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Willie McCurrach, City of Glasgow College
For more than 38 years Willie McCurrach has worked tirelessly for both the City of Glasgow College and the hospitality industry as a whole. He is a natural leader with a passion for, and commitment to, the success of his students, staff and the college.
McCurrach ensures his students are "fit for purpose", by providing them with the essential skills required by an ever-changing and evolving industry. His forward-thinking approach has led to him being renowned for setting the trends in further education.
Students are encouraged to pursue their dream of a career in hospitality and have access to a range of opportunities thanks to McCurrach's relationship with industry bodies and professionals.
A strong advocate for the need of competitions within the culinary scene, he has encouraged several students to enter both UK and international competitions including Springboard Future Chef, Nestlé Toque D'Or, the Nations' Cup and World Skills.
He has also introduced a series of masterclass events, where chefs such as Albert Roux, Michel Roux Jr, Brian Turner and Andrew Fairlie support and work with students. The initiative has helped raise funds for the Hospitality Industry Trust - a charity which McCurrach has supported since its inception.
Students have also taken part in a hospitality evening at Buckingham Palace, provided canapés for the Craft Guild of Chef's 50th anniversary celebrations in St James' Palace and supplied a celebration cake for the Queen for her Diamond Jubilee.
McCurrach has established, promoted and participated in various college exchange programmes, supported by the city council, including with Toulouse, Marseilles, Pisa and Nuremberg. He also has an influential role in designing and developing qualifications in Scotland as chair of the SQA Qualification steering team.
Throughout his career, McCurrach has demonstrated the importance of being able to adapt in order to meet the needs of the learner and trainee, as well as that of the industry.
A recent innovation was the introduction of the 'dynamic learning' package for full-time students through their Virtual Learning Environment. This allows students to learn from videos and presentations 24/7 and is available via PC, tablets and mobile phones. He is also involved in the design of the new college facility, due to open in August 2016.
McCurrach has always been innovative in filling the skills gaps that have been identified in Scotland, particularly with the lack of trained chefs. He has worked with a variety of external organisations, including the Prince's Trust, for more than 10 years, resulting in the creation of short certified programmes to encourage disadvantaged young people into full-time employment in hospitality.
What the judges said
"Willie goes above and beyond the call of duty every day. He ensures his students get a fantastic educational experience, preparing them for the world of work. A great man."
- Mick Burke, The Sheffield College
- Chris Galvin, Galvin Restaurants
- Kulsum Hussin, Welcome Skills
- Willie McCurrach, City of Glasgow College
- Geoff Booth, Chairman, Professional Association for Catering Education (PACE)
- David Cochrane, Chief executive, HIT Scotland
- John Cousins, Director, the Food and Beverage Training Company
- Alberto Crisci, Founder/director, the Clink prisons restaurants and charity
- David Foskett, Head of school, University of West London
- David McKown, Head of training and quality, University of Sheffield
- Julia Sibley, Chief executive, the Savoy Educational Trust
- Sara Jayne Stanes, Chief executive, Royal Academy of Culinary Arts
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