New chair of Western Gateway Partnership announced

A new chair of the Western Gateway Partnership has been unveiled.

Sarah Williams-Gardener, the former chief executive of FinTech Wales, has been appointed chair of the influential organisation.

As chief executive for Fintech Wales Sarah was responsible for championing industry to create new opportunities for the fintech in Wales and the UK.

As a co-founding member of the innovative Starling Bank, which remains the first British bank to be founded by a woman, and former director for government affairs for IBM UK, she brings significant experience of working across governments, industry, and new start-ups to the role.

The partnership brings together business and academia alongside 28 local authorities and two governments from across South Wales and Western England to create economic growth and reach net zero.

To date, the partnership has spearheaded a vision for a better rail network for the area, created the UK’s first Hydrogen Ecosystem, brought in investment into nuclear, and launched an independent commission to explore the potential for a world leading tidal project in the Severn Estuary.

Sarah said: “I am really excited to be able to take this opportunity of becoming chair of the Western Gateway. Collaboration is key to truly decarbonising and reaching those vital net zero targets. Our region is in a unique position due to its geography and rich industrial heritage, and has huge potential to deliver innovative communities, highly skilled work-force and world leading companies, not just regionally, but for the whole of the UK.

“A lot has already been achieved here, but there is still so much to do and together, I am ready to engage and work with the Governments in England and Wales to help drive efforts to reach net zero and create new jobs and economic growth.  I’d like to thank the area’s business and political leaders with entrusting me with this vital role and look forward to working with them to achieve more for our communities.”

Jane Mudd, Vice Chair for the Western Gateway Partnership, said: “I am so glad to welcome Sarah as Chair of our partnership.

“With businesses, academia and a cross party group of local leaders, we are already working together at scale to attract the investment we need to achieve our ambitions for the area.

“I’d like to thank Katherine Bennett CBE who has been at the helm driving our work as chair for the last five years.  She has put incredible effort in to getting our partnership off to a flying start and I wish her every success in the future.”

The former chair of the Western Gateway, Katherine Bennett CBE, stepped down at the end of her term in office in December 2023 having been chair since 2019.  Following a competitive recruitment process, the Western Gateway Partnership Board appointed Sarah as her successor on 29th January 2024.