Policy & Representation

Windsor Debates 2020

Thank you to all the hosts, facilitators, speakers and panellists who joined us throughout the week, for their valuable input to the Debates.

Windsor Debates has evolved.  Historically a one-day event, this year the Debates took place over a full week, using digital platforms and covering a wide array of topics and subjects.

The theme was ‘Restart, Rebuild, Renew – the new normal and the economic recovery’ and we had 9 sessions in total, covering the themes of technology, transport, mental health and the scientific perspective. We discussed the future of trade with the USA, held an MP’s roundtable and held a conversational session with Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson, US Ambassador to the UK.

Our CEO, Paul Britton, closed the week at St George’s House in Windsor Castle and you can read his closing statement here 

View the September 2020 Windsor Debates programme.

Monday 21st September

14.00-15.30 - Introduction and Scene Setting for the week’s Windsor Debates with a Keynote Address

Our CEO Paul Britton and Group President Bill Gornall-King will open the first virtual Windsor Debates session. We are delighted to welcome as our facilitator for this session Iain Anderson, Executive Chairman of Cicero.

We look forward to hearing from Baroness Ruby McGregor-Smith CBE, President of the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), who will highlight the role of the BCC in supporting business throughout the pandemic.

We will also hear from Hugh Milward, Senior Director at Microsoft, on ‘The Future of Work’ - how the working environment has been changed by the pandemic, whether these changes are likely to persist in the future, and the role of technology in supporting us through them.

Tuesday 22nd September

09:30 – 11.00 - Scientific Perspective

Join us as we welcome a panel of speakers including Dr Katharina Hauck, Reader in Health Economics at the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Imperial College, Professor James Naismith, Director, Rosalind Franklin Institute and Jonathan Haskel,  Professor of Economics at Imperial Business School and External Member of the Monetary Policy Committee.

Facilitated by Laura Holland, Director of Communications and Culture, Rosalind Franklin Institute, this session will provide an opportunity for attendees to hear the detail behind the tremendous contributions being made by some of the region’s centres of excellence in the Life Sciences sector - including the Rosalind Franklin Institute and Imperial College London - to support the Government’s response to COVID-19.

The session will also cover the practicalities involved in the rapid response to the current pandemic,  the commercialisation (with particular reference to vaccines) and the economics (with specific mention of the cost effectiveness of different testing strategies) of the science, and the practical considerations necessary in order to be prepared for future epidemics.

14.00-15.30 - The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health

Following TVCC’s commitment in its Business Manifesto 2020 to developing a Mental Health Fitness Charter, this session will be a further step in the process of creating a Thames Valley Mental Wellbeing Community.

The session will focus on several different aspects of mental health, including the impact of COVID-19 on relationships; self-medication and the resulting impact on public health; and the question of whether to adapt employee wellbeing programmes in light of COVID-19.

Wednesday 23rd September

09.30-11.15  Sector Focus – Technology 

During this session, we will be focusing on the theme of ‘Tech for Good and Tech for Recovery, post COVID-19’. Topics to be covered will include the short-medium and longer term priorities associated with:

Recalibration of work and how 5G can best be understood and used to ‘knit together’ the digital fabric

How technology can and will be driving the economic recovery in resilient sectors and how selected companies are benefiting from and driving recovery through tech-driven services

Future of work (including securing talent and skills)

We look forward to welcoming keynote speakers, Simon Haston, CTIO: Regions and Devolved Government at BT and Sarah Mullen, Director, People and Organisation, PwC, and panellists, Zeki Turedi, CTO for Europe, Middle East & Africa at Crowdstrike, Ozgur Tohumcu, CEO at Oxbotica, Ed Robinson, President and co-founder of Stash,  Andrew Lever, Director, Policy and Innovation at Carbon Trust and Alfonso Juan Álvarez Villamarín, Managing Director at Cellnex UK

This session will be chaired by Phil Smith CBE, Former CEO and Chair, UK and Ireland, Cisco

15.30-17.00 - Future of Trade with the USA

This session will  offer an opportunity to hear at first hand an update on trade with the USA from Minister for International Trade, Ranil Jayawardena and Jeffrey J Schott, Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics and former Co-Chair of the Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee for the US Trade Representative.

Facilitated by Anne-Marie Martin, Director Global Business Networks, British Chambers of Commerce, speakers will be joined by a panel of senior representatives of businesses from across the Thames Valley including Anne White, Head of International Trade and Compliance, TVCC, Alex Tatham, MD, Westcoast, Andy Lobo, MD, Norbar Torque Tools Ltd and Jarl Severn, MD, Owen Mumford Ltd.

