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National Association of Care Catering honours exceptional contributions at the NACC Awards 2020

Published: 9th October 2020


Yesterday (8 October), members and supporters of the National Association of Care Catering (NACC) came together at the NACC Awards 2020 to recognise the exceptional contribution of care caterers in this extraordinarily challenging year.

Determined that the Covid-19 restrictions would not put a stop to the annual celebration of outstanding innovation, excellence and dedication that teams and individuals from across the care catering sector demonstrate, the prestigious event took place virtually. Hosted live by the NACC’s national chair, Sue Cawthray, the event was well-attended by NACC members, ambassadors and supporters, including sponsors, fellow industry associations and media.

New and exclusively for 2020, The Triumph Over Adversity Award honoured the extraordinary efforts of care caterers during the Covid-19 pandemic – from those working in care homes to those supporting the vulnerable in the community. Entries for this category painted a picture of phenomenal generosity, professionalism and community spirit. The judges could not pick one overall winner and the title went to two worthy recipients, Michael Buccu, sous chef at Gracewell of Ascot, and The Umbrella Café CIC, Whitstable.

Sue Cawthray, National Chair of the NACC, said: “Congratulations to the NACC Awards 2020 winners. In what’s been an incredibly challenging year for our sector, it’s been an absolute honour to recognise and celebrate the extraordinary efforts and frontline contribution of everyone in care catering.

“Care caterers have shown without a shadow of a doubt how innovative, dedicated, compassionate and selfless they are – and how fundamental they are to quality care. They’ve ensured residents who suddenly found themselves isolated from the outside world continue to receive nutritious meals and met the increased demand for meals delivery to the vulnerable older population in the community confined to their own homes. And always with the specific needs and overall wellbeing of each resident and customer at the heart of what they do. The virtual awards ceremony was a very special occasion and we’re thrilled that despite the difficult circumstances we all find ourselves in, we’ve been able to celebrate the amazing achievements of our sector with members and friends. It goes without saying that everyone at the NACC is very, very proud of the care catering sector.”

The 2020 NACC Award winners are:

Care Establishment of the Year Award, sponsored by Hobart: Pear Tree Court, Care UK

Head Chef Stuart Passey and his team are passionate about using the best-quality ingredients and tailoring menus and mealtimes to residents’ tastes and needs, as reflected in the 98% resident satisfaction rating. The judges said of the winning establishment: “Quality and personalisation are central to every aspect of care at Pear Tree Court”.

Meals on Wheels Award, sponsored by apetito: Hertfordshire Independent Living Service (HILS)

The largest not-for-profit ‘meals and more’ service in the country, HILS serves over 5000 customers in Hertfordshire and two London Boroughs and provides17 different services, giving support to an additional 10,000 older, vulnerable and disabled clients annually. During the Covid-19 crisis, up to 1900 hot meals and 400 tea and breakfast packs were delivered daily, with caring visits and ‘Staying Happy’/‘Staying Active’ packs supporting wellbeing. The judges praised HILS, describing it as: “An organisation which never rests on its laurels.”

Catering Team of the Year Award, sponsored by Brakes: Meallmore Ltd

The ‘Meallmore Standard’ is a term widely associated with the food, hospitality and dining experience it delivers. The team of talented, engaging and motivated chefs lives by the mantra ‘if food isn’t fun, you’re doing it wrong’ and it’s this ethos that scooped them the award. The judges praised Meallmore’s ongoing achievements, saying: “Past successes for individuals and now success for an outstanding team. Well done Meallmore.”

Catering Manager of the Year Award, sponsored by Unilever Food Solutions: Anne Dudley, Catering Support Manager, Hampshire County Council

Anne is a very busy manager who constantly seeks improvement, from working structures and practices to kitchens, kitchen equipment and communications systems. She’s written a catering staff induction guide, for example, and arranges training for chefs. During the Covid-19 crisis, Anne supported catering teams with additional staff, even stepping in to cook herself! The judges rightly described Anne as: “A lady of enormous commitment and drive.”

