A Whole Lot of Fun – Flagship Quiz Breaks Records!

A record-breaking £85,000 was raised on Wednesday evening at our annual Big Fat Quiz! Taking place at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London the event was an enormous success and raised the most since the quiz began back in 2007!

The fundraising got off to a fantastic start when Daniel Pedreschi, Regional General Manager UK at PPHE Hotel Group presented us with a cheque for £19,533 – raised through the popular StreetSmart Campaign.

The quiz, hosted by legendary DJ Pat Sharp saw joint team CESA, Jellybean Creative Solutions, Propercorn and Wenlock Spring crowned champions out of the 55 competitive teams who took part. It was a closely fought battle with joint team Delifrance, Kellogg’s and Tyrells in second place and The Caterer coming third.

Over 500 guests enjoyed a three course meal of ham hock, chicken and leek terrine, slow-cooked shepherd’s pie and apricot and vanilla sponge mousse with coconut ganache and almond crumble. Guests were also able to bid on star auction lots, hosted by celebrated chef and HA Patron Brian Turner CBE, including an overnight stay for two guests in a Suite at The Dorchester and two tickets to see the England v India test match at Lord’s this summer.

It goes without saying that we’re extremely grateful to all of our sponsors, without whom the evening simply wouldn’t have been possible. Sincerest thanks to Bidfood, the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, Syft, Fusion FSM and all those you see listed above.

It was a fantastic evening! If you’d like to host your own (slightly smaller!) quiz to raise funds for Hospitality Action, or you have a brand new fundraising idea you’re keen to get off the ground please give me a ring on 020 3004 5504 to talk things through.

When the thud of envelope on door mat reminds you the world hasn’t forgotten about you …

This pile of envelopes can only mean one thing: it’s time to ship the latest mailing of our bi-monthly Golden Friends newsletter.

All hands were on deck last Friday – super-volunteer Denise‘s among them – to stuff into envelopes the fifteen hundred copies of the newletter we send out to our Golden Friends.

Golden Friends is a contact scheme for people who have worked within the hospitality industry and are now retired. It is a free scheme and is open to anyone who is over pension age and has worked within the hospitality industry in the UK for at least 7 years.

We use the phrase, Golden Friends, because we hope that the programme’s members are enjoying their golden years. But of course, for too many elderly people, retirement can bring with it loneliness and isolation. The loss of a life partner and worsening mobility only exacerbate this.

As well as the newsletter, the programme sends members birthday and Christmas cards and gifts, and invites them to regional lunches and teas where they can meet old friends and make new ones. (If you can donate a lunch or tea please click here for further details.)

Members can also request an introduction to one of our befriending volunteers, who keep in touch with Golden Friends through home visits and over the phone. I’ve written about my phone friendship with Dora, previously.

The Golden Friends newsletter is a mixed bag of content. The latest edition has information about how to join an audiobook library; advice on how to create bee- and butterfly-friendly gardens; and some enjoyable content about the NHS, which celebrates its 70th birthday this year. Sudoku lovers are well catered for; as are bakers, who’ll enjoy this month’s banana bread recipe.

Our Golden Friends love to browse each new edition. For some of them, points of contact with the outside world are few and far between, so just hearing the thud of post on door mat is a pleasure.

The newsletter is sponsored by the Worshipful Company of Innholders. Bless them for this gift to the people who laid the foundations of today’s hospitality industry. And well done to Hospitality Action’s Jenny Gill for compiling it.

 

Recovery through positivity: how HA helped get Le Manoir’s Mitchell back on track

When you’re young, it’s easy to think you’re indestructible. Your whole life is stretched out before you, the opportunities are endless.

But there are no guarantees in life. No one can know what lies around the corner. Just ask Mitchell Collier, Guest Relations Manager at Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. I’ll let Mitchell tell his own story.

“From the age of 14, I knew hospitality was what I wanted to do. I may have been elbow deep in dishwater but I already felt part of something bigger. For me, hospitality isn’t just the service we deliver but the collaboration of people with their own unique traits and skill sets.

“Knowing that I felt destined for a career in hospitality, I began to chase my dream. After two years studying Hospitality Management at Buxton College, I accepted a position at South Lodge Hotel, where I progressed within the Guest Services team. I joined Le Manoir in 2016, with the drive to continue my journey further. Life was good …

“In the Spring of last year, my life turned upside down. Following a decline in my health and several visits to the doctor and to hospital, I was diagnosed with a form of skin cancer, in June.

