Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Another year gone. I am sure everyone says it, but Christmas seemed to arrive with no warning this year. One minute, I was enjoying a lovely two-week holiday; and then, on my return (at the end of November), suddenly it was Christmas everywhere.
We even had our staff Christmas lunch at the police headquarters in the first week of December.
However, the holiday had relaxed me enough not to panic about the work I needed to do and the preparations for Christmas. I spent most of my holiday using up all the sleep I had "banked" over the past few months and preparing myself for the onslaught of the festive period, when all the units under my direction were holding their Christmas lunches within the space of a week.
It may be hard work for all my staff, but they certainly take pleasure in watching their customers enjoy the festive food and atmosphere.
At the police HQ, all the Sodexho staff decided that, this year, instead of dressing up in the usual festive costumes, they would do something completely different - and they did. They dressed as cavemen and women.
Despite having my fingers securely crossed for my junior manager, who was up for the Best Newcomer award at our company awards in November, he didn't win. We were all very proud of him for reaching the final, and made sure that he thoroughly enjoyed the event.
And who couldn't have enjoyed it? The food was fantastic. Sodexho organised for a number of celebrity chefs to prepare a course each, and the result was amazing.
It was also a fantastic opportunity for the Sodexho chefs chosen to work at the event, as they got a chance to work under the leadership of Steven Saunders, Anton Edelmann, Paul Heathcote, and Paul and Jeanne Rankin.
Throughout the ceremony, we heard about all the hard work and extraordinary things people around the Sodexho business have done.
Seeing everybody there in one venue, the size and diversity of our business really hits home, as does the commitment the company has to its staff, and vice versa.
One part of the ceremony was to recognise those who have spent 20 years working at Sodexho, and it was astonishing to realise that, every year, about 50-60 people receive Long Service awards.
As I won an award last year, I was able to sit back and enjoy watching others receive the applause. The Star Awards are something I hope will continue for many years to come. For everyone at Sodexho, it really is one of the most important dates in the calendar.
Well, here's to 2003. Let's hope it's a good one.
Sara Carless is Sodexho's district manager for the Devon & Cornwall Constabulary
Next diary from Sara Carless: 13 February