Our chat with rugby legend, HA Patron and all round top bloke, Phil Vickery

Phil Vickery MBE DL, former rugby international and winner of Celebrity Masterchef is HA’s newest Patron. Phil will be joining hundreds of other supporters in the upcoming Cotswold Cycle Challenge which takes place on Monday 10th June  from the stunning Calcot.

We caught up with him to talk food, cycling and how to get motivated.

Phil with HA’s IT Director Neslihan at last year’s event

You were introduced to Hospitality Action by Creed Foodservice, tell us a bit about your role there.

I’ve been a non-exec director since 2017, Creed’s values and positioning are a great natural fit with my personal interest in identifying the beliefs and characteristics that make us all so different and enable us to achieve our ambitions, however big or small. The partnership is built around a shared commitment to achieving more by believing in yourself. For Creed, that means being far more than just a foodservice wholesaler, it aims to celebrate the human values at the heart of the business that are encapsulated by the company’s motto, ‘Believe in More’.

John Torode said of you ‘Phil loves to cook to make people smile’. What made you fall in love with food after a successful rugby career?

I’ve always had an interest in the food industry, going back to my family and farming so it wasn’t a great surprise I was drawn to it.

During my rugby career it was about knowledge and learning about health, nutrition and diet. Using this to be a successful sportsman was very important. When Masterchef came up I didn’t go on the show to think I was going to win it, I was just really interested in it. I kept thinking, “don’t get knocked out first!”

It sounds gushy but I fell in love with food – not that I ever fell out of love with food, I’ve always enjoyed food, but when surrounded by people who share the same interest and care, enthusiasm, passion. It is all about talking about and being around food.

What attracted you to get involved with Hospitality Action?

I’ve seen both sides of it. As a Patron of HA, I am very lucky. We go to events that are catered for with amazing food. It comes out, well presented, hot food, lots of flavours and we don’t really think where it comes from or the work it takes making it look so good.

But I know from being involved behind the scenes and spending time preparing, understanding the pressures of preparation etc. just how hard it can be. I think the hospitality industry is taken a little bit for granted. We need to think a little more about what we are demanding; we want good food, we want it on time etc, we want it perfect, but remember – there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes.

What are the similarities between a professional kitchen and professional sport?

It’s all about camaraderie and team work. I recently spent time in Port Issac at Nathan Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen. I saw how the team had a level of professionalism and detail unlike any other, their work ethic and approach was very similar to those that have to be present to succeed in sport. But funnily enough it works both ways, I was recently with the Raging Bull team in Oxford Street, they are all asking questions about food and we just had a great time sharing information and recipe ideas.

Phil and his Creed Foodservice team

Tell us about your transition from Rugby to riding a bike?

 I’ve always ridden a bike. In rugby, more like a static bike for training but also took out a road bike often so it was a natural progression. Plus it’s a non-impact sport so it’s good for my old joints.

 Where and how often do you ride?

The Cotswolds is a brilliant place to ride with lots of open space, I don’t get to ride as much as I’d like all year around, but I’m training hard for the Cotswold ride in June.

What else do you do to relax?

Exercise & cooking. I’m certainly not a chef, I’m a cook. I love time spent with friends, family, events etc. all coming together over food.

Which route are you taking on for the Cotswold ride and what do you think your time will be?

The 40-mile route I’m not going to commit to a time but it will be faster than last year, I have trained more and feel prepared. Plus the Creed gang will work as a team.

How do you get and keep the motivation to train for an event?

The main motivational requirement is not the event itself, it is getting to the event. For example; the hardest bit about training this morning wasn’t the training I did, it was the drive there! Pushing yourself to get out and do it. Once you’re there, it is a team spirit and we’re all part of it. The motivation is needed to get there and know you are going to try your hardest and finish the cycle.

What’s your favourite post-ride meal?

After the cycle last year we went to a lovely Argentinian grill with burgers at Calcot – that was delicious.

You can join Phil, the Creed Foodservice team and hundreds more hospitality friends at Le Tour De Cuisine Cotswold Cycle Challenge at Calcot on Monday 10th June To find out more and get involved click here or email Maria Carter mcarter@hospitalityaction.org.uk for further information.

