Burnley hotel boss appointed chair of top charity

The charity Business in the Community has appointed a new chair to lead its activities in Burnley.

Kerian BarnesKerian Barnes, general manager of the town’s Holiday Inn Express and regional manager for the hotel’s operators Starboard Hotels, will chair the Burnley Business Class cluster, a group of five schools which are partnered with five local businesses.

This year around 1,400 pupils in Burnley have taken part in business-led activities. Six years ago the town was the first in the country to set up the programme, which aims to improve students’ employability and academic achievement. There are now 66 clusters around the UK and two in Australia.

The Holiday Inn Express is partnered with Sir John Thursby Community College. Together they’ve twice staged highly successful events where pupils took over the running of the hotel for a day, doing real jobs after having passed a rigorous selection process.

Kerian says she’s thrilled at her appointment, not least because the whole programme began in Burnley. She said: “I’m very proud that something which was founded here has spread so far and wide. Students need to develop detailed knowledge of the world of work so that they can make career choices which are right for them. Partnering with local businesses is a great way to do that.”

Working closely with Clare Hutchinson, NW Regional Education Manager at BITC, Kerian will work on scaling up the impact of the programme on the children taking part, and will continue to encourage businesses to support their school by providing expertise, mentors and volunteers as well as inspirational experiences for pupils.

Clare Hutchinson said: “I’m delighted Kerian has stepped into the role of Cluster Chair. Over the last two years she has played a significant role in creating exciting opportunities for young people in Burnley to engage with the Holiday Inn Express. "She has also been a huge support in developing the Business Class programme at a national level, speaking at our annual symposium in London, inspiring other business leaders to step up their engagement with schools and taking part in a debate with fellow business leaders on our strategic direction. I welcome working closely with Kerian in the future and I am hugely grateful for her ongoing support."