THE WINNER: Richard Ware, Cambridgeshire Catering and Cleaning Services
Sponsored by: Apetito
After the Jamie Oliver furore it's been an uphill struggle for all local authority public sector caterers," said judge Vic Laws, director of AVL Consultancy. "But bringing the experience he had from his previous positions and services and using some very innovative marketing techniques, Richard Ware has managed to get some good results."
Which is why, this year, Ware was the man to carry off the Catey in the Public Sector Caterer category. These results include eliminating the £1m deficit at Cambridgeshire Catering and Cleaning Services (CCS) and taking the service to a level where it is serving an extra 200,000 school meals and is expected to break even in this - a particularly difficult financial year. Ware, who has a wealth of experience in both public- and private-sector catering positions, stood out for the progressive, marketing-oriented strategy he implemented after joining the company as head of service in 2007.
Through his work at CCS, Ware has managed to improve the reputation of school catering in Cambridgeshire, raising the profile of the service in both the local area and the authority as well as increasing school meal uptake. His decision on joining the business to undertake independent market research among customers and stakeholders - head teachers, parents, pupils and caterers - was at the heart of his success.
As judge Sue Hawkins, care catering services manager at Dorset County Council, pointed out: "He involved all of his stakeholders, the staff and the children, governors and head teachers and parents. Ware listened to what they were saying and developed the services accordingly - so he's got a robust service that's meeting the needs of everybody. Ware isn't just providing school meals; he's offering a much bigger service in terms of the level of communication with the people - and that's when things can really develop and get exciting."
Initiatives like the establishment of primary school menu boards and the introduction of salad carts at every school have helped to get youngsters enthusiastic about school dinners once more. Neil Porter, chairman of LACA, praised this focus on positive marketing as "really impressive. The way he used a brand-new marketing programme to really engage with students worked. Overall, he just looked very closely at the students' needs, and this certainly had the desired effect."
For judge Alison McCree, who was last year's winner in this category, it was Ware's ability to build on the good work of his predecessor Hilary Witt that really set him apart. "He's gone into somewhere that was well run, where there's been a lot of hard work and good leadership, and he's built on that. It very much feels like he's taken the team with him. It's easy to go into somewhere that's failing and make an impression. Not so easy when it's somewhere that's already succeeding."
- Shire Services, Shropshire Council
- Graham Walker, head of hotel services, St Andrews Healthcare
- Richard Ware, head of services, Cambridgeshire Catering and Cleaning Services
- Sue Hawkins, care catering services manager, Dorset County Council
- Roger Kellow, government account manager, Hobart UK
- Vic Laws, director, AVL Consultancy
- Alison McCree, associate director of facilities and performance, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
- Ron McKenzie, head of facilities, County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust
- Neil Porter, national chairman, LACA
- Alan Tuckwood, head of catering and physical education services, HM Prison Service
- Richard Wilson, director of nutrition and dietetics, King's College Hospital