In from the cold – our winter fuel campaign round-up

Each year HA gives thousands of pounds in winter fuel grants and this season saw particularly high demand. Grants are made to Golden Friends and people of working age in financial hardship of working age. Jo Raine from our Grants Team takes up the story…..

“Government figures show that around 2.5 million households in the UK cannot afford to heat their homes to an adequate temperature. Fuel poverty is caused by low incomes, high energy prices and energy inefficient housing.

Research published last year revealed  that fuel poverty is directly linked to more than 3,000 deaths a year . Beyond the terrible scale of cold-related deaths, people experiencing fuel poverty have an increased risk of health issues such as cardiovascular and respiratory problems. Living in a cold home can also impact on mental health and social isolation.

We are delighted that Hospitality Action’s Winter Fuel Grant programme, which is kindly sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Innholders, has helped more than 300 households on low incomes to heat their homes this winter.  Each household has benefited from a one-off grant of £150 towards their winter fuel bills.

This year we have awarded in excess of £45,000 in Winter Fuel Grants. Over two-thirds of recipients are members of our Golden Friends Scheme for retirees from the hospitality industry. However, nearly a third of our Winter Fuel Grants have been awarded to people currently working in the industry, demonstrating that many households in employment are also struggling to pay their bills.

Nearly 80% of those we have helped say that that if it wasn’t for our grant they would have gone without heating in certain rooms, and 45% say that in order to pay their fuel bills they would have had to forego other essentials including food.

Comments from grant recipients illustrate the broader impact of fuel poverty on physical and mental health:

Without your help I would be so cold which makes my Chronic Fatigue Syndrome worse – which ends up making my depression worse with worry.

Thank you very much. If it gets too cold I stay in bed till noon and back at 7.30

Thank you so much. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to use more gas and keep warm instead of being cold with extra clothes and blankets.

To know that I can have the heating on for longer each day is one less thing to worry about.

Thank you for your grant towards my winter fuel bill…I know if I can be warm I can be healthy.

With this grant I can let my grandchildren come and see me – usually my flat is too cold for them.

From these comments and all the other feedback we receive, the message couldn’t be clearer.  Help towards winter fuel costs is beneficial in so many ways to those who would otherwise be struggling through the colder months.”

Join the ranks of Jason Atherton and Tom Kerridge this summer

Over the last few weeks we have been overwhelmed with support for Social Sunday 2019 as operators across the UK have mobilised to help their industry colleagues in need. But we still need more businesses to join in and fundraise for us this summer on Sunday 7th July.

When you do you’ll be in good company; taking your place alongside Principal Patron Jason Atherton, Tom Kerridge, and Tom Kitchin to name but a few. We are proud to be supported by operators large and small from all corners of the country, from national brands like Park Plaza Hotels to independent operators including The Working Boat pub in Cornwall, Bourgee in Norwich and The Freemasons at Wiswell in Lancashire.

Tom Kerridge calls upon the industry to support Social Sunday

Here are our top five Social Sunday fundraising ideas:

  1. Host a big-name chef from another part of the country to run a pop-up in your property.
  2. Create a special dish, cocktail or even menu to showcase your culinary innovations and excite customers.
  3. Add just £1 to diners’ bills for the first week of July (or even the whole month). You’ll be amazed just how much can build up.
  4. Open up for a special Sunday lunch service. After all, it’s how Jason Atherton came up with Social Sunday in the first place.
  5. Engage your suppliers. Ask your local butcher or veg supplier to provide produce free of charge for Social Sunday and pass the saving to HA. It’s a great way for your suppliers to show their commitment to the industry and to strengthen relationships.

No matter what you do your donation could help us support a family facing financial hardship due to injury, relationship breakdown or mental health problems. We provide practical solutions to everyday problems to keep families together and help people back on their feet quickly and with dignity. You could be closer to somebody we’ve helped than you realise.

To find out more visit our website and get in touch to tell us what you’re planning.

