The LACA Wales Region Recognition of Excellence Awards returned for its 8th anniversary at the Vale Resort, in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales
Attended by 140 education catering providers, suppliers and guests, the LACA Wales Region Recognition of Excellence Awards was a wonderful evening, with a three-course meal and entertainment from the Cardiff Arms Park Male Choir and KLA Dance – a dance troupe of nine to 11-year-olds who competed on this year’s BBC Greatest Show series.
Stuart Long (formerly of MKN) returned as compere, and the evening included a raffle to help raise £1,000 for AP Cymru, a charity that provides support for families experiencing and coping with autism.
The 2019 award list included the Chair’s Award, Innovation Award, School Catering Team of the Year Award, Supplier of the Year Award, Emerging Talent Award and the Shining Star Awards.
“This year we introduced some new awards, which increases the opportunity for more front-line colleagues to gain recognition for their dedication, innovation and outstanding contributions in this fantastic industry of ours,” says Judith Gregory, LACA Wales regional chair. “We very much appreciate all the support we get from our suppliers for these awards, and a huge well done to the LACA Wales Committee who work tirelessly to deliver these events.”
The 2019 celebrations kicked off with the presentation of the Chair’s Award, which was presented to Gareth Thomas, Food in Schools Coordinator, Welsh Local Government Association.
“Receiving the LACA Wales Chair’s Award was a complete surprise,” says Gareth. “I was purely attending to network and celebrate the achievements of my colleagues in Welsh school catering services. Being acknowledged by my peers means a great deal to me, as I also appreciate their dedication, unique characters and integrity.”
Also presented during the evening was the Supplier of the Year trophy, which was awarded to Castell Howell Foods. Speaking on their award win, Matt Lewis, director at Castell Howell Foods, says, “We are pleased and deeply honoured to have received the award for LACA Wales Region Outstanding Supplier of the Year 2019. At Castell Howell, we work closely with the local authorities within Wales and Welsh Government to support the provision of healthy and exciting menus, with sustainably sourced and, where possible, local produce, as well as drive efficiencies along the supply chain, bringing a benefit to all. Our success is a direct result of the hard work done by our team in ensuring the needs of the catering teams are met and supported, and we are very proud to be associated with the school meals service and LACA Wales.”
Up next was the Innovation Award, which was won by Vale of Glamorgan School Meals Catering. Speaking on behalf of the team, Symon Dovey and Carole Tyley, says, “Receiving the award for the work we undertook with a partner department at the Council and the local producers proved successful for our school meals service. Our pupils are now drinking milk from a local farm which is travelling 20 miles to the furthest school. An honour to receive the award amongst colleagues and friends.”
Another worthy winner of the night was Bridgend County Borough Catering Services. Having been shortlisted for four awards, the team were immensely proud to have won not one, but two awards!
“It was great pride that I watched Bridgend County Borough Catering Services staff receive two awards at the LACA Wales awards ceremony,” says Louise Kerton, team manager of catering services, education and family support at Bridgend County Borough Council.
The first winner from Bridgend County Borough Council was Tremains Primary, which was awarded the School Catering Team of the Year award.
“This fairly new team, under the leadership of the cook Leanne Rees-Sheppard, has totally transformed the relationship with their school and its learners,” says Louise. “[From] their individual enthusiasm and commitment to not only supporting the healthy school ethos but also by providing an excellent professional service to their customers.
“Leanne was previously the LACA Welsh Region School Chef of the Year in 2018, and her outstanding contribution and leadership skills significantly raised the profile of education school meals here in Bridgend,” continues Louise. “By the team engaging purposely with the school council about the Healthy Eating in Schools (Wales) regulations, and listening to the learner voice, there has been a major impact on customers attitudes to food at the school, which has resulted in increased uptakes of school meals, and fruit and vegetables.”
The second winner from Bridgend County Borough Council was Christine Thomas, who won a Shining Star award.
“I was delighted to see Christine win a Shining Star award for her dedication and commitment to Bridgend catering services and Brynteg School, where she has worked as a kitchen assistant for 36 years,” Louise says. “Christine has seen many changes to school meal provision, and she has loyally supported numerous cooks during her employment, with a recorded 32 years’ service with no sickness absence. She is an outstanding role model to other staff within the service.”
Further winners of the Shining Star Award included Shirley Curnick, Carole Tyley and Glenys Rees.
Speaking about her award, Shirley says, “I was very excited to win the award and have my long service recognised by colleagues in the same business. My family are very proud and so am I for the service given to the pupils I have served.”
“Humbled beyond words,” says Carole. “To be nominated and judged by colleagues and suppliers is the greatest feeling in this industry of catering for our future generations.”
Yvonne Cole, assistant business support manager Department for Education and Children, says, “Glenys is a very loyal, dedicated and trustworthy member of staff who work exceptionally hard in achieving very high standards of work. We are delighted that Glenys has been recognised for her long-standing commitment and loyalty to our School Catering Service.”
The full list of winners of the night were:
• Chair’s Award – Gareth Thomas, Food in Schools Coordinator, Welsh Local Government Association
• Innovation Award – Vale of Glamorgan School Meals Catering
• School Catering Team of the Year Award – Tremains Junior School, Bridgend CBC
• Supplier of the Year Award – Castell Howell
• Emerging Talent Award – Madison Shellis, Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC
• Shining Star Awards: Shirley Curnick, Vale of Glamorgan Council Christine Thomas, Bridgend CBC Liz Kitson, Torfaen CBC Carole Tyley, Vale of Glamorgan Council Glenys Rees, Carmarthenshire Council Joyce Handford, Caerphilly CBC Phylliss Levi, Caerphilly CBC