The winner of LACA’s new Unsung Hero Award said she was “humbled to win” and is “just doing her job”.
Larissa Wells, unit manager for Taylor Shaw at Villa Real School in County Durham, a special needs school, was presented with the award at the LACA Gala Dinner last month. It was a new category at the LACA Awards for Excellence and celebrates an individual who has contributed to school catering but would otherwise go unnoticed.
“I was so humbled to win this award. I’m just doing my job. But it’s lovely to see it recognised. I feel so proud and grateful to work with such wonderful people,” she said.
The judges were amazed with Larissa’s caring nature and innovative ways of improving mealtimes. For example, after taking qualifications in dealing with children with autism, Larissa had the idea to start using the Picture Exchange Communications System. The system helps her engage with children about their food, even if they have little or no communication skills. She has also started using different food moulds to turn pureed and blended food back into more recognisable looking meals. For one child – who was only ever able manage to eat baby food from jars before – it has made an incredible difference to mealtimes.
Lynda Walker, Taylor Shaw general manager, said of Larissa: “Larissa is a wonderful, caring individual who shows great care and compassion for her children. I’m delighted to see her get the praise she deserves.”