We look forward to hearing from you

The Real Downton Abbey

Hospitality Action is offering supporters the exclusive opportunity to explore the opulent corridors and rooms made famous by award-winning TV period drama Downton Abbey. Guests will get to relive the drama from the popular TV show, walking through the very rooms where Hugh Bonneville’s character Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, his aristocratic family and their servants lived in the early 20th century.

Highclere Castle is a stunning country house set within a 5,000-acre estate in Hampshire and is the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. In addition to being the main filming location for Downton Abbey, Highclere was a filming location for the British comedy series Jeeves and Wooster, which starred comedians Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.

Prior to the tour, guests will enjoy a Taittinger Champagne reception, kindly sponsored by Hatch Mansfield  followed by a fabulous three course lunch with carefully selected wines, kindly donated by Chapel Down in the Californian Suite at The Vineyard at Stockcross, a Relais & Châteaux 5 star hotel and spa. The hotel is renowned for its impeccable service, 3 AA Rosette restaurant and award-winning 30,000 bottle wine cellar. Guests will then have the opportunity to explore the castle and the grounds at their leisure, including the Egyptian Exhibition, before rounding off the day with a delicious afternoon tea back at The Vineyard.

We’re just delighted The Vineyard is hosting this event once again for us so we can offer our supporters the chance to visit Highclere Castle this spring. This exclusive afternoon is sure to appeal to all and will raise much-needed funds and awareness of our work – it’s set to be a fantastic day!

This event is popular with our supporters in the South West and guests willingly travel some distance to attend this fundraiser. With fabulous raffle prizes and a live auction to get you excited, the day is a real treat.

The event will be held on Monday 8th April, tickets are priced at £105 and include coach transfers between The Vineyard at Stockcross and Highclere Castle.

To book online visit: www.hospitalityaction.org.uk/events . Early booking is recommended, as places are limited.

To find out more contact Maria on 020 3004 5516 or mcarter@hospitalityaction.org.uk .

No ordinary quiz night

Calling all Agatha Quiztie’s and Quiz Akabusi’s: the Hospitality Action Big Fat Quiz makes a comeback this spring!

Have you got what it takes to be crowned our 2019 Quiz champion?

Taking place on Monday 20th May at the London Hilton on Park Lane and hosted by 90’s icon Pat Sharp, this will be a quiz night like no other. Last year saw over 500 brainboxes battle it out from companies including Coca-Cola, BaxterStorey, The Caterer, The Goring and Unilever Food Solutions. A staggering £85,000 was raised and, with your help, we want to raise even more this time round.

Our Big Fat Quiz, supported by Bidfood, is the perfect evening to network, entertain colleagues, treat your team and most importantly, show off just how smart you are! Of course, as a HA event you can expect more than a bowl of chips and a warm beer, all guests will enjoy a drinks reception, delicious three course meal with wine and a goody bag. Tickets are £140 each or £1,300 for a table of 10 and the funds raised will go towards helping those most in need across the hospitality industry. There will also be a live auction hosted by the legendary Brian Turner CBE with many exclusive items up for grabs.

If you think you’ve got what it takes to be our 2019 quiz champion simply send me an email: gvittiglio@hospitalityaction.org.uk or give me a call: 020 3004 5504 or and book yourself in to the biggest night in town!

Mental Health First Aider, an important role in every business

Following last week’s #timetotalkday which encouraged people to talk about mental health in their personal and professional life, we are proud to announce that we have our own mental health first aider at Hospitality Action. Here, newly-qualified MHFA Jo Raine, tells us a bit about her new role.

Global research indicates that one person in four will experience some form of mental health issue in the course of a year. Anxiety, depression and substance use disorders are the most common mental health illnesses in the UK. Throughout the course of any person’s life it is highly likely they will either develop mental ill health themselves or have a friend or relative who does. Yet the long-standing stigma around mental illness means that many people have a limited understanding of mental health issues and fail to seek the support they need.

Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an internationally recognised education and training programme. The aim of the programme is to extend the concept of first aid training to include mental health issues so that help can be offered to a person developing a mental health issue, experiencing the worsening of an existing mental health issue or in a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received or until the crisis appears to have been resolved.