“The last thing you expect to be doing on your 21st birthday is to be recovering from emergency surgery to remove a cancerous growth. It’s certainly not what I had planned!

“Days before my surgery, I was also informed I’d been unsuccessful in applying for an internal promotion. And, in the same week as my surgery, my partner decided to end our relationship. I felt alone, a failure, and I couldn’t comprehend having been told I had cancer. Despite being an optimistic, positive and joyful person, I couldn’t see light at the end of the tunnel.

“A close friend at work saw my struggle and told me to seek help from Hospitality Action’s Employee Assistance Programme, which our company offers to all staff members. If it wasn’t for her suggestion, I honestly don’t know what position I would be in today. The support and reassurance I got from just one telephone call was the pick-up I needed.

“I was offered six sessions of counselling by Hospitality Action. After a few sessions with the counsellor, I still felt I wasn’t back to my normal self, so after a quick call they agreed on a further six.

“My counselling was to help me come to terms with everything I’d been through. I described it to my counsellor as trying to download a 10GB file with a bandwidth of 1KB. I just wasn’t able to process everything and became stuck with what was going on in my life and how I could move forward. I had all the emotions going on and I just didn’t know where to start with them all.

“On returning to work I found certain situations very difficult to handle. Le Manoir is a bucket-list destination for some people, so I was around guests who’d unfortunately not been so fortunate with their treatment and were coming for a last special occasion. My counsellor was able to teach me techniques to help me process everything a little bit at a time, and to clear my mindset.

“The counselling brought me back to a place I was familiar with. My positive outlook and happy attitude were back, and I felt ready to tackle the challenges that had been thrown at me over the previous three months. I reapplied for the promotion and, with perseverance and support from the counsellor and a fresh outlook, I was promoted to Guest Relations Manager early last November. I then got my all-clear at the end of November, so it really was a great month for me. I go back to the Churchill in Oxford every three months for scans and check-ups to make sure nothing has come back. It’s great to have such attentive after care.

“I am 21, turning 22 in June, but I’ve decided that this year is going to be my 21st birthday revisited, since I didn’t get to celebrate last year while I was recovering from surgery.

“I am so grateful for the support Hospitality Action gave me; and I admire their commitment to supporting individuals struggling in our industry. Without a safety net like the one they provide, I fear my story would have been very different. Everyone will come across struggles in their life and sometimes it’s just a helping hand that makes a big difference.”

Mitchell, more power to you for inviting me to tell your story, and good luck with your recovery. You know where we are, should you need any further support.

Mitchell received our support because Raymond Blanc and his management team at Le Manoir had the foresight and duty of care to subscribe to our employee care programme.

I urge to do the same for your team members, and ensure they remain happy, healthy and work-ready.

Charity supporters walk the rooms of Downton Abbey

Last Thursday we offered our guests the opportunity to tour Highclere Castle in West Berkshire, to lunch and have afternoon tea at The Vineyard at Stockcross and we raised £13,000 for Hospitality Action.

We ran this event for the first time in 2017 and for the second year running we sold out in just a few weeks. We love organising this popular event because it opens the doors to new supporters, who are prepared to travel for miles for the opportunity to tour Highclere, enjoy a Champagne reception and a fabulous three-course lunch with paired wines at The Vineyard.

Chef Robby Jenks once again prepared the most exquisite menu not just for the lunch, but also for the array of sweet treats for the afternoon tea, which was gladly received upon the return from the castle tour.

The Vineyard Hotel, a Relais & Châteaux 5 star hotel and spa, is renowned for its impeccable service, 3 AA Rosette restaurant and award-winning, 30,000-bottle wine cellar. All guests highly praised chef Robby Jenks and his brigade.

Even the short coach journey to Highclere Castle was enjoyed, driving through the beautiful countryside, taking in the green fields dotted with sheep and new born baby lambs, one of the sure signs of spring, to finally reveal a stunning country house set within a 5,000-acre estate in Hampshire, the country retreat of the Earl of Carnarvon. Highclere was a filming location for the British comedy series Jeeves and Wooster and it was also more recently used as the main location for the award-winning period drama Downton Abbey. We even had an actor amongst our guests, a proud extra who took part in many episodes in the series and proved to be quite a character.

This year we also offered a visit to the Egyptian Exhibition, which highlighted the 5th Earl of Carnarvon’s role in discovering the Tomb of the Egyptian Boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamun, in 1922 with his colleague, Howard Carter. We all learned something new that day and those of us who love history, came away a little bit curious.

