Former Sheffield Chamber of Commerce chief executive Chris Heaton has taken over as chairman of the 238-year-old Sheffield Assay Office from past Master Cutler Christopher Jewitt.
Mr Heaton is a chartered accountant who has worked as a managing director, chief executive and finance director for a variety of companies in a range of sectors.
He spearheaded a major reorganisation of Sheffield Chamber of Commerce in the 1990s and joined the Assay Office’s executive in 2008, becoming one of its Guardians the following year. Mr Heaton said: “The Office is a very modern organisation for one of 238 years, and has moved into a variety of avenues to develop with the times.
“The industry is very much a changing environment, but the staff here have shown that they can provide innovative solutions to any issues which arise that the Office is in a position to help with.”
Assay Master Ashley Carson said, “Chris has done some great work in the three years since he has been here.
“His expertise and previous experience in assisting businesses through difficult economic times – not only for themselves, but for their respective industries – will prove invaluable as we look to develop the business in new and exciting fields.”
Mr Heaton’s appointment comes as the Assay Office seeks other markets for its services in the face of the rising price of gold and other precious metals and the fact that people are buying fewer items of jewellery.
The 3rd Earl of Effingham became the first chairman of the Sheffield Assay Office after it was founded in 1773, and led its 30-strong governing body, known as the ‘Guardians of the Standard of Wrought Plate in the Town of Sheffield.’ The Guardians could include no more than ten silversmiths, to ensure that the Office was an impartial and independent service run for the benefit of the consumer, rather than the manufacturer – an ethos it maintains to this day.