This year's Extra Mile award goes to a foodservice caterer that stepped up when the entire world had its eyes on the UK.
As the nation mourned the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022 before celebrating the coronation of King Charles III, a meticulously planned series of events were triggered into action. These involved thousands of people across the country, all of whom needed sustenance, the planning of which was all down to Sodexo.
Sodexo's Government Division provides services to more than 30 clients and employs 11,000 people in a range of roles across the UK and Ireland, the Falkland Islands and Cyprus, supporting the government in defence, justice, agencies and property services. The teams need to be ‘mission ready' to respond to last-minute or unique situations – and those two royal events certainly saw Sodexo's Government Division go that extra mile to provide multi-faceted support to a huge cross-section of personnel involved in these complex events.
From 4am breakfasts to VIP lunches and tens of thousands of meals, Sodexo needed to be in hour-to-hour contact with its clients. Its teams needed to be flexible with working hours while showing a commitment to quality food and safety, and continuing its close collaboration with a host of supply chain partners.
On 8 September last year, at 6:30pm, the death of Queen Elizabeth II was announced and Operation London Bridge sprung into action, involving various government departments, the Church of England, the Metropolitan Police Service, the British Armed Forces, the media, the Greater London Authority and Transport for London.
Similarly, during the Coronation – or Operation Golden Orb – thousands of military personnel were involved in the planning, rehearsals and day's events, as well as London-based organisations such as Transport for London (TfL)and the Met. Anji McCormick, head of facilities operations at TfL, praised Sodexo's dedication to the catering needed to sustain its workforce, saying: "Queen Elizabeth II's funeral and King Charles III's Coronation were nationally significant events with huge logistical challenges for London, and Sodexo played an integral part by ensuring our staff had easy access to food, drinks and space to unwind while working on them."
At RAF Halton alone, Sodexo served almost 30,000 additional meals and 600 packed meals to cater for the additional military taking part in the Coronation Parade, with teams arriving on-site at 2am to prepare a 4am breakfast service and shops for snacks and drinks operated with extended hours.
The scale and complexity of these events and the required increase in service demand and flexibility from Sodexo saw its teams rise to every challenge, under immense pressure, to ensure that thousands of vital personnel were able to focus on fulfilling their roles during these significant historical moments.
Mark Baker, chief operating officer for the Sodexo Government Division, described the time as a "blend of huge sadness and great pride", which was even acknowledged in a personal letter of thanks to the business from King Charles III himself.
It's this caterer's dignified approach to the operational challenges of these extremely rare events that makes this business deserving of this year's Extra Mile Award.
2022 Gregory De La Peña-Hall
2021 Andy Jones, AJ Associates
2018 Simon Boyle, Beyond Food Foundation and Brigade
2017 Alison Gilbeart, CH&Co Group
2016 Neil Porter, BAM Facilities Management
2015 Neel Radia, National Association of Care Catering
2014 Gerard Jacob, Vacherin
2013 Vera Mirescu, ,Host Management