In Service Through Friendship by Madeline Calon

The Society of the Golden Keys of Great Britain and the Commonwealth  has a long standing relationship with Hospitality Action (HA). We are a friendly association of hotel concierge that has been in existence since 1952, when a group of Head Hall Porters of several leading London Hotels met and agreed to set up an organisation which closely resembled one formed in France called Les Clefs d’Or (The Golden Keys). The first President was Mr Jimmy Stewart (not the actor!) and he served from 1952 until 1956. As the 20th President of the Society I am thrilled to be able to carry on the great work of all those who have gone before me and of course, continue to work closely with HA.

Within the Society we actually mirror some of the services offered by HA. The Welfare Officer is there to support and acknowledge the numerous life changing events of our members and we send flowers, fruit and cards to any member who falls ill, or are housebound. For our retired members we hold an annual lunch, and send them Christmas cards and gifts, and the Welfare Officer telephones and visits as many of our members as is humanly possible. HA offer a similar service via the Golden Friends scheme, and I’m sure it is purely coincidence that their support network is also “Golden”!

The Society has been a keen supporter of HA for decades, long before I became a member of the Golden Keys back in 1996. I have strong memories of previous committee members encouraging us to support HA and I am so proud to be able to continue this tradition. Each year the Society raises funds by taking part in the London 10K run and participating in an Annual Charity Golf tournament. The raffle proceeds from our annual Gala Dinner and Dance are always donated to HA and this year I had the pleasure of presenting a cheque for £9,170 and hope to continue our fundraising for many years to come.

Some of our London 10K team
Taken at our 2018 Golf Day

I would urge everyone to find a way to support HA’s fantastic work, either by fundraising in your own unique style, or by donating your time to telephone past employees who may be feeling lonely. In Service Through Friendship is the motto of The Golden Keys and nothing represents this better than our friendship with HA. If you are part of a hospitality association or society and would like to get involved with the charity please email or telephone 020 3004 5504. The relationships you form by doing so could last decades.


Update: Mitchell tells his own story of confidence rediscovered and hurdles negotiated …

Back in April, I posted a blog titled Recovery through Positivity: how HA helped get Le Manoir’s Mitchell Collier back on track.

The blog described how two dents to his self-esteem and a serious health scare had left Mitchell’s confidence at rock bottom – before Hospitality Action stepped in to help.

Mitchell’s story is an inspiring example of how enlightened employers can support their workforces by adopting our Employee Assistance Programme. The blog got massive traction on social media – so much so, that we asked Mitchell if we could make a video of his story.

Top man that he is, he immediately said yes. Thanks Mitchell, you’re a star.

Is the health and wellbeing of your team and the success of your business worth £5 per head per year? If so, email me at or call me on 07919 324978. We’d love to help you.

How Olleco are turning waste oil into a balm for hospitality people in difficulty

Back in February, I write a blog detailing how cooking oil supplier and recycler, Olleco, supports Hospitality Action as part of its wider CSR commitment. 

“Olleco understand that supporting HA creates a virtuous circle”, I wrote. “By supporting our efforts to keep hospitality professionals happy, healthy and work-ready, they are helping build sustainable businesses around the sector – and therefore future-proofing their own business.”

Kate Mortimer, Olleco’s Group Marketing and Communications Manager, told me: “In 2012 we embarked on a journey to find a charity partner who could help us extend our ethos of care. 
Individuals working within the catering and hospitality sector are key to our business. The very people the charity helps are the people that we deal with on a daily basis, delivering cooking oil and collecting organic waste streams.”

Every time Olleco sells cooking oil or collects used oil from its customers it makes a donation to HA. This summer, the total amount the business has donated has reached a staggering £100,000. One hundred thousand shiny pounds!

It’s no exaggeration to say that HA would be unable to help people like Simon Holwell (pictured at the top of this page and featured in the video above), without the support of Olleco and all the other businesses and individuals who tirelessly raise funds for us.

Congratulations on your milestone and thank you from the team at HA and all our beneficiaries.

