My love affair with Catey
I have had a love affair with Catey since 1987 when I worked for North Yorkshire County Council in charge of the Education Catering Service. I had just left Trusthouse Forte where I had been General Manager at three different locations; the last one was at The Craiglands Hotel in Ilkley. This is where a very young Jonathon Doughty worked for me as a student on release from Manchester Hollings University. He went on to much greater things.
In 1987 we were shortlisted for the Group Marketing Catey along with Gleneagles Hotel and Crest Hotels International. When the shortlist was announced Joe Hyam said “North Yorkshire County Council Education Catering Service.” A buzz went round the room as if to say what are they doing in the Cateys? Unsurprisingly we did not win but I vowed to come back and win the following year with a better and stronger campaign as it was good business and it raised our profile. I had been seduced by Catey.
I returned in 1988 as we were shortlisted again for the Group Marketing Catey but it was won by British Telecom. I slowly slipped back into my chair thinking that was the end of our chances for 1988. Suddenly I heard a familiar description and to my delight I had won the Foodservice Catey and I became the first public sector winner of a Catey, a title I am still very proud of, and my love was returned.
My objective was still to win the Group Marketing Catey and I was frequently shortlisted for a range of campaigns and strategies. I was delighted in 2009 when our client, CCS in Cambridgeshire, won for their Ten out of Ten campaign that increased meal numbers by 10%. The love affair continued.
There is a moral to this part of the story. I was taught that “YOU only fail in business when YOU give up.” This is so true and so often we allow ourselves to stop trying and that is when you will never achieve what you want to. Awards are brilliant but you can’t win every time but you can keep trying every time and that is the important issue.
And then we come to the Cateys 2012. What a night that proved to be and it was genuinely one of the best evenings of my life. We set off from Darlington and stayed at the Premier Inn at King’s Cross. This might not be the best accessible facility but this is made up by the fantastic attitude and help provided by the staff.
My wife and two daughters left at 6pm and as usual a taxi ignored us so we booked a HAILO Cab from a downloadable app and the service was outstanding. If you use taxis in London I would recommend this app to anyone. On arrival at Grosvenor House entrance we were expected and immediately taken via the lifts to the Great Room where we had our pictures taken and drinks were served.
Then onto the meal that was inspired by Tom Kerridge, he had done a brilliant job with the Grosvenor House banqueting team and I heard many people say how good the meal was. Next came the big event and first up was the Group Marketing Award in which we had been shortlisted with our client, LACA and their national School Meals Week 2011 campaign. I had thought our chances were good having recently read the entry and it reminded me how successful the campaign for 2011 was. We were up against Best Western and Salthouse Harbour Hotel and my congratulations and best wishes to them both.
The envelope was opened and we had won and there was a very convenient ramp right in front where I was thrilled to be alongside Lynda Mitchell, Chair of LACA, and Irene Carroll, former Chair of LACA. Irene acts as our client and provides fantastic support to the week. I settled back in my wheelchair and applauded all the other deserved winners.
The penultimate award is the Special Award and until the Lifetime Achievement Catey arrived was the top Catey. I sat wondering who I would have given it to had I been on the Editorial Team at Caterer and hotelkeeper as they are the judging panel. The first few lines of the citation meant my ideas had fallen by the wayside. Then as you can see form Amanda Afiya’s video clip the penny drops.
It was me, sheer disbelief, happiness, joy, pride and a whole host of other emotions wash over me. Catey really did love me and I truly loved Catey. But I love Catey for what she stands for and I suspect that were over 1,100 other that love Catey and her many sisters for the same reasons. As Mark Lewis, Editor of Caterer and Hotelkeeper, says in the magazine (with one very small word removed before Catey), “Two elements in particular combine to make Catey such a desirable accolade: peer-group recognition and a meticulous judging process. Candidates in each category are nominated by the readers of Caterer and Hotelkeeper. Winners are chosen by judging panels selected for their expertise and industry knowledge, and honoured before an industry audience.”
Catey went to bed with me that night and in the full knowledge of my wonderful and very supportive wife. I love her too.