In the words of one of our guests: “We had a wonderful day at Highclere Castle and the food and the service at The Vineyard were outstanding, we will definitely come back! Today we were introduced to Hospitality Action and feel privileged to have attended this fundraiser and to have contributed to such a great cause, we will make sure we support your charity in the future!”

The raffle and live auction raised £13,000 and we are hugely grateful to Greenclose Hotels Limited, The Marylebone, Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, Tyddyn Llan, The House near Bath, Firmdale Hotels, CH&Co and Sidoli who donated prizes.

We are extremely grateful to The Vineyard for hosting the event, to Taittinger Champagne for providing the bubbles for the drinks reception and to Hatch Mansfield for pairing up wines with the menu. We thank all of our sponsors for continuing to support our fundraising efforts and contributing with such special care and attention to ensure our event offer experiences to remember.

The funds raised will be used directly to support our charity work, to provide a much needed support, often a lifeline, to current and former hospitality industry workers who find themselves in difficult times, both at work and in their personal lives.

The reality is that hospitality is everywhere in our lives and we believe that the hard working people offering hospitality should not remain faceless or suffer in silence. After all how can you deliver great service with a smile if you don’t feel like smiling?

If you would like to be informed about our work and attend future events, please sign up to our newsletter here.

If you would like to get involved, donate a prize, nominate us as your charity or have an idea, we would love to hear from you fundraising@hospitalityaction.org.uk

Rugby Legends and Super Chefs Raise £40,000 for HA!

On Monday evening we hosted our inaugural Rugby Legends Dinner at Deer Park Country House Hotel. It was a tremendous occasion which raised a whopping £40,000!

Our 200 guests enjoyed delicious food prepared by a brigade of some of the UK’s pre-eminent chefs, all from or with links to the west country; Dominic Chapman of The Beehive, White Waltham, Jude Kereama of Kota, Nathan Outlaw of Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, Josh Eggleton of The Pony & Trap, Guy Owen of The Idle Rocks, Paul Ainsworth of Paul Ainsworth at Number 6 and Michael Wignall formerly of Gidleigh Park. Thanks also goes to Hadleigh Barrett, Executive Chef at Deer Park for opening his kitchen to us!

Stuffed courgette flower with burrata, artichokes, beetroot & sultanas, pine nut vinaigrette by Dominic Chapman, The Beehive

Our lucky guests also enjoyed the company of a host of rugby union superstars who entertained us all with tales from on and off the pitch. We are extremely grateful to them all for giving up their time free of charge; David Flatman, Phil Vickery MBE DL, Jeremy Guscott, Alex Brown, Phil Dollman, David Flatman, Andy Hazell, Kai Horstmann, Lee Mears, Matt Powell, Nigel Redman Andy Reed, Gareth Steenson, and Nolli Waterman alongside football legend Paul Tisdale.

L-R: Nathan Outlaw, Phil Vickery MBE DL, Guy Owen, Josh Eggleton and David Flatman

We are of course also indebted to our headline sponsor Sharp’s Brewery for their tremendous support, without them the event would not have been possible. Special mention also goes to Chase Distillery, Enotria&Coe, Exposure Photo Agency, Oliver Harvey, The Pig, Salt Media, Total Produce, Udale Speciality Foods and Wing of St Mawes for being so generous.

Events like these are only made possible thanks to the dedicated supporters who give up their time to help us on a voluntary basis, people like Andrew Foulkes MI who masterminded the event and Mark Godfrey FIH MI who gave us free rein of Deer Park Hotel. Needless to say we are always in need of ambassadors just like Andrew and Mark, from right across the UK, to lend their support. If you’d like to get involved in the charity, in any way, shape or form, please give me a ring on 020 3004 5504. It would be great to hear from you.

Lands End to John o’ Groats: charting Hospitality Action’s nationwide reach

Hospitality Action? It’s that charity for chefs working in London and the Southeast, right?”

Wrong. And wrong.

Hospitality Action helps anyone who works or has worked in hospitality, and finds themselves in crisis.

Yes, we help chefs; but we also help restaurateurs, hotel workers and bar staff. Moreover, we support hospitality professionals at every level of operations: whether you work in a Premier Inn or at The Ritz, whether you serve Michelin-starred dishes or hospital meals, we’ve got you.

As for any geographical bias, the chart above speaks for itself. Last year, 18% of our spend in 2017 was in the Southwest, 14% in the Northeast, 13% in the Northwest, 10% in Scotland and 8% in Wales.

They say charity begins at home. Rest assured, wherever you call home, from Dublin to Dunfermline, Penzance to Penarth, we’re here for you.

