Foodservice Cateys 2016: Extra Mile Award
Sponsored by Bidvest Foodservice
Neil Porter, BAM Facilities Management
Neil Porter is operations director south for BAM Facilities Management, and holds the honorary position of chair of the events group for the Lead Association for Catering in Education (LACA). According to his nominator, Beverley Baker at Surrey Commercial Services, his contribution to the education sector has been nothing short of amazing.
A board member of LACA for more than 20 years, he was elected chair in 2004, and was the first person to hold the office of national chair for a second occasion, in 2008.
After leaving college, he joined Bristol City Council and worked his way up the ladder to become the catering, cleaning and print manager. He joined BAM in 2006, developing its hard-and-soft facilities management services in the Bristol area.
However, some good did come out of all the bad publicity, as the government undertook to invest £1.2m into raising standards. LACA was invited to join in the review process, playing its part on the government working group. The group went on to produce the report Turning the Tables, and LACA responded to the government consultation. This report formed the framework of the final food-based and nutrient standards for England.
As a result, Porter attended a meeting at number 10 Downing Street, had dinner at the House of Lords, and made numerous appearances on TV and radio programmes. Following a tumultuous year, he was considered brave to take on another term of office only three years later.
Porter, along with other past chairs, repeatedly questioned the possibility of providing free school meals to all pupils in reception and year 1 in primary schools. He argued that this would involve children at an early age, and increase their chances of appreciating and understanding the benefits of a nutritious diet.
Each chair of LACA would say that they have tried to develop the association and raise the public profile of the school catering service. Today, the industry is recognised by government as contributing to improved educational attainment and tackling the obesity time bomb, which, in turn, helps to reduce the burden of costs on the NHS from diet-related disease.
Porter has been chair of LACA's events group for five years, and together they deliver School Chef of the Year, National School Meals Week, and the annual conference and exhibition, the Main Event. All these programmes make the national news and are the jewels of LACA's portfolio. The income generated by the Main Event helps LACA to work at a national level with government, the Children's Food Trust and other players in the sector.
This work is voluntary and Porter goes above and beyond the minimum. He is a remarkable innovator and networker, and has established the relationship with Kendal College, an associate college of the University of Central Lancashire, which delivers middle-management training to the sector.
Porter is not alone in the dedication he shows towards LACA, but he has gently and effectively contributed in a sustained way over more than 20 years, helping LACA to evolve into the effective organisation it is today. He gives unstintingly of his time and is widely respected.
- 2015 Neel Radia National Association of Care Catering
- 2014 Gerard Jacob Vacherin
- 2013 Vera Mirescu Host Management
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