A leading North East entrepreneurial membership organisation has strengthened its executive team with a series of high-profile appointments.

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum has welcomed John Waterworth, founder of Parkdean Resorts, and Dean Benson, CEO of Visualsoft, to its board.

John Waterworth co-founded Parkdean Resorts in 1999 and, under his leadership, grew it to become the UK’s largest holiday park company with a turnover in excess of £430m per year, during his tenure as CEO for the last 20 years.

John previously sat on the Forum’s board and re-joins following his retirement from Parkdean Resorts earlier this year.

John commented, “Since its founding in the early 2000s, the Forum has demonstrated the importance of supporting North East business leaders, who are creating jobs, driving growth and strengthening our regional economy, through it’s fantastic events calendar and mentoring programme. For me, the Forum is an invaluable source of inspiration, and I’m delighted to support the Forum’s vital work.”

Dean Benson has overseen the rapid growth of full-service digital agency and eCommerce platform Visualsoft, which he established in 1998. The company, while headquartered in Tees Valley, has offices throughout the UK as well as presence in Dubai, and has more than 1,000 clients nationwide.

Commenting on his appointment, Dean said, “I have been a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum for many years now so I am delighted to be joining the board. I have seen first-hand the vital part the Forum plays in helping to support the region’s business owners. Being an entrepreneur can often be lonely and the Forum provides access to an invaluable network of like-minded individuals.”

The pair join eight established North East entrepreneurs who sit on the Forum’s board, including James Robson MBE, Gill Courtney MBE, Graham Robb, Pamela Petty, Yvonne Bell, Fiona Raglan, Brendon Hayward, and David Nicholson.

Welcoming John and Dean, James Robson MBE, Chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said, “Our board of directors is a remarkable group of the region’s business leaders who through their advisement help to advance and strengthen the work of the Forum; to inspire North East entrepreneurs to grow their businesses faster, improving the local economy and creating more quality new jobs across the region.

“John and Dean are both well-respected figures within the North East business community, whose collective experience and proven track records of business growth and entrepreneurial talent make them welcome additions to the Entrepreneurs’ Forum’s board.”

While welcoming its newest additions, the Forum also acknowledges the contribution of Nigel Mills CBE, CEO of The Lakes Distillery, who has stepped down from the board having served on it for ten years – six as Chairman.

James Robson MBE, added, “I’d like to personally thank Nigel on behalf of the Forum for his vital role in the growth and development of the organisation over the last decade.

“He is a great champion and advocate for the Forum and has been instrumental in shaping it into the organisation that it is today. It has been a pleasure to work alongside him and we look forward to seeing him throughout the year at our upcoming events.”

The Entrepreneurs’ Forum represents more than 300 individual member companies, which have a combined turnover of more than £2.3 billion and in excess of 23,000 employees.