Would you like to benefit from the virtuous circle of supporting HA? Drop me a line at or call me on 07919 324978.

Happy teams and the halo effect: how our EAP can help hospitality suppliers, too

More and more operators are catching on to the value of Hospitality Action’s Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). At just £5 per team-member per year to support the health, happiness and work-readiness of their workforce, why wouldn’t they?

But did you know our EAP isn’t tailored exclusively for operators – that we also offer it to suppliers of products and services into the hospitality market?

Personal and health issues can have a major impact on the way people work, resulting in reduced performance, lack of focus and absence. These, in turn, can lead to lost productivity and significant cost to employers. Our care programme offers a raft of benefits, including personal counselling, legal guidance, addiction support, debt advice and a financial well-being service, parenting helpline, elderly care helpline and a whistle-blowing service.

For subscribing suppliers, participation in the scheme is a win-win. It demonstrates a commitment to their team’s physical and mental wellbeing; provides a tool for growing morale and therefore retention; ensures employees are productive and undistracted by issues that might prevent them from focussing fully on their jobs; and enables them to invest in the sustainability of the industry they serve, and whose robust health they depend upon.

Already, we’ve got the likes of ACT Clean, The Caterer, HIT Training and Oranka Juice Solutions onboard as clients. This summer, they’ve been joined by the Country Range Group, who become the first foodservice wholesale buying group to subscribe.

Country Range are no strangers to HA. Last year – their twenty-fifth – they nominated us as their charity of the year and raised an impressive £25,000 in support of us.

Country Range Group Managing Director Coral Rose explains why the group is so supportive of HA: “The charity has a wonderful heritage, it’s genuine and credible, and it’s geared up to supporting the industry we also support in a wide number of ways, from addiction awareness for students right through to companionship for the elderly.

“Last year, to mark our anniversary, we did loads of activities in aid of HA, including a Muddy Maniac challenge and a gala dinner at Hampden Court. We also had a stationary bike installed at our office. Members of the team took it turns to cycle until we’d completed a 1000-mile virtual cycle-ride around all our customers’ locations. The team loved getting involved, which made it great both for team building and for member engagement.”

Creed Foodservice, one of the 12 independent wholesalers that comprise the group, also actively supports HA at events such as our Cotswold Cycle Challenge; and Managing Director Philip de Ternant sits on our Southwest fundraising committee.

Now the Country Range Group has extended its support of HA to include our EAP.

Coral says: “We’d written about the EAP in our customer magazine, Stir It Up, but we thought it was just for end-users. When we became aware it could be applied to wholesalers, we decided to sign up as a group. It represents good value, it allows us to support the industry charity, and it’s a cost-effective way for members to give benefits to their own employees.”

Would you like to safeguard the wellbeing of your workforce and benefit from the halo effect that comes from supporting the industry you serve? Contact us now at

How raising money for Hospitality Action can improve your life and the lives of others, by Troy Smith

                     Troy tackles Tough Mudder

Hospitality Action is our industry charity and does fantastic work helping people across the industry. Raising money for the charity has turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made, as my fundraising journey has led me to try out activities I now love. I’ve now raised over £10,000 for Hospitality Action (HA). Doing so has enriched my life as well as supporting those in our industry who are not so fortunate. Here’s my story.

My involvement with HA began when the legendary and much-missed Peter Hazzard invited me to join the charity’s London board, when it launched, over a decade ago.

I had been in the hospitality industry for 14 years by then and had worked with various industry associations. But what appealed to me about HA was that it allowed me to give something back to an industry that had been kind to me through my career, providing me and my family with a good life style.

In 2010, Peter asked if I wanted to run the Great British London 10k Run in aid of HA.

At the time I played badminton once a week and was a gym-member at Virgin Active, doing various classes through the week.

“No problem”, I said, “but 10k is too easy – I’ll do it with a 10kg jacket on, to try and raise even more sponsorship”.

