Ben Roberts, Chief Executive Officer at BFI

The Midlander who has risen from cinema usher to be one the leading figures in British film is a key speaker when a major networking organisation holds its first face-to-face meeting for 18 months.

Ben Roberts, who was born and raised in Coventry, first worked as an usher at the Showcase cinema in the city when he was a teenager and is now the CEO of the BFI (British Film Institute), the UK’s leading organisation for film and the moving image.

Roberts will be telling his career story at the first Coventry and Warwickshire Champions meeting on Friday, September 10 at Coventry Building Society Arena.

He will be joined by Dave Owen, a former Jaguar Land Rover apprentice who is now on the company’s global board, as well at Steve Hughes, CEO of the Coventry Building Society.

Wasps Group CEO Stephen Vaughan will also speak at the event along with Mind’s Karen Sturman, MHPP Mental Health Employment Liaison and Robbie Chandler, Mental Health Co-Ordinator at Sky Blues in the Community.

The Coventry and Warwickshire Champions is a business network operated through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership. Its last face-to-face meeting was in March 2020 and since then it has taken its sessions online and then as live streams.

Les Ratcliffe, chair of the Coventry and Warwickshire Place Board which oversees the Champions, said the response from Champions throughout the 18 months had ensured the continued success of the organisations.

“The Champions meetings are one of the main strands of the work we do, and we have been pleased that we have been able to keep the quality of the sessions during these times, and we are also grateful for the loyalty of the Champions,” he said.

“We hope we have been able to be a useful provider of information and having guests such as the vaccination minister Nadhim Zahawi and Andy Hardy – Chief Executive Officer of University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (UHCW) – as well as the senior officers of our local authorities, has kept everyone very much up to date with developments.

“The Champions meetings allow our network to spread the news of what is happening in Coventry and Warwickshire and to hear from some of the people from the patch who have succeeded at the very highest level.

“This is one of our strongest line-ups and both Ben and Dave have got great stories to tell about how they have risen through the ranks of their professions to become highly influential figures in their respective industries.

“While the threat of Covid is still very real, it will be really good for Champions to meet for the first time in 18 months and hopefully our meeting is another step on the journey back to normality.”