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Appointment of a new Chair & Vice Chair for the RIA SME Group

2 May 2024 


The Railway Industry Association (RIA), the voice of the rail supply community, is pleased to announce the appointment of the new Chair and Vice Chair for the RIA SME Group; Catherine Leech, Managing Director at Anturas Consulting Ltd who takes the position of Chair, and Vice Chair, Mike Harmer, Chief of Strategic Operations at Belvoir Rail. Both come with excellent credentials and have over 40 years of combined experience in the sector.

Catherine Leech, incoming SME Chair, said: “I am delighted to be taking on the role of SME Group Chair. I’m looking forward to continuing the incredible work that Lucy and Paul have started in raising the profile and importance of SMEs in the rail industry. Thank you for your time, commitment, and drive over the last four years. We are all facing challenges and with Mike’s support, help and input I hope we can support SMEs overcome some of these challenges to build an even stronger SME community.”

Mike Harmer, incoming SME Vice Chair, said
: “I am truly honoured to step into the position of Vice Chair of the SME Group, working alongside Catherine. SMEs are pivotal in driving innovation and growth within the rail industry, and I am committed to helping them thrive and supporting their success in rail. We're building upon the strong foundation laid by Lucy and Paul and are eager to champion our members' needs, ensuring their interests are represented at every level of the UK Rail sector.”

Darren Caplan, RIA Chief Executive, stated: “We are delighted to welcome Catherine and Mike as Chair and Vice Chair of the SME Group. Their industry credentials and experience along with their exceptional leadership skills set the SME Group in good stead for the coming years. I have every confidence that Catherine and Mike will continue the work done by Lucy and Paul and will be a powerful voice for SMEs in rail as the industry goes through significant changes. We look forward to supporting them during their tenures.”

Lucy Prior, outgoing SME Chair, said: “I have been involved in the RIA SME group for four years, and have acted as Chair for two and a half of those years. In that time, we navigated Covid, learned how to run virtual events, and supported RIA SME members through events, representation, and lobbying activities. It’s as important as ever that the value of the SME is recognised, and that as a collective we are represented at every level and at every opportunity. I wish Catherine and Mike all the best for their tenure, and would like to pass on my gratitude to everyone that has supported Paul and I!”

Paul McSharry, outgoing SME Vice Chair, said: “It has been a privilege to represent the SME members of RIA and an honour to support Lucy, who has been an impressive, dedicated, and hard-working leader of the SME Group. I'm proud to have supported RIA over the last two years and I want to pay tribute to the full team at RIA for their support. I sincerely wish Cath and Mike all the very best in their new roles and we know the group is in safe hands. I have every confidence that they will continue to develop the SME agenda even further over the next four years.”

Notes to Editors
  1. About RIA: The Railway Industry Association (RIA) is the voice of the UK rail supply community. We help to grow a sustainable, high-performing, railway supply industry, and to export UK rail expertise and products. RIA has over 360 companies in membership in a sector that contributes £43 billion in economic growth and £14 billion in tax revenue each year, as well as employing 710,000 people. It is also a vital industry for the UK’s economic recovery, supporting green investment and jobs in towns and communities across the UK; for every £1 spent in rail, £2.50 is generated in the wider economy. RIA’s membership is active across the whole of railway supply, covering a diverse range of products and services and including both multi-national companies and SMEs (60% by number).
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