I ordered my 10kg jacket. When it arrived, I went straight to the gym and jumped on the treadmill. Immediately, the realisation hit me like a hammer blow: I was in no shape to run 10k without the jacket, let alone with it.

I had to start from scratch. Day by day, month by month, I added more and more weight while I trained. By the time of the race in July 2011, I had lost nearly two stones in weight. I finished the 10k in 46 minutes with the 10kg jacket on and raised over £1000 for Hospitality Action in the process. From then on, I was hooked – finding new sporting challenges to help raise money for HA became my mission.

I repeated the London 10k in 2012 and raised another £1000. However, it was tougher finding sponsors this time, so I knew the next year I had to try something a bit different.

Troy running the Portsmouth Half Marathon with a smile

The following year I decided to try four big races, the Portsmouth Half Marathon, the Viva Extreme 9-mile assault course, the Tough Mudder 12-mile extreme assault course and The Great British 10K run.

These were all gruelling, especially my first half marathon in Portsmouth, half of which is run on the beach. At one point, my trainer stuck deep in mud on the beach and came off my foot. I went flying and smacked my face on the rocks. After a quick clean-up I got back on it and finished in a reasonable 1hr 41mins. This set of races raised another £1000 for Hospitality Action.

                                          Record Breaker

In 2014, I completed six big races and went for a Guinness world record. The highlight of the races was completing one of the world’s toughest Tough Mudders, 2000 feet up in the mountains of Colorado, Snowmass in Aspen. The World record was an abdominal hover plank with 100lbs on my back (46kg) in a rucksack. I trained for six months for this. I failed my first attempt, which was frustrating as many people came to support me and I had beaten the record in practice the week before. However, a month later, I smashed the record, adding another 25 seconds to record 3mins 20 seconds. To this day this is one of my greatest sporting achievements. I also managed to raise £1100 for HA.

The Great Wall Marathon in       Beijing, China

The following year, 2015, I wanted to compete in an epic race that would raise more money than before and discovered the third toughest marathon on planet Earth: The Great Wall Marathon in Beijing, China. Despite running in 90-degree heat and climbing over 5000 steep steps, I conquered the challenge in 5hrs 20mins non-stop and raised over £3000 in the process. When you consider that the winner completed it in 3hrs 45mins and he was a professional marathon runner, you get a sense of how difficult the race is – the London Marathon takes just over two hours.

For this challenge, I secured sponsorship from twelve hospitality companies in return for logos on my running vest. This was a much quicker and easier way of raising funds. I charged £250 per logo. In return, I gave sponsors as much social media coverage as possible, to ensure they felt they got value from the sponsorship.

                                                      Troy in training

My most recent charity event was one of my toughest. It meant learning a totally new brutal sport called Crossfit. It’s one of the world’s fastest growing sports and is best described as a decathlon on heat. Over 250,000 people around the world take part in the Crossfit Open every year and there are 10,000 people in my category, the Masters 50-55 years old division.

It’s a mixture of Olympic weight lifting, gymnastics including handstand walking and muscle-ups, cycling, rowing, running and swimming. I had to learn lots of different complex skills to enable me to compete at a high level. To prepare, I followed an individually-coached training programme seven days a week for three years.

I entered the European Masters Throwdown one of the leading Crossfit competitions in Europe held in Budapest, Hungary. I managed to get industry sponsors on my training top from the likes of Hilton Hotels, Hotelympia, Beacon, Pelican, Frasershot and many other companies in the Hospitality Industry. I qualified for the finals, finished in 11th place in Europe overall – and raised £3150 for HA.

My story shows that you can have fun, improve your health, enrich your life and do good, if you decide to support HA. If you are considering a challenge or thinking about raising money for this great charity, my message would be: do it! The rewards will follow in so many ways.

100 miles in aid of Hospitality Action

We celebrate 13 brave cyclists who represented Hospitality Action and our industry on Sunday 29th July and completed the Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 in wet and windy conditions. The team jointly raised over £12k for our charity.