Thursday 24th September

08.30-10.00 - Future of Travel (imminent and medium-term)

At this session, chaired by Ruth Bagley, Director, Ardynt Consulting Ltd, we will welcome John Holland-Kaye, CEO, Heathrow, Ian Howells, Senior Vice President, Honda Motor Europe Ltd, Chris Hazeel, Vice President, United Kingdom and Northern Europe, Collins Aerospace and Mark Hopwood, Managing Director, South Western Railway (interim role before returning to his role as Managing Director, Great Western Railway), as our keynote speakers.

The future of travel will be of huge significance to our economy post-COVID-19 and has been a strong area of focus during many of TVCC’s recent policy events. This session will support our continued commitment (outlined in our Business Manifesto 2020) to promote the need for a comprehensive and resilient infrastructure network that will support the region’s future and sustainable economic growth.

14.00-15.30 - Political Focus – MPs’ Roundtable

During this session, facilitated by Hugh Milward, Senior Director at Microsoft, attendees will hear from a number of our local Members of Parliament, including James Sunderland, MP for Bracknell, Laura Farris, MP for Newbury, Joy Morrissey, MP for Beaconsfield and Cllr Steven Broadbent, Cllr for Greater Hughenden, Ridgeway East, Buckinghamshire Council.

The discussion will be framed around the themes of: Global Britain, the future of the UK/Thames Valley economy post-COVID-19 and the Government’s levelling up agenda with reference to the Thames Valley region.

16.00-16.45 - In Conversation with Ambassador Robert Wood Johnson, US Ambassador to the UK.

Join us as we welcome Ambassador Woody Johnson for a discussion on the future of Inward Investment with the USA.

Friday 25th September

09:30-11.00 – Closing Session

In our final session of the week, facilitated by Iain Anderson, Executive Chairman at Cicero, Paul Britton, our CEO and Bill Gornall-King, our Group President, will reflect on the outcomes of the week’s debates. We are also pleased to confirm that Adam Marshall, Director General of the BCC, will be joining us to offer a BCC perspective on the week and on the work which lies ahead to support the UK and the Thames Valley’s business community as we move towards the ‘new normal’.

We look forward to hearing observations from keynote speaker, Joe Mayes, Government Reporter at Bloomberg News, on our political stance throughout COVID-19, as he reflects on the UK/global economic recovery and what the key issues will be.

Our final speaker will be Mark Gregory, Chief Economist at EY, who will be looking at the threats and opportunities presented by the pandemic, and the impact on the Government’s levelling up agenda, focusing on three key topics -  Digital Economy, Sustainability and Deglobalisation.


As the Chamber’s flagship event, Windsor Debates formulates clear and decisive messages that help shape and frame TVCC’s strategic policy direction and wider programme activity. Topical subjects provide opportunity for thought-provoking, insightful discussion to ensure we continue in our role as the leading voice in presenting the business case for the Thames Valley into Government, senior officials and key stakeholders representing the region. This biannual, invitation only event is held in the historic setting of Vicars’ Hall, Windsor Castle. We apply the spirit of Chatham House rules to foster a lively and interesting debate. 

Topics previously covered include: ‘Beyond BREXIT, Sectors and Talent’ and ‘What Leadership is required to progress the Thames Valley into the 21st Century?’

At one of our previous Windsor Debate’s, on the topic of ‘Strengthening the workforce in the Thames Valley – Mental health, diversity and inclusion in the workplace’, we were pleased to welcome former Prime Minister, The Rt Hon Theresa May MP, as our keynote dinner speaker.  In her Foreword to the Chamber’s Business Manifesto 2020, in which this Windsor Debates topic was introduced as one of the Chamber’s key priorities, Mrs May said:

“It was a privilege to speak at the Chamber’s recent 27th Windsor Debates – ‘Strengthening the workforce in the Thames Valley – Mental health, diversity and inclusion in the workplace’. An awakening for the Chamber, I commended their leadership for providing an opportunity to showcase great work and initiatives taking place and its commitment to help make a difference and champion this cause in 2020. A focus on mental health, fitness and diversity and inclusion in the workplace among our key Business Manifesto priorities for 2020.”
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
“This was a fantastic event … and what a privilege to be part of it” . Thank you for having me be part of this wonderful day – I learned a lot from others and wonderful speech by Theresa May – a wonderful job”. 
Clare Lyons-Collins, NHS Improvement

“The event was superb! Very well run with a great upbeat tempo and vibe in the room. I also got a great deal from the speakers you had…one of the most engaging seminars I’ve been to in years…”.
Karl Simons, Thames Water


“May I congratulate you all on your part in creating and delivering what was undoubtedly the best ever Windsor Debates held by the Chamber and I have attended almost all of them. The best in every respect, not only as regards to the engagement of the audience but the excited buzz in the room throughout the day and during the evening”.   
Bill Gornall-King, Boyes Turner