Joel Fagg, operations manager at Barcelo Walton Hall, has won the 2011 Acorn Scholarship. Fagg, who took the title following a final at Abode Chester last week, has won a scholarship valued at more than £7,000.
The Acorn Scholarship - now into its ninth year - is headed up by Michael Caines of Gidleigh Park, Bath Priory and Abode Hotels, along with James Horler, chairman of Ego Restaurants and William Baxter, deputy chairman of BaxterStorey.
At an event hosted by Caines, Nick Green of Villeroy & Boch and Clare Sullivan of Unilever Food Solutions, Fagg, a 24-year-old operations manager, was unveiled as the winner after beating off fierce competition from hundreds of other young talented individuals from the hospitality industry. He wins some bespoke training and career advice.
Fagg's passion and drive to become a managing director for a luxury four-star hotel group with international acclaim is highlighted by his career success to date and his senior role with Barcelo Hotels at the age of 24. As a former highly commended finalist last year, Fagg delivered an engaging presentation and highlighted his achievements in the past 12 months, having organised self-funded educational trips and become a regular speaker at local schools and colleges.
Judge William Baxter commented: "Joel is an exceptional young man with a terrific energy." Fellow judge Sean Wheeler, area human resources director of the Dorchester Collection, said: "I was impressed by how much Joel had taken on the feedback received last year and how much he had grown and matured in 12 months. His passion will make him a great ambassador for the Acorn Scholarship and he has a bright future ahead of him in the industry."
As part of Joel's bespoke scholarship, he will receive a £2,000 bursary for professional development, £1,500-worth of Learnpurple training, plus monthly coaching sessions with Learnpurple managing director Jane Sunley, a trip to Villeroy & Boch in Luxembourg, a lunch with leading industry figures to agree development and educational activity for the scholarship year, a designated mentor to guide him through the year as a scholar and Springboard UK Ambassador training.
Fagg commented: "It really is a dream come true to have won such a prestigious scholarship. It feels amazing to know that my talent and passion for hospitality has been recognised by so many industry leaders. I'm very excited about what I'll learn this year and really want to give something back to the industry by helping young people across the UK get into hospitality, which is something I feel very passionately about."
Caines said: "Joel's passion for the industry is infectious and the judges are all very confident that Joel will be a great ambassador for the scholarship and the industry."
Two further prizes were awarded to highly commended entrants John Bailey, reception shift leader at the Grand Hotel by Thistle Bristol, and Katarina Burikova, front office manager at the Cavendish Hotel, London, who each won a bursary of up to £1,000 and access to an industry mentor for 12 months.
Commenting on the two highly commended entrants, Christian Armstrong, people and development director, Guoman & Thistle Hotels, commented: "John is an example of what can be achieved by young people entering our highly dynamic sector who have the ambition, drive and commitment to succeed, regardless of age and experience. Katarina stood out as being determined, highly capable and committed not only to developing her own career in hospitality but in supporting others within her team and hotel to achieve similar success."
The Acorn Scholarship is a self-nominated award and is open to individuals who are UK residents and able to work in the UK without restriction. Previous winners include John Price of Bannatyne Hotels, Jon Reed of Learnpurple, Julie Lardie of ISS Mediclean and Rob Hartwell of Peach Pubs.
By Amanda Afiya
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