When Hospitality Action decided to introduce a Mental Health First Aider to our office, I was delighted to be given the opportunity to train for the role. Having completed the two–day course to become a certified mental health first aider I now feel confident that I can recognise many of the signs and symptoms of common mental health illnesses and could effectively guide a colleague to appropriate support.

We learnt how to recognise the signs that someone may be experiencing a mental health issue. The course covered some challenging areas, such as myth-busting common misconceptions about suicide and self-harm, and there was plenty of time for questions and discussion of the role of mental first aid when someone is undergoing a crisis.

The training covers how to provide non-judgemental support and reassurance to a person who is experiencing a mental health issue and guide them to seek the professional support they may need to recover. It also touched on issues such as providing Mental Health First Aid to someone from a different cultural background, which is more likely to occur in the workplace than when supporting family and friends.

Independent research and evaluation shows that taking part in a Mental Health First Aid course raises awareness of mental illnesses, encourages early intervention to aid recovery, increases confidence in dealing with mental illnesses and reduces stigma. Thanks to the development of training courses like the one I went on, employers now have an opportunity to address ignorance about mental health in the workplace and help their employees to access appropriate support.

Happy and healthy staff are more likely to perform well, have good attendance levels, interact well with colleagues and make a valuable contribution to the workplace. Investing in a Mental Health First Aider is one important way in which employers can promote positive mental health in the workplace, for the benefit of all of us.

Our Employee Assistance Programme provides operators with access to a range of support services and counselling, to find out more contact Camilla Woods.

Saddle up and come along for the ride

 

Hospitality Action is delighted to launch its fifth annual Le Tour de Cuisine – Cotswold Cycle Challenge on Monday 10th June, kindly sponsored by Sky and The Calcot Collection.

Team Sky with their medals

You will be astounded to learn that since 2015 when it first launched, the Cotswold Cycle Challenge has raised a staggering £220,000 for the charity. If you are a past participant, thank you so much for your contribution, it’s a tremendous success!

Hotels, restaurants, caterers, suppliers and hospitality businesses from the South West came together to celebrate our wonderful industry and raise much needed funds for their favorite charity. It is such a great day out: team building, networking, getting fit, coming together and having fun, all for a good cause. See here a few of the participating companies over the years.

Team Gold Key Media
Team Creed

 

 

 

 

 

Following tradition, there will be four cycle routes to choose from, which will all take in the spectacular North Cotswold countryside and will start and finish at charming Calcot.

The short ride (20 miles) is perfect for those who fancy a leisurely cycle; for those who are up for more of a challenge, there are two mid-routes to choose from (40 and 60 miles); and if these are not tough enough, then the long route (100 miles) might be more to your flavour!

We have improved all the routes again this year, staying away from the tough hills and the busy roads, making sure that cyclists of all abilities and ambition can take part and still enjoy the ride. Along the way, there will be feeding stations at Whatley Manor, The Manor at Castle Combe and at the Village Hall in Barnsley, which will offer an array of delicious delights kindly arranged by local hotels. At the finishing line at Calcot, cyclists will once again be able to enjoy a complimentary glass of Taittinger Champagne, kindly sponsored by Hatch Mansfield, a free leg massage, BBQ to celebrate their success including beverages and of course a well –deserved medal to celebrate your success.

The registration fee is £40, with a minimum of £100 sponsorship per person required to raise those much-needed funds for Hospitality Action’s cause. Let’s not forget that this is a fundraiser. Last year we raised over £50,000 for the charity, which was a truly magnificent effort.

We want to be able to assist even more hospitality people to turn their lives around this year, but we need your help to do it, so it would be really fantastic if you could participate once again with your teams and perhaps even cajole some additional industry riders to support and join in the fun! Let’s go for a record year. The funds you all raise really will make a huge difference to our work and will go towards supporting your colleagues in crisis, such as the Ellis Family.

For further information and to book your place, please visit our events page or email Maria at mcarter@hospitalityaction.org.uk

Show your support for Hospitality Action, come along for the ride!

A rare chance to network with the cream of UK hoteliers – and have some fun!

This year, the cream of the UK’s hoteliers will again don aprons and white gloves to work as waiters and sommeliers at our fourth biennial Back to the Floor event.

