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CIH Presidency for Bromford’s Helen

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Bromford executive director Helen Collins has officially taken up the role of Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) president at the Housing 2011 conference in Harrogate.

Helen took over from outgoing president Paddy Gray, who kicked off the annual conference yesterday (Tuesday 21 June) with what Helen described as "a great opening speech outlining all the big challenges that face our sector".

The handover came at the CIH annual meeting last night and Helen is looking forward to her six-month presidency, followed by a term chairing the organisation's new governing body for 2012.

"These are exciting times for the CIH and the housing sector as a whole - and we had some lively, stimulating debates yesterday which reflect that fact," said Helen as she prepared for her first full working day as president.

"The housing minister, Grant Shapps, arrives here today and we look forward to hearing what he has to say. It will be a great chance to hear his current thinking on the big issues that face us all."

No session was livelier yesterday than the one chaired by Helen on the Localism Bill with three councillors and an official from the Department for Communities and Local Government all putting across their views. The last speaker - Councillor Ann O'Byrne from Liverpool - made the headlines when she accused the government of not believing in localism following a ruling to put a stop on the decision to knock down 200 homes in a rundown part of her city.

Helen has worked in housing for more than 20 years, holding a number of senior roles in the housing association, house building and housing consultancy sectors. She joined Bromford in 2006 as executive director for development, and is responsible for delivering the group's development, construction and sales programmes.

A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing, she serves as trustee and was vice-president until this week.

In her spare time, Helen enjoys spending time with her family and friends and, energy permitting, walking and running to keep fit.

Caption: New president Helen Collins celebrating with our Rising Star Rishi Spolia