Beyond the call: how giving up a little time can be gold dust to Hospitality Action

 

Supporting Hospitality Action can take many forms. Sometimes support is financial, sometimes it takes the shape of a time commitment. When it comes to giving up precious time, no HA supporter can ever have been more generous than Denise Haugh. That’s Denise in the photograph, beside me.

Denise worked in hospitality for more than 40 years, and in many capacities. She was a receptionist at the Queens Hotel, Cheltenham, in the 1950s; staff canteen manager at the Science Museum in the 1970s; had a spell with Trust House Forte; and ended her career as senior catering officer at the Metropolitan Police, where she headed up operational catering for officers policing major incidents and events.

After such a long and varied career, Denise could have been forgiven for putting her feet up and enjoying her retirement. But that’s not her style. Since retiring, she has thrown herself headlong into supporting HA in a variety of ways.

It’d be easier to list what Denise hasn’t done for our charity, than what she has. She has visited grant applicants to offer support with their applications. She has hosted lunches and teas for our Golden Friends (retired industry members who find themselves isolated or lonely). She has been a volunteer visitor since the scheme started in 2006, and has made a huge impact on the wellbeing of the Golden Friend she supports.

Despite all this, in 2013, Denise decided that she could still do more to support HA, so she offered to volunteer at our office in Farringdon. She quickly became an invaluable member of the team, and now spends a day a week with us, supporting HA’s Golden Friends scheme.

Every year, Denise writes around 2,000 birthday and Christmas cards to our Golden Friends (sadly, for some, these are the only cards they receive). And, every two months, she stuffs, labels and franks 1500 Golden Friends newsletter mailings.

If you asked Denise why she does all that she does for HA, she’d probably say it’s a way to pay back an industry that gave her a career and a livelihood. In truth, though, it’s the hospitality industry that’s indebted to her for her generosity of time and spirit.

Last month, the HA team contacted the charity, Room to Reward, to nominate Denise for their Hidden Hero scheme. Room to Reward works on a fantastic premise: it asks hoteliers to give up unused room stock to allow it to award well-earned breaks to volunteers for charities across the UK. It’s a way for charities to say ‘thank you’ to their staunchest supporters.

We were all delighted when we learned that our application had been successful. Later this year, Denise will be staying at Balmer Lawn Hotel & Spa, a place she fondly remembers visiting as a child.

Through her work for HA, Denise has made a huge impact on many people’s lives. We’re immensely grateful to her for her hard work and dedication.

We don’t expect every HA supporter to show Denise’s level of commitment. But if you can spare any time at all to raise funds, I’d love to hear from you at mlewis@hospitalityaction.org.uk or on 07919 324978.

Happy holiday, Denise, and thank you.