The idea is simple: eminent hoteliers dredge their service experience from the dustiest corners of their memories and negotiate some fiendish tasks (think silver service-d peas …), while their table guests reach for umbrellas and sou’westers to avoid a drenching by the hapless sommeliers.

This year’s event takes place at the Dorchester Hotel on 26 April, when 75 hoteliers, from Jason Adams of the Lygon Arms to Pim Wolfs of Dormy House, will be going back to their roots in aid of Hospitality Action.

I’ve been a sommelier at the previous three incarnations of this event. In Year One, at Pennyhill Park in 2013, I had the dubious honour of being named the lowest tipped sommelier, for which I was awarded a bottle of Blue Nun and the trophy pictured above. As I recall, Jeremy Rata helped me drown my sorrows with a steady supply of Laphroaig, later, in the hotel bar.

As well as the 75 hoteliers waiting at table, the Dorchester’s ballroom will be jam-packed with hotel teams who’ve come to watch their bosses’ ritual humiliation. We think this, and the storm of social media attention the event aways creates, makes Back to the Floor eminently sponsor-able.

Interested? Give me a call on 07919 324978.

Forget Black Friday, we’ve got LOTS of awesome gifts

 

Before you get swept up in the consumerist wave of Black Friday and Cyber Monday take a moment to check out our 16th Christmas annual online auction.

Forget socks, flamingo egg cups (really, they’re a thing) or never-to-be-used vouchers for shops that only have three branches at the opposite end of the country. We’ve got some of the most unique and exciting gifts for the foodie in your life.

Today sees the launch of our annual online auction. There are some amazing lots on offer including:

There are some unique experiences in our auction that make the perfect gift for that special someone. The final deadline for bids is 2pm on Friday November 30thget your bids in now.

Your gift won’t just make your loved one’s Christmas magical, you’ll be spreading some warmth to our beneficiaries. Your generosity could help a family through one of their most challenging times.

Plus, if you buy one of our lots we promise you won’t get involved in a brawl at ASDA over a TV.

Going once… Going twice… Get bidding!

 

 

Reflections on joining HA, and why our work is more important than ever.

Hi, I’m Jeremy, and it’s my third week as the newly-appointed Marketing Director at Hospitality Action.

During my career I’ve been lucky enough to work close to the hospitality industry for The Caterer magazine, and in digital fundraising for the international charities WaterAid and Christian Aid. I’m looking forward to bringing my experience to HA as we embark on the next exciting phase in our evolution.

The highlight of my first week was getting to experience the generosity of our supporters at first hand. I was lucky enough to join chefs Jose Pizarro along with Chris and Jeff Galvin as they prepared signature dishes for an audience of fans, foodies and suppliers – all for the benefit of HA. I was taken with how committed they were both to their own teams but also the wellbeing of the wider industry. As the auction lots rolled in, I felt a real sense of pride for our industry and those who work to support it.

As a marketing chap, I’ll be thinking about how we describe ourselves, our beneficiaries, supporters and what we do. World Mental Health Day last week was a great thought starter.

There has been a step change in the way we talk about mental health, and it’s a fantastic thing to see. From Chef Andrew Frost who took to Instagram to share the story of how HA’s action line had helped him, to high profile leaders like Sat Bains symbolically removing themselves from social media to raise awareness of the pressures of our always-on lifestyle. Our friends (and my former colleagues) at The Caterer even dedicated a whole issue of the magazine to the campaign. All of these things point to a de-stigmatisation of mental health which is something HA and other charities have been working towards for years and a fact we should celebrate.

I can’t wait to start work on developing the way we communicate how we help people and the difference it makes to their lives. Ours is a fraternal industry and the people who HA help aren’t miles away – they’re our colleagues, friends and employees – and who knows – maybe one day, any one of us could need a bit of help. HA, and the wider industry helps out our friends in a time of need to help them get back on their feet. I’m keen to evolve how we tell these stories and to develop new ways that you can support us to do more of this vitally important work.

Watch this space! I’m keen to hear any comments, stories or thoughts, drop them in the comments section below or email me at jgibson at hospitalityaction.org.uk