April's Star of the Month is Damian Clarkson, managing director of caterer and events company Red Snapper Events. Nominated by event planner Emily Geiser, he has been working with the Food Chain charity to provide meals for people suffering from HIV-related illnesses. He spoke to Kerstin Kühn
Why did you nominate Damian?
Emily Geiser Damian set up Red Snapper Events five years ago and hasn't just built a successful business but also worked hard to ensure that those who are less fortunate have benefited from his success. He set up an arrangement with the Food Chain charity, which looks after HIV-positive people, through which they can use our kitchens every Sunday and also when we are quiet. Damian is extremely committed to the charity and even ensures that when we have ordered too much of anything it goes towards them. He deserves this award and to get the recognition for his hard work.
How do you feel having won the Star of the Month award?
Damian Clarkson To be honest, I feel really embarrassed. I had no idea that Emily had nominated me, so it's come as a really big surprise. The thing is that I never got involved with the Food Chain with the intention of doing it for publicity, so it's quite humbling to have been awarded this prize.
What is the idea behind the Food Chain, and why do you support it?
DC Food Chain provides nutrition services, including home deliveries, for people suffering from HIV-related illnesses, including Aids. It prepares nutritionally balanced meals and caters for special dietary requirements. Five years ago my office manager was a trustee and made me aware of the charity. I wrote to them to tell them about us and that we were keen to get involved, but never got a reply. When we moved premises two years ago, I got in touch with them again, and this time they got back to me and we set the whole thing up. About 10 volunteers come to our kitchens on Sundays, and although during the week they might be quite senior in their respective jobs, in the kitchen they all work together as a team, chopping vegetables or packing food.
What will you do with the £500 prize money?
DC Well, I hadn't thought about that, but I will probably give it to the Food Chain. The fact that I won the prize for my involvement with the charity means it makes sense for the money to go towards them.
Do you think the hospitality industry provides enough support for charitable projects?
DC The industry does a fair amount, but a lot of it is small stuff that doesn't inconvenience anyone. Not a lot of what is done is done in kind, and not often do people pledge their own resources. On the whole there's a lot more that can be done.