Our Care Catering Hero Award, sponsored by Premier Foods: Peter Hall, Head of Kitchen, Cranleigh Paddock Care Home

Peter has surpassed himself in his dedication to his job and extracurricular activities to support the home and residents. Determined to make life fun, particularly during lockdown, he made an ice cream cart to deliver ice cream to residents, helped build and extend the bird aviaries, made face guards for use at the home and other HCC Care sites and designed a unique ‘hands and heart’ plaque to thank the staff at Cranleigh Paddock. The judges were very impressed, stating: “Peter’s amazing skills and dedication have clearly improved the lives of his residents.”

The Triumph Over Adversity Award, sponsored by CaterCloud

The judges declared Michael Buccu and The Umbrella Café, CIC as: “Two exceptional entries truly worthy of the title ‘Joint Winner’.”

Michael Buccu, Sous Chef, Gracewell of Ascot: At the start of the pandemic, Michael lost his wife, who was a trainee nurse and care team member at Gracewell of Ascot, to Covid-19. This was devastating for Michael and his three daughters, who all also caught the virus. Despite his own personal tragedy, he’s shown nothing but dedication, professionalism and support. He returned to the kitchen (his second family) and through his grief continued to work with his head up, producing fantastic food for the residents and keeping the team going. When head chef, Matt Dodds, suffered serious health issues, Michael also took the time to call on and support him.

The Umbrella Café CIC, Whitstable: Whitstable is seen as an affluent area, but its citizens struggle with social isolation and food poverty. The Umbrella Café is a social enterprise and not-for-profit hub for social engagement, located in the Whitstable Umbrella Community Century. It welcomes callers for coffee and home cooked lunches made using surplus food from Fare Share and donations from local suppliers. Food Friends, also located in the community centre, is a food sharing initiative that connects home cooks with neighbours in need of a nutritious meal and friendly chat. When lockdown forced the café to close, the Umbrella Café and Food Friends joined forces to create the Community Dinner Fund to continue to support those in need. It delivered around 3060 meals and 400 breakfast parcels to 165 regular beneficiaries from late March to September.

Region of the Year Award, sponsored by Meiko: North Region

During a very difficult year, all regions have made an exceptional effort to maintain the beating heart of the association and ensure the NACC continues to provide information, guidance and support to its members. Congratulations to the North region who retained the award for a second consecutive year. The judges praised the team, agreeing: “The North region continues to deliver for both its members and the NACC.”

Pam Rhodes Outstanding Achievement Award, sponsored by Robot-Coupe: James Clear, Hotel Services Manager, Care UK

The Pam Rhodes Award recognises the work and commitment of an individual that has made a lasting contribution to the NACC. James’ appetite for work and innovation knows no bounds. His exceptional standards of care, compassion and professionalism have gained the respect and admiration of his colleagues and the wider industry. An early adopter of the IDDSI initiative, James has developed his organisation’s training programme to ensure residents enjoy texture-modified meals that appear similar to other diner’s meals, while being safe, well-presented and appetising. He’s worked with the supply chain to develop online ordering systems to maintain stock and reduce ordering time, written numerous recipe books and is a true team player who shares his knowledge and supports the developments of those around him.

National Chair’s Award: Neel Radia

Sue Cawthray, the NACC national chair, awarded this special recognition to Neel Radia for the huge amount of work he’s done for the NACC and his many achievements. It’s clear why he was a fitting and deserved recipient of the award. As South East chair, he took the region from strength to strength with a new direction and format. Then, as national chair, he influenced and shaped not only the NACC but the future and the importance of the care catering sector. Neel’s standout successes include propelling the Meals on Wheels campaign into public consciousness and onto the political agenda and launching the first ever professional qualification in health and social care catering. His enormous generosity for the NACC and charities he supports has seen him earn prestigious industry awards, skydive and complete the London Marathon. Sue said: “There’s so much more that has been achieved by Neel, who works tirelessly for the NACC, its members and his amazing charity work.”

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