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This was a strange and difficult year for everyone, but we haven’t let it knock us off course

16th December 2020

At this time of year, it’s customary to reflect upon the events of the past 12 months, and while the national pandemic has disrupted all our lives, we haven’t let it dampen our desire or ability to get on.

This time last year I was appointed Thames Estuary Envoy and Chair of the Thames Estuary Growth Board. That was one of the proudest days of my life and since that day, I’ve been getting stuck in and meeting with hundreds of people who share our ambition to make this brilliant place even better.

One year on, we have launched our ambitious vision for the Estuary on the Thames itself aboard a branded Clipper amidst brilliant sunshine; we have held our hydrogen summit, which will catalyse a blueprint for a hydro-economy; and we have appointed a board of brilliant minds and talents to make great stuff happen. We use the strapline ‘in a good place’ in our campaigns and that’s exactly where we are as 2020 closes. In a brilliant place to move forward.

Thank you for being with us. Keep holding our hand. The adventure is going to get even better….

Here are just some of our highlights from 2020:

December 2019 – Kate Willard is appointed as the first Thames Estuary Envoy and Chair of Thames Estuary Growth Board. Kate, who has a successful track record delivering complex regeneration and infrastructure projects in the UK and Europe, is appointed to lead a vision to generate billions of pounds, create thousands of new jobs, improve transport and digital infrastructure, and deliver substantial housing in the Estuary.

February 2020 – Kate leads a trip along the River Thames accompanied by Estuary businesses and regional politicians. They begin planning a new future for the Estuary.

May 2020 – MSQ Partners are appointed to deliver communications support to The Thames Estuary. Their wide-ranging brief includes developing our brand, website, filming, photography and media support.

July 2020Private sector appointments to Thames Estuary Growth Board are made. Talents from industry, infrastructure, energy, the arts and law join our team. On their appointments, Kate said: “They have the drive and ambition to bring in new thinking. They are at the razor-sharp, cutting edge of business and are crystal clear about the Thames Estuary we want to create. Working as one unified voice, we will deliver the greenest and most productive Estuary in the world.”

July 2020 – “The Green Blue” – a blueprint for growth across the Estuary – is launched on a beautifully-branded Thames Clipper generating national media attention. Setting out plans for the next two years, but looking ahead to the next ten, the document describes a desire to increase freight and passengers on the river; to enable a hydrogen production, storage and fuelling infrastructure to support a shift to green vessels and land-based transport; and plans for the region to deliver upon the Government agenda of jobs, clean air, productivity, and international trade. There are currently around 30 existing projects in development across sectors including transport, infrastructure, leisure and culture, and the plan sets out how it will add value to those.

September 2020 – We launch the Estuary Visionaries campaign. The intention of the campaign is to recognise those businesses practising ‘good green growth’ in our region. One of our core ambitions is to promote and encourage responsible growth across the region and the campaign illustrates how enterprises large and small can play a part.

October 2020 – Kate is appointed OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. She is recognised for her contribution to the economy and transport. Commenting on the honour, Kate said: “This is such a wonderful honour and I still can’t quite believe it’s happened. Like really!”

October 2020 – The Thames Estuary will be applying to become one of 10 UK’s Freeports. The Thames Estuary Growth Board launches a set of six principles it wants recognised in that bid to create jobs, support local economies, drive investment and generate prosperity in the region alongside community benefit and environmental safeguards.

November 2020The Thames Estuary Hydrogen Summit takes place to explore how to catalyse a hydro-economy in the region. The event explored issues like demand for hydrogen, markets, uses and infrastructural needs. Industry experts and academics joined politicians and innovators to begin developing a plan.