The cyclists include Richard Davies Chef at Calcot,  Richard Ball Executive Director of the Calcot Collection, Brian Rowledge and Adam Rowledge, General Manager at Georgian House Hotel, Chris Moore from The Clink Charity, Carl Maskell Director at Just Chefs. Chef Adam Grey, industry professionals John Webb, Steve Batten, Richard Turner, Chris Schroeder, Raul Deflorian, Front of House Manager at 45 Park Lane, The Dorchester Collection and Nicholas Rettie The Master of The Worshipful Company of Innholders.

What teams them all up are their passions for cycling and hospitality.


Here is what our supporter Raul Deflorian, Front of House Manager at 45 Park Lane, The Dorchester Collection said: “We made it!!! It was really tough, two bad punctures after the biggest hill of the race and a lot of rain and wind, but overall very pleased! I managed to reach the target and contribute to the outstanding work that you all do at Hospitality Action!”

Long term supporter Nicholas Rettie, Master of The Worshipful Company of Innholders said: “I rode the Prudential London Surrey a few years ago and really enjoyed it, so I was delighted to have got a place this year through Hospitality Action. I’ve been in the hotel business all my working life and have always admired the work Hospitality Action do for the people in our wonderful industry who are in need of support. To raise some money by riding 100 miles was exhausting, but it was really rewarding and for such a worthy cause!”

Final word from Adam Rowledge, General Manager at Georgian House Hotel:

“It has been a pleasure to work with Hospitality Action since I became aware of the excellent work that they do around 7 years ago. There are so many different ways to support the charity, many of which I have been fortunate to be able to do during this time, from completing sponsored events such as the British 10k run and RideLondon 100, staging fundraising and awareness events during Hospitality Action Week, welcoming guests to my hotel for Golden Friends afternoon teas and of course attending the more indulgent events such as the wonderful Back to the Floor dinner and of course there are many more ways that you can help, all year round. I passionately believe that we not only should want to support Hospitality Action to give back to our industry but that we actually have a duty to. The charity is always there whenever we or our team needs its support and I have been fortunate to directly see the benefit of their involvement in my own business through the Employee Assistance Programme and the support that HA provided to our additional focus on employee wellbeing.”

We thank our supporters for making our work possible. Without the funds you raise, our hands will be tied and our phone lines will be unanswered. Isn’t it comforting that hospitality workers in need have somewhere to turn to?

You are selflessly pushing yourself to achieve a challenge, to deserve the pledged moneys, only to hand everything over and help the colleagues within our industry who are next in line to be given support in their difficult time.

Yes, there is a constant stream of applications to assist and we can’t turn anyone away. If people have reached out, they are relying on our help. Going forward, we can’t leave anyone behind. Asking for help is hard and most often people would like to remain anonymous. We try and help people confidentially and without any disruption to their personal or working life whenever possible. That way they manage to keep up with their lives, keep their dignity and regain their confidence and power back.

Hospitality Action is here, with all our 181 years of experience to support you, educate or assist you. Only together we can make the changes that are worth making in the industry we all love. Choose to fundraise, choose to support, sign up for our newsletter and feel part of the conversation.

Taking Hospitality Action nationwide: teamwork and philanthropy, Northern-style… By Kevin Haygarth

People often ask me questions about Hospitality Action, which allows me to stand on my soapbox and wax lyrically with pride about our amazing charity. I tell them all of the stuff that we do and that it’s not just about chefs!

My family (usually my mother), asks me about being involved with HA, and about being the designated Chair for the Northern Fundraising Board in this non-lofty, non-elevated, and non-ivory tower, yet fabulous position… (I think she still pictures me in school shorts and an elasticated tie!).

She inquires, “When it comes to board leadership what puts you above the rest?” The answer to that (for me) is simple – “nothing”.

In my view, a good Chair works with great people. People who are doers. Folk who want to make a difference and take ownership of tasks, and who all share the ability to see the bigger picture and the overall mission and vision. And that’s what we are.

We are a tightly-knit and diverse group of professional hospitality people acting as one team, investing our time and energy to generate successful results and funds to help others.

