Small business group celebrates big contributions of two Essex volunteers

Small business group celebrates big contributions of two Essex volunteers

Federation of Small Businesses, (FSB), is not only marking 50 years of supporting small business owners and the self-employed in 2024, but it is celebrating the achievements of two long serving members from Essex.

David Bell from Braintree has been a member for 18 years and David Barnes from Basildon has been a member for 25 years. Together, they have put in over 30 years of volunteering their time for FSB in Essex.

Ann Scott, Essex Development Manager at FSB, says: “The UK has 5.5 million small businesses, which employ 16.7 million people. They really are at the heart of our communities and the backbone of our economy.

“Our passionate volunteers are a key part of FSB giving a powerful and authentic voice when it comes to the needs, experiences, and aspirations of hard-working entrepreneurs right across the UK.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed working alongside David and David, who help to make FSB such an effective campaigning and business support organisation”.

The duo run their own businesses alongside volunteering their time at FSB – David Bell as Regional Chair and David Barnes as Essex Area Lead, alongside fellow member and volunteer of 3 years, Mike Russell.

They are all regular features at the various FSB networking events, exploring with attendees how FSB can support their small business, with David Bell often hosting the monthly Braintree networking event. With his Entrepreneur in Residence role at Anglia Ruskin University, he is also a great connector and mentor for Essex FSB members.

With a passion for policy, David Barnes frequently gets involved in FSB’s local lobbying work; most notably being key to getting the tollbooths removed at the Dartford Crossing to ensure a smoother transition for local businesses.

Simona Marr, FSB Regional Development Manager for the East of England and Southeast, worked alongside both Davids when she was the Essex Development Manager.

She says: “During this very special 50th anniversary year for FSB, we are delighted to celebrate two of FSB’s local heroes, who have used their unique qualities to tirelessly support businesses. Over the years we have seen both Davids work in a variety of volunteering capacities with FSB with one outcome always in mind – to help local businesses.

“Their continual efforts to fly the flag for FSB by hosting networking events and MP roundtables, creating and inspiring change though campaigning and providing direct support to SMEs is commendable.

“During the Covid 19 pandemic, we were incredibly grateful for them both. David Bell for leading the way with technological change for businesses and for the wisdom, advice, and tenacity of David Barnes during a time that was extremely difficult for businesses, members and staff alike.

“They both continued to provide support and positivity to SMEs always going the extra mile for fellow business owners. We would like to extend a huge thank you to both of them. We simply couldn’t do it without them!”

The pair were thanked for their valuable contribution at the recent FSB Essex Members Only 50-Year Anniversary Dinner, hosted by FSB member The House by Hilly Gant.

If you would like to make a difference and volunteer your time at FSB, please contact Ann Scott on