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The Caterer

Do awards make a difference?

10 June 2010
Do awards make a difference?

Let's face it - who wouldn't want to win an award for their achievements? However, Peter Hancock, chief executive of Pride of Britain Hotels, wonders if there are too many awards being dished out these days.
I've spent much of my life watching other people win awards. As a guide publisher in the 1990s it was my pleasant task to present awards to deserving hoteliers and today I work for a group of proprietors whose shelves positively groan under the weight of plates, certificates and statuettes confirming their place in the catering trade's premier league.

Never one to turn down an invitation lightly, I've attended countless awards ceremonies, applauding the worthy winners with gusto. Added to that, my second career as an after-dinner speaker often puts me on the same stage as these objects of our admiration but, like the bridesmaid who is never the bride, I must admit to a degree of envy.

Occasionally an award category comes along that just might, with a little stretch of the imagination, apply to a parasite such as myself and I sit there thinking "could it be me?".

The host announces that the recipient has devoted decades to the pursuit of excellence and has gone beyond the call of duty. By now I'm thinking "it's me!" and then a far superior talent steps forward to tumultuous applause.

Some say there are too many awards being dished out these days and our customers may no longer be dazzled by the term ‘award-winning'."

So do awards really matter? They certainly do to the chef who toils obsessively in the quest for Michelin stars and to the manager who nominates his or her most outstanding protégé for a Hotel Catey. They matter to the B&B owner who craves an accolade proving beyond doubt that no local competitor can match them for crisp sheets and gleaming baths.

When you think about it, with more than 1.5 million people working in this industry, awards are actually quite elusive. The vast majority of us will go from cradle to care home without so much as a sniff of a prize for our endeavours, which makes the winners rather special.

Modesty prevents any mention of the few crumbs of encouragement I have received but I can reveal the words for my epitaph: "He knew his place".

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