A FORMER senior executive with Mars Incorporated and the first woman of the Board of the Welsh Rugby Union is the new president of the London-based Montgomeryshire Society.

Aileen Richards was installed as president in a reception at the Grosvenor Chapel in Mayfair, London, by Michael Gibbon, a former president.

The county of Montgomeryshire has special meaning for her. Her late father Stephen Richards, a former society president, grew up between Llanwnog and Carno. She herself grew up in Cardiff but spent all her summers in the county.

A graduate of Surrey University, where she studied Business and Tourism Management, Aileen joined Mars in 1985 and in a 30 year career with the company, worked in a number of senior roles in Britain, Belgium and the USA, where she and her family lived in Washington from 2008 to 2015.

In January 2012 she became executive vice president of Mars, responsible for the human resources strategy of the company’s 80,000 associates. She retired in 2015, the year in which she also joined the WRU, where she is an independent non-executive director.

In the reception speech, she said her family had a long tradition with Montgomeryshire, where she spent most of her summers and it "never seemed to rain once". She was also deeply honoured to be president.

She also highlighted in her speech the society’s events for the year, which include a special cabaret evening at the Greenberry Café in Regent’s Park on October 20, the June Gruffydd Memorial lecture on February 26 and the annual dinner at the Oxford and Cambridge Club in Pall Mall on April 12, where the guest speaker will be the WRU chairman Gareth Davies.