved in DRB Group as the company secretary since 2008, becoming more involved in the day-to-day running of the business as Vice Chairman and then Chairman, until he took over as CEO in 2015. Today, DRB Group design, manufacture and build components for a wide range of customers in the production, processing and heavy industrial sectors across North Wales and the North West and with over 120 skilled employees, they are known as a leading mid-size engineering employer in the region.

Matthew Naylor
Sales & Marketing Director
Peckforton Castle

After completing his BA in Business Studies in 2003 from Manchester Metropolitan University, Matthew Naylor knew that the last thing he wanted to do was work for the family business. Two years into a new start up cleaning business which his wife now owns and operates and a small baby, mortgage and big responsibilities, the realisation that he might have to do the unthinkable sank in. Twelve years later it was the best move he ever made. Today, Matthew is the Sales & Marketing Director of Boutique Hotels Group who own and operate three luxury hotels in Cheshire, namely Peckforton Castle, Nunsmere Hall and their most recent purchase Inglewood Manor. The group turns over £12.5m, is highly profitable and is at the beginning of an ambitious five year growth plan.


Set in 125 acres of award-winning zoological gardens, welcoming 1.9 million visitors a year.

We have over 15,000 animals at the zoo, but we help thousands more around the world through our conservation and education activities.

The zoo’s mission is to be a major force in conserving the living world. To this aim we currently care for more than 500 different species in the zoo - about half of which are endangered. Every effort goes into ensuring the highest standards of welfare and the best care is given to all our animals, from the tiny snails to the tall giraffes.

At each habitat there are unique ways of learning about the animals too, by reading, touching and smelling the information panels. By simply observing we can all learn so much more about the animals, their natural habitats and what makes them so special and worth conserving.

But our charitable work extends well beyond the zoo’s perimeter. At home and abroad, we support and conduct over 70 conservation projects and education around the world. We know not everyone can be as hands on as we are, so we’ve created Act for Wildlife, a conservation campaign that gives you the chance to get involved and make a real difference for wildlife conservation around the world.


Prices from

0.00 GBP + VAT - Member
15.00 GBP + VAT - Non-Member


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  • Chester Zoo
  • Oakfield House
  • Caughall Road
  • Chester
  • CH2 1LH

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