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Neel Radia was nominated for the Public Sector Caterer Award for his enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to the care sector.
He has devoted his spare time to many organisations in a voluntary capacity during his career, but most notably to the National Association of Care Catering (NACC).
His deputy chair at the NACC, Sophie Murray, said: "His passion and commitment for driving best standards in catering in the care sector have positively impacted on thousands of care caterers over the past 12 years," and our judges agreed unanimously.
Radia has championed the national awareness of the importance of catering for the care sector during his fifth year and third term as national chairman of the NACC, making him the second chair in the association's 30-year history to commit to three terms in office.
Prior to holding his position, Radia successfully led the NACC South East Region for six years, where he recruited more than 120 new members while engaging them with informative seminars and accredited training events.
He took over at the NACC as chair at a period when the association was in financial difficulty and worked hard with the committee to get it back into financial stability. He has had a major influence on driving training and development and has taken the lead in furthering the meals on wheels agenda to receive national news and political recognition.
He has been instrumental in setting up England's first Level 2 Award in Professional Cookery in Health and Social Care and actively promotes it to colleges, students and peers.
Beyond the NACC, as an ex-student of Brighton University, he gives back to future talent as a member of the Momentum Mentorship Programme, helping students to overcome the barriers that may prevent them from obtaining graduate employment. He actively volunteers at the Food Chain charity, preparing meals for communal lunch clubs, and has thrown himself out of an aeroplane for a 10,000ft skydive to raise £6,000 for both the Food Chain and the Alzheimer's Society.
This award proves the influence that Radia has delivered. As Murray adds: "His passion and drive has been unwavering in wanting to make a difference in this challenging arena called ‘care'. The improvements in the NACC since he took the helm have been obvious and ground-breaking."
As The Caterer's 2015 Foodservice Catey's Extra Mile Award winner, Radia has continued to garner considerable support and attention for his sector. And, with quiet determination, he will no doubt continue in the same vein for many years to come. He works tirelessly to promote opportunities and better work practices and is a consummate professional who continues to inspire those who work alongside him.
What the judges said
"Neel has consistently shown passion and dedication to raising awareness of care catering, ensuring dignity and nutrition in the elderly."
"Neel has achieved excellent PR and raised the profile of the NACC in difficult times."
"Neel demonstrates integrity to drive the care sector forward and selflessly raises key issues."
"Neel has worked tirelessly for the NACC and is passionate about improving the quality of life for older people."
Brad Pearce CATERed
Neel Radia National Association of Care Catering
Matthew White The University of Reading and the University Caterers Organisation
Julie Barker Director of accommodation and hospitality services, University of Brighton
Tim Blowers National chair, LACA
Andy Jones Managing director, AJ Associates
Vic Laws Director, AVL Consultancy
Alison McCree Managing director, CDD NHS Services
Matthew Merritt-Harrison Merritt-Harrison Catering Consultancy
Mary Wedge Senior operations manager, ISS Facility Services
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