Cateys 2021: Public Sector Caterer Award: Alison Shedlock, the University of Manchester

08 September 2021
Cateys 2021: Public Sector Caterer Award: Alison Shedlock, the University of Manchester

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The leader of one of the largest university catering and event teams in the north of England, Alison Shedlock has revolutionised the delivery of catering and events by incorporating ethical and sustainable options.

Her commitment to the environment and sustainability was fundamental to Manchester University being named the world's best university for action taken towards the United Nations' sustainable development goals in the Times Higher Education's impact rankings 2021. With universities from 98 countries taking part, Manchester topped the overall table as well as taking first place for its work on sustainable cities and communities, and responsible consumption and production.

Shedlock has a passion for sustainability and took a lead role in achieving the Sustainable Restaurant Association's awards on campus: three stars for the catered halls and Greenhouse Café, and two stars for the bistro. The university has a sustainable food policy, and Shedlock is on its sustainability steering group.

On the ground Shedlock and her team have transformed the catering space in the main university building into an indoor street food market. The project involved collaborations with local independent traders, creating a food and drink offer of unparalleled variety. The Manchester model is used in the TUCO (the professional membership body for in-house caterers operating in the higher/further education and public sector) study tour.

Shedlock and her team also made monumental efforts during the pandemic to keep students safe and properly nourished. During the first term of the crisis, the university had thousands of students in isolation. Those in catered halls had meals prepared by a team of in-house chefs delivered to them while those in non-catered halls were given meals until they were able to buy basic supplies. Working with local independent food traders the university delivered over 6,000 meals. Shedlock also managed the university's lateral flow test sites, which carried out over 15,000 tests.

What the judges said

"Alison showed true commitment to the health and wellbeing of students during the pandemic, and her brave decision-making supported ethical and sustainable options in the industry." - Sue Cawthray

"She has shown a dedication to customers throughout the difficult times of the pandemic while being mindful of the economic stresses. She has given small businesses the chance to showcase their wares to a lively and motivated audience. Her approach to sustainability has not been deflected by the pandemic and is an inspiration to many within the wider industry." - Craig Smith

"Her reach across the industry and her personal endeavours to promote the public sector are formidable. Alison is a genuine example of all that is good about public sector catering, and her innovation, willingness to take brave commercial decisions and charitable work make her a truly deserving winner of this award." - Matthew White

The shortlist

  • John Figgins, West Sussex County Council
  • Molly Shaher, Professional Association for Catering Education (PACE) and Middlesbrough College
  • Alison Shedlock, the University of Manchester

The judges

  • Sue Cawthray, chair, National Association of Care Catering (NACC)
  • Mark Davies, managing director, ISS UK Food Services
  • Andy Jones, owner, AJ Associates
  • Vic Laws, director, AVL Consultancy
  • Neel Radia, framework account manager (public and consortia), Brakes Group
  • Craig Smith, chair, Hospital Caterers Association
  • Preston Walker, owner, Oak House Residential Home
  • Matthew White, director of campus commerce, University of Reading
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