Hospitality people meet, greet, entertain, liaise, interact, nurture, serve, and form professional bonds with companies, organisations, and individuals, and I believe that one of the common values that all of the people on the Board in the North share is that we are all ‘relationship magicians!’ We are only as good as the wonderful people we connect with and build warm, open, and honest relationships with.

We are fortunate to attend some amazing fundraising events, and we have huge support from the team at Head Office and from our regional co-ordinator, and we are building relationships across a plethora of towns and cities which spreads the word, widens the net, and affords me lots more emails!

We sometimes ask tough questions of one another and indeed of the organisation, but it’s always done through the lens of helping. We all do different things in our day-to-day lives and we all have varying skill sets which allow us to press forward and achieve great things, although we have yet to find a board colleague willing to whittle animal shapes out of soap for prizes for the raffle!

We are proud and honoured to be hosting and celebrating some of the region’s culinary talents at our Northern Lights Gala Dinner, on 1 October at the Lowry Hotel in Salford.

Five dream-team chefs are coming together in the kitchen to create an extravaganza of dishes to tantalise our taste-buds.

The kitchen team:

Starter: James Mackenzie, The Pipe & Glass Inn
Fish course: Ellis Barrie, The Marram Grass (Great British Menu Finalist 2017)
Main course: Gary Usher, Sticky Walnut                                                                            Cheese Savoury: Steven Smith, Freemasons at Wiswell
Dessert: Adam Reid, The French at The Midland Hotel.

Details of the event can be found here.

I’ll leave you with this, which kind of sums us up:

If we were Farmers in’t North, some of us would pick’th cabbages, some of us would feed’th animals, some of us would milk’th cows, and some of us would do’th paperwork!


Credit where due: passing on beneficiaries’ thanks to all our supporters

Of the many reasons for choosing a career in hospitality, one of the foremost has to be the pleasure that comes from being thanked for the food, drink, accommodation or service you’ve provided.

At Hospitality Action, we thrive on positive feedback, too. ‘Thank you’ is a powerful phrase, and we’ve collected backloads of thank you notes from people we’ve helped.

Of course, we can only offer the support that elicits this feedback because of the fundraising that underpins our charity. On that basis, the thanks should really go to you, the selfless people who make our work possible.

You know who you are: consider yourselves well and truly thanked for your generosity of spirit. You are changing lives for the better – as you’ll see from the comments below.

“I am in tears as I type. Thank you so much. You saved my life.”

“Thank you very much for your help to save my house and my life, I couldn’t ask a better person for help.”

“With your help, I’m having the best winter. It is the first time I can have heating without worrying about the bill. It’s wonderful. Thank you for the peace and happiness you have given me.”

“To all the wonderful staff at Hospitality Action, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all your help since losing my job. I don’t know what I would have done without it.

“Thank you for the vouchers for the afternoon tea. I took my mum with me as she supported me through my treatment. After the trauma of last year, it was lovely to be able to relax and have an afternoon out.”

“Thank you so much. I am utterly speechless and eternally grateful.”

“I just wanted to thank you all for the lovely Christmas card and gift card. When I opened it this morning I cried at the generosity and kindness you have shown.”

“Thank you for the adaptations. I applied to other organisations, but they had either run out of funds or we didn’t fit their criteria. You were quick to reply and made us feel less humble for applying. I can’t thank you enough.”

“Please accept our sincere thanks for your generosity. It has made a world of difference. You made this happen: 😊.”

“Just wanted to say thank you so much for my grant. It has helped me a lot with getting my life back on track.”

“Thank you so much. With the help and support of your kind organisation, it is a lot easier to focus on the positives and a bright future.”

“I cannot express in words the gratitude I have for your charity. I’ll never forget that you helped me at my worst point. Not only have you changed and improved my life and situation, you’ve restored something I haven’t had in a very long time: hope.”

“Thank you doesn’t seem like enough, you are all angels and I am forever grateful for your help.”

“Your grant made such a difference to my mental state, which no doubt helped in the healing process.”