THE chief executive of PD Ports plc has agreed to become full-time chairman of Tees Valley Regeneration, after being given the all-clear from cancer.

Graham Roberts, who stepped into the breach as temporary chairman when TVR's previous chairman, Peter Middleton, left for family reasons, had reasons of his own for not being able to take on the role long-term.

Mr Roberts, chief executive of PD, which owns PD Teesport, had at the time just been diagnosed with cancer and faced a gruelling course of treatment and chemotherapy.

But a relieved Mr Roberts has been given the all-clear and is able to take on the role on a more permanent basis.

Mr Roberts, who joined PD Ports plc in 2002, was previously chief executive of London Luton airport, and before that served on the board of NFC plc, now Exel plc, for eight years.

In 2003 he was named Tees Valley Business Executive of the year for his work at PD Ports.

Tees Valley Regeneration's chief executive, Joe Docherty, said "It's fantastic news that Graham has been given the all-clear - it is a huge relief to his family and friends - and to me personally - this has worked out very well."

During the search for a new chairman Tees Valley Regeneration also found that one of the country's top businessmen was interested in being part of the changing face of the Tees Valley.

David Salkeld, 49, who is originally from Teesside, has announced he is stepping down as chief executive of Grampian Country Food Group - the UK's leading food firm.

With a turnover of £2.5bn and 25,000 staff, Mr Salkeld's experience will be invaluable to Tees Valley Regeneration.

He is also the longest serving non-executive board director of Kelda PLC, the FTSE 100 company that owns Yorkshire Water.

He will now join the board of Tees Valley Regeneration and play an increasing role in the board's activities.

Mr Docherty said: "This is a real coup. I am absolutely delighted that we had added some one with David's calibre to our already strong board.

Mr Salkeld was brought up on Teesside. His parents still live in Stockton and he attended Middlesbrough High School.