History lesson: how Hospitality Action’s been helping its industry for 180 years and counting

If you’ve ever been assisted by Hospitality Action (HA), you’re in very good company. Hospitality’s benevolent charity has been supporting the industry since 1837. Over the past 180 years, we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of hospitality people who’ve found themselves in difficulty or crisis.

HA began life as the London Coffee and Eating House Keepers’ Association. Snappy, no? In the 1830s, there were an estimated 1900 coffee shops and stalls across the capital. To support the people working in them – and inspired by the licensed trade, which had already created its own benevolent association for publicans – a gang of coffee house keepers met at Eastey’s Hotel (pictured), below Covent Garden on Southampton Street, and started their own. Fittingly, a restaurant, the Ivy Market Grill, sits on or beside the site, today.

Addressing the gathered throng, inaugural president John Humphreys proclaimed: “The coffee house keepers possess within themselves every material for forming one of the most extensive charitable institutions of which this Metropolis could boast” … [saving beneficiaries from] … “the alternative of dragging out a miserable existence immured within the walls of a workhouse”.

In these early years, the charity helped only the coffee house keepers, not their teams. (Only in 1923 did it broaden its remit to include employees.) This help took the shape of pensions for retired workers.

In the coming decades, the coffee house keepers  extended their remit to include hoteliers, as well as “Dining House Keepers, Restaurateurs, Ham and Beef Purveyors and similar Refreshment House Keepers”.

The association was slow to look beyond London; but by 1926, there were outpost branches in Liverpool and Manchester.

A step change came in 1952 when, to mark the Queen’s Coronation, the association moved into property, with the purchase of a site in Wimbledon intended, according to the spokesperson of the day, for “elderly members of the trade who are in straightened circumstances”. The house was fitted out using the proceeds from Mecca’s Miss World competition.

By 1968, hospitality movers and shakers felt the association needed stronger representation from the industry it served. A Grand Council (very Game of Thrones) was created, enabling the great and good to gather regularly and steer the organisation.

Further industry support came in 1972, when donations of £100,000 each from Grand Metropolitan’s Maxwell Joseph and Trusthouse Forte’s Lord Forte steadied the association’s wobbly finances. With this cash injection, it was able to add properties in Manchester, Newcastle and Birmingham to its estate.

Our potted history is nearing the present day. In 1975, an organisation called the PM Club approached the charity for help. Since the 1940s, it had run a club and hostel for young hotel and catering staff arriving in London. But the property was dilapidated and needed investment. HA took control of the club’s finances and by the mid-80s its premises were refurbished and relaunched.

Today, HA has long since divested itself of its property assets. Our focus, now, is on grants and advisory support. (My colleague Laura Clyne’s recent post has more on this.) This shift in our remit has allowed us to expand exponentially the number of people we can assist.

The threat of the workhouse may no longer loom before our beneficiaries, but the straightened circumstances referred to back in 1952 certainly do.

Whether the problem is bereavement or bullying, physical or mental ill health, marital issues or addiction, HA is here to help. And long may that continue.

(With thanks to Derek Taylor, whose 1987 Caterer & Hotelkeeper supplement celebrating 150 years of what was then the Hotel & Catering Benevolent Association I plundered.)

 

Work does not protect families from falling into crisis

New analysis on foodbank use, in conjunction with the Trussell Trust, has highlighted how being in work does not guarantee that you will have enough to get by. Applications for Hospitality Action’s grants are up 6% on this time last year and we are seeing increasing requests from people in work in crisis.

Our Winter Fuel Grant scheme for working people on low incomes helps ensure that people don’t have to choose between food and fuel. With the recent bad weather many people may have been worried about turning on the heat due to the cost. The grants are for £100 and applicants just need to demonstrate that they are on a limited income, have little or no savings and have a fuel bill to pay. If you or anyone you know will struggle with your winter fuel then the short WFG application form can be found here. We can accept applications until the end of March and so don’t delay. After this date help can be offered through our main grants programme.

Through our Essential Needs Grants we help with a huge variety of needs. Last week we helped Ms W who needed to equip a new home after fleeing an abusive partner, she and her children were without a working washing machine and fridge-freezer which we were apply to provide along with some furniture for the children’s bedrooms to make their house feel more like a home.

For many in our industry company sick pay is not part of their benefits package. The drop in income caused by only receiving Statutory Sick Pay of £89.35/week should they need time off due to ill health puts people in the impossible position of choosing which essential bill to pay; rent, fuel, food. This week we helped Mr & Mrs T; Mrs T is recovering from cancer and is back at work early as she could no longer afford to be off. We helped with some essential bills and they also received our Winter Fuel Grant.

