Simon Houston, group manager Europe at BaxterStorey, has won the 2012 Acorn Scholarship. Houston, who took the title following a final at Abode Exeter yesterday, has won a scholarship valued at more than £7,000.
The Acorn Scholarship, now in its 10th year, is headed up by Michael Caines of Gidleigh Park, Bath Priory and Abode Hotels along with James Horler of 3Sixty Restaurants and William Baxter of BaxterStorey.
At an event organised by the Acorn Scholarship in association with sponsors Villeroy & Boch and Unilever Food Solutions, 27-year-old Houston was unveiled as the winner after beating fierce competition at the final selection day.
All the judges were impressed by Houston's determination to raise the profile of contract catering as a credible career choice for young people. During the course of the year as an Acorn Scholar he hopes to put together a forum of like-minded peers to go into education and spread the word.
As group manager Europe at BaxterStorey, Houston is responsible for the multi-million pound Cisco contract. It was a second attempt at the title.
Judge Nick Green commented "Simon's rapid progression at BaxterStorey has been remarkable. All the judges felt he was a very mature 27-year-old with a lot of energy and a very commercial approach. He will be a great ambassador for the Acorn Scholarship".
As part of Houston's bespoke scholarship, he will receive a £2,000 bursary for professional development, £1,500 worth of Learnpurple training, plus monthly coaching sessions with Learnpurple managing director Jane Sunley, a trip to Villeroy & Boch in Luxembourg, a designated mentor to guide him through the year as a scholar and Springboard UK Ambassador training.
Two finalists were also given highly commended awards and a bursary of £1,000 each to invest in their development. Siobhan Turner is a human resources manager for Handpicked Hotels, while John Hicks is chef trainer for BaxterStorey.
The Acorn Scholarship is a self-nominated award and is open to individuals who are UK residents and able to work in the UK without restriction. Previous winners include John Price of Bannatyne Hotels, Jon Reed of Learnpurple, Simone Sylvestre of Laytons Wine, Rob Hartwell of Peach Pubs and last year's winner Joel Fagg of Barcelo Walton Hall.
By Neil Gerrard
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