James Northard of the Grassmoor Golf Centre in Chesterfield has been named the UK Hospitality Apprentice of the Year at the 2012 Hospitality Apprenticeship Awards.
Now in their 13th year, the awards, organised by the Hospitality Skills Alliance in association with the British Hospitality Association (BHA), the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and the Institute of Hospitality, recognise practical skills, competence and achievement across the hospitality sector.
Northard (pictured, left, with Roy Ackerman) scored top marks over two days of practical assessments and skill challenges at the national final of the competition and was presented with his award at the UK Hospitality Apprentice of the Year awards ceremony held at London's Vintners Hall earlier this week.
His prizes include a stage at Raymond Blanc's two-Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons, a visit to House of Champagne Gosset in France, and a behind the scenes visit to the BBC's Saturday Kitchen.
Northard said: "It's a dream come true; a fantastic opportunity to sharpen my skills, learn from the best and advance my career."
Meanwhile the UK Hospitality Apprentice Employer of the Year award went to Harley's Diner in Peterborough for its imaginative apprenticeship programme and mentoring and motivating those with particular learning difficulties such as dyslexia.
The UK Hospitality Apprentice Provider of the Year award was given to Babcock International Group for its community outreach work and robust arrangements for quality assurance. Its high retention, completion and success rates in excess of 90% particularly impressed the judges.
Speaking at the awards, Nick Scade, chairman of the Academy of Food and Wine Service, said: "The academy is a great believer in the value of an apprenticeship and is committed to support their take-up. Many of those at the top of our industry started out as an apprentice.
"With the funding and support currently available from the Government, now is an ideal time for employers - both large and small - to take on an apprentice. The payback in terms of increased productivity, customer satisfaction and profit is not only considerable but well proven."
By Kerstin Kühn
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