To find out more about our grants programmes and to access our application form, please visit our website or call our grants team on 020 3004 5500.

Sunday service: how you can help transform hospitality lives on 1 July

This summer, Hospitality Action (HA) is calling on chefs, restaurateurs and hoteliers across the country to come together and raise funds in support of people who work or have worked in hospitality and find themselves in crisis.

The industry charity aims to unite the UK’s hospitality community on Social Sunday – and help transform the lives of those working in the hospitality industry.

Social Sunday was the brainchild of Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton. For three years, Jason, a patron and trustee of HA, has run the event to fundraise for the charity. Since launching Social Sunday in 2015, he has raised over £100,000 to help his fellow hospitality professionals.

This year, on 1 July, HA is taking the concept nationwide and asking operators up and down the country to support Social Sunday by taking part in the biggest lunch service ever.

Jason Atherton explains: “This is the fourth year of Social Sunday, and the industry has never operated in a tougher climate than the one we’re currently experiencing. When times are hard, it’s important that we look after our own – and that’s what Social Sunday is all about.

“This year, HA’s Chief Executive Mark Lewis and I are asking operators across the nation to help in any way they can. Every offer of support, no matter how small, will help build a wave of generosity towards industry professionals who need HA’s help most.”

Social Sunday is a chance for businesses to engage their local customer base and raise money for a good cause.

This year, we aim to build on the strong foundations laid by Jason and establish Social Sunday as one of the stand-out dates in the hospitality calendar. If the industry comes together, I know we can achieve something remarkable.

Jason’s restaurants welcome guest chefs to create bespoke tasting menus, with profits going to HA. But the charity has created a range of fundraising ideas for the event, meaning restaurants and hotels can commit at whatever level suits them. Even if you can’t open up on Social Sunday itself, there are plenty of ways to get involved in the weeks around it.

Ways of getting involved include:

  • Hosting a cookery demo for local customers pre-service and donating proceeds.
  • Inviting a local celebrity to speak and create an “audience with” lunch.
  • Holding an auction or raffle during the week of Social Sunday, donating proceeds.
  • Inviting your suppliers to gift you produce for Social Sunday and donating your savings.
  • Applying a discretionary extra charge to bills for the week of Social Sunday.
  • Donating a percentage of profits for the day after covering costs.

Would you like to be a part of Social Sunday? You’d be helping people like Liam … and Samantha.

To join the movement, email me at mlewis@hospitalityaction.org.uk or call me on 07919 324978.

Far from quiet on the Southwestern front … how regional boards are helping Hospitality Action

Yesterday morning I visited Lucknam Park to attend the HA Southwest board meeting. That’s me in the middle, surrounded by a crack team of fundraising supporters from the southwest region.

From left to right, they are: Lucknam Park chairman Harry Murray, Whatley Manor GM Sue Williams, executive chairman of Calcot Hotels Richard Ball, Pride of Britain chief executive Peter Hancock, Cotswold House Hotel GM Craig Webb, Deer Park MD Mark Godfrey, Creed Foodservice MD Philip de Ternant, ML, Cornwall educator Stuart Mathieson, AA Hotel Services MD Simon Numphud, hotel consultant and former Le Manoir director/GM Philip Newman-Hall, and educator Bridget Halford.

Not too a shabby a line up, I think you’ll agree. And there are other members not present yesterday.

We’re lucky to have their support. HA relies on fundraising to be able to offer support to people who work or have worked in hospitality and find themselves in crisis. All of these board members give up their precious time to volunteer to support our work.

We currently have three regional boards, covering the North, the Southwest and London. I can’t stress enough how invaluable their work is. Together, they raised almost £500,000 for Hospitality Action in 2017. The Southwest board alone raised £130,000.

This year, the Southwest board will host a Rugby Legends Dinner at Deer Park, a tour of Highclere with lunch at tea at the Vineyard, the Cotswold Cycle Challenge and September’s charity polo day.

Just as importantly, board members will act as ambassadors for HA, evangelising about its services and encouraging industry peers to match their support.

This year, we plan to extend our network of regional boards. Are you based in Scotland, Wales, the Midlands or East Anglia? And would you like too contribute to HA’s work?

If the answer’s ‘yes’, I’d love to hear from you at mlewis@hospitalityaction.org.uk or on 07919 324978.

Meanwhile, thank you to every one of our regional board members. Together, you are helping strengthen HA, your industry’s safety net.