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Kate Nicholls has been the consistent, passionate and determined driving force behind industry relations since the inception of UKHospitality in April 2018. Ever since bringing the ALMR and the British Hospitality Association together as one powerful lobbying force, she has presented a united voice to government to promote the interests of the sector.
Even before the coronavirus pandemic, Nicholls had gained respect from across the hospitality industry for her deft handling of industry issues and ability to put the case for the sector to government in simple terms that prompted genuine action.
Since March her ability to present the challenges facing hospitality businesses in clear and sometimes stark terms to government has been instrumental in the support the sector has received. When the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK, Nicholls lobbied hard for recognition that hospitality was on the frontline of affected businesses. She has since worked tirelessly to explain the depth of the impact to national media and government.
Her negotiating skills have ensured hospitality stays top of the agenda. Before this year MPs hardly ever uttered the word hospitality: now it is on the tip of every tongue, with the plight of hotels, restaurants and pubs taking centre stage.
As at ease answering questions on social media about the ever-changing operating landscape as she is pointing out operational complexities to politicians, Nicholls' pragmatic approach has ensured that the industry's challenges have been widely understood and that the concerns of a diverse sector have been distilled into strong, clear messaging.
Robin Hutson, this year's Lifetime Achievement Award winner and the chairman and chief executive of Home Grown Hotels, said he was thrilled Nicholls had received this award.
He said: "Silver linings to this year's ‘Covid cloud' have been few and far between, but the tenacious lobbying and support from Kate Nicholls is the one that first comes to mind. Our complex sector has often, in the past, lacked this single voice; I believe we now have one."
Lucknam Park chairman Harry Murray added that there had been many heroes in the past year but that Nicholls' efforts stood out: "Since ALMR and BHA merged, she has supported every sector of hospitality with good communication, built trust and united the whole industry for the first time in its history.
"We will all be forever grateful for her leadership and negotiating skills during the pandemic to persuade government and in particular the chancellor to support the hospitality industry. It is difficult to imagine what state the industry would now be in without Kate's dedicated and ongoing commitment."
Bartlett Mitchell executive chairman Wendy Bartlett summed up the mood of many Catey judges who put Nicholls' name forward. "I personally have the deepest admiration for Kate and her achievements on our behalf," she said. "At a time of crisis for our industry, Kate's strength of character and impressive oratory skills have given our industry a strong voice and our case heard above all others.
"Kate has been the catalyst to power our sector as one voice. I know that everyone in the industry, and particularly the UKHospitality board, have been unanimous that there is no one that could have represented us better at this time."
There is no shortlist for the Special Award
The editorial team of The Caterer, with nominations from all the Cateys' judging panels