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Helen Blinkhorn, Head housekeeper, Golden Tulip hotel, Manchester

26 January 2006

Helen Blinkhorn is head housekeeper and duty manager at Manchester's Golden Tulip hotel, which is a few minutes' walk from Manchester United's Old Trafford ground.

Hospitality is a family affair for Blinkhorn. Her sister is also a housekeeper and their mother is still working as a waitress despite being in her 70s, and was recently appointed MBE for services to catering.

Blinkhorn's family background and her natural ability to click with customers always made the industry a likely vocation for her.

True to form, she was a scullery maid by the age of 13, working for pocket money at the Black Swan hotel in Helmsley, Yorkshire.

College and a City & Guilds in housekeeping and reception followed, and in 1977 she joined the Hotel Majestic in Harrogate as a trainee housekeeper.

The hotel was then part of the Trust House Forte empire, and Blinkhorn praises the training she received at the Majestic during her three years, which culminated in her promotion to assistant housekeeper.

In 1980, at the age of 21, she moved to Amsterdam and became executive head housekeeper at the Luxury Apollo hotel. She describes her Dutch experience as fantastic and still remains in touch with some of her co-workers from that time.

Blinkhorn also learnt the language while in the Netherlands, which, now she works for part of a Dutch hotel group, is not without its advantages.

She returned to the UK in 1983 and a series of senior housekeeping roles ensued in Winchester, Helmsley, York and finally Manchester, where she joined Golden Tulip in October 2000 after several other roles in the city.

Blinkhorn's job requires her to manage a diverse team of 23 as well as the hotel's toiletry inventory and bedding, and the linen in its dining areas. An early morning start just after 6am remains very much part of the role.

With more than 30 years' experience in housekeeping, Blinkhorn clearly still enjoys her job and says: "Housekeepers generally have a lot of experience and knowledge that can help the running of the hotel. I'd advise any young manager to make sure they listen to them and learn."

Salary Watch: what head housekeepers should be earning

LowNormalHigh
Three-star, up to 100 rooms£13,000£15,000-£23,000£25,000
Three-star, more than 100 rooms£14,000£12,000-£28,000£30,000
Four-star, up to 100 rooms£14,000£16,000-£25,000£28,000
Four star, more than 100 rooms£15,000£22,000-£28,000 £33,000
Five star, up to 100 rooms£18,000 £20,000-£28,000£35,000
Five star, more than 100 rooms£20,000£23,000-£40,000£47,000
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