As any employer will tell you, a business is only as good as its staff. Butsometimes employees don't always get the recognition they deserve. So we asked employers to send us details of their top performers so we could showcase their talents. Emma Allen rounds up some high achievers
"A fabulous personality, with never-ending patience, humour and kindness" made chef-manager Rob Dawe, 27, clear winner of the Employee of the Year award at the Ashburton Cookery School in Newton Abbot, Devon. An ex-lecturer from Exeter College, Dawe - or Elvis, as he prefers to be called - was chosen for his "inspirational delivery" in cookery classes, which have earned him numerous letters of praise and thanks from his students.
Winner at London-based events organiser Red Snapper Events, 37-year-old head chef Andrew Norris was praised for his "unparalleled dedication", including organising a company move to bigger kitchens as well as feeding more than 25,000 party-goers over the Christmas period, during which he clocked up "some very long hours". Overall, his commitment to driving high standards was a real achievement, said the company.
Sue Wardrop, general manager of the Bear at Rodborough hotel, Gloucester, picked up her Manager of the Year 2005 award for the way she successfully increased business at the hotel. Wardrop, now in her third year as manager, not only doubled conference revenue, but increased occupancy at the hotel by 5% and grew overall sales by 15%, while her efforts to use and promote local produce earned the hotel a local "most distinctive
Described as a "true star in every way" was barman Jomon Jose, 26, who won Employee of the Year at the Grand hotel in Torquay, Devon. Jose, a hospitality student on a two-year placement who has worked at the hotel for 15 months, was chosen out of 140 employees for his superb customer service skills, hard-working nature and for being a real team player.
Star performer at the Hilton Glasgow Grosvenor was head housekeeper Bea McGill, who was named Ambassador of the Year 2005. McGill, whose "positive and motivational approach" to her work has won her praise from staff and guests alike, has worked for the company for more than 12 years, becoming a key mentor to her colleagues and helping to develop the hotel's online learning system.
Chef de partie David Ferguson, 24, who works at Hilton Bristol, won his employee of the year award for being ready to rise to any challenge and "always going the extra mile". Particular praise came for his focus on health and safety over the past 12 months, which has pushed the hotel's kitchen to the top of the regional health and safety league. "David is always so keen to learn and develop and he's an extremely valued member of the whole team," said a hotel spokesman.
Singled out for her success in running a great department and a tight ship at Birmingham's Hotel du Vin - the biggest hotel in the group - was head housekeeper Sydnia Mooney, who picked up the 2005 Back of House Employee of the Year award. Mooney was commended for always going beyond the call of duty and treating her team like family.
Assistant financial controller Fiona McBurnie won the Employee of the Year award at the Chester Grosvenor Hotel & Spa in recognition of her career development at the hotel and for being "a real asset" to her team. Since starting her career in hospitality at the hotel eight years ago as a casual conference waitress, McBurnie has been promoted several times and, after two years' training, is due to take her qualifying accountancy exams soon.
Winner of the Sodexho Employee of the Year 2005 award was ship's mate James Bennett, one of the team that operates Catamaran Cruisers on the River Thames. Bennett, 58, who has been with the company six years, was chosen not only for his ongoing dedication to the job, but also for his contribution on 7 July last year, when he went out of his way to ferry home a party of lost schoolchildren after the London bombings.
For Stuart Brenchley, 24, a demi chef de partie at Sam's Brasserie, Chiswick, London, it was a combination of being willing to learn, never giving up and working incredibly hard that earned him the title of Employee of the Year, and a dinner for two was part of his prize. Head chef Rufus Wickham described him as "an accomplished member of our team who can run his section perfectly".
At contract caterer Charlton House, 33-year-old Anthony Eversden was singled out from 1,350 employees nationwide to scoop the Employee of the Year award. Eversden, a head chef at TRL in Wokingham, Berkshire, where he and his brigade of seven cater for 700 people on site, won the accolade for his dedication to staff training and development, his excellent craft skills and developing innovative business initiatives.
Described as a "rising star", 31-year-old group executive chef for hospitality Jeremy Ford won the Employee of the Year award at Compass Group's fine-dining arm Restaurant Associates. Ford, who looks after 146 chefs for 40 clients at 50 sites, impressed judges with his enthusiasm and willingness to learn. His "ability to capture enthusiasm" by taking part in competitions and setting up supplier visits helped to nurture success in other chefs.
Winner of the Ego Restaurants Employee of the Year award was 26-year-old Simon Ball, who works at Ego's Chester restaurant. Head chef Ball, who has been with the company five years, was described as "a fantastic advocate for the catering industry", and his hard work in training young members of the team and sheer professionalism in the kitchen confirmed a unanimous verdict by the judges.
At Malmaison, winner of the Front of House Employee of the Year award was 24-year-old Lucky Adelova. Starting as a trainee who spoke little English, Adelova joined the group on a placement year from Leeds University before being promoted through the ranks to become assistant brasserie manager at Malmaison Oxford last year. Known as "Mr Malmaison" because of his loyalty to the brand, Adelova gives "total passion and commitment" to the job.
At the Hilton Strathclyde, near Glasgow, food and beverage supervisor Bryan Dorman scooped the Ambassador of the Year 2005 award for his high levels of customer service, and an impressive ability to learn and develop on the job. Since starting as a conference and banqueting porter four years ago, he has been promoted several times and hopes to become a trainer at the hotel. "He has a fantastic attitude and is a role model for any employee," said his manager.
High-achieving pub lessee Scott Macrae scooped Greene King's Pub of the Year award in 2005 for his entrepreneurial spirit and impressive levels of business growth. Since taking on his lease three years ago, Macrae, of the White Hart pub in Chalfont St Giles, Buckinghamshire, has invested £500,000 in the business and has already achieved a growth rate of 240%. He aims to increase this by a further 35% in 2006. "His passion makes him a real inspiration to others and an undisputed star performer," said Greene King.
At the Radisson SAS Hotel Manchester Airport, winner of the Host of the Year award was 28-year-old stewarding supervisor Asif Khan, who has been at the hotel seven years. Khan was rewarded for his hard work in ensuring back-of-house routines always run smoothly to support every department in the hotel. "He is an absolute pleasure to work with and proves that every employee can be a great host, regardless of whether they're front or back of house," said the hotel.
Outstanding customer service and flair for innovation were just two reasons why independent contract caterer Holroyd Howe picked Mark Pearce for its Employee of the Year award. Pearce, general catering manager at Said Business School in Oxford, had not only achieved the highest levels of standards in his own unit, said the caterer, but his support of other managers and chefs through mentoring, sharing ideas and best practice made him "worthy of recognition".
At the Four Seasons Canary Wharf in London, staff were invited to vote for their 2005 Employee of the Year for the first time and the resounding winner was commis chef Eddie Kaddu, otherwise known as Rock Steady Eddie. Kaddu, 43, who has worked at the hotel for 10 years, was praised by colleagues for "always smiling", being "a wonder to watch" in the kitchen and "having a really positive attitude that lifts the rest of the team".