Service with a Smile!; They're the Creme De la Creme of the Hotel and Catering Industry in the Midlands. Today the Mail Salutes the Top Prize Winners at the Prestige Midland Association of Restaurants, Caterers and Hotels Awards. Business Editor JON GRIFFIN Reports
THE MARCH awards - the biggest prize ceremony of its kind throughout the UK - have become a firm favourite in the region in just three years.
Chairman David Grant said: 'This is the third year that the Awards of Excellence Dinner has been held at the ICC during which time it has become the largest such event in the UK, an accomplishment of which the Midlands should be justly proud.
'This year, apart from the six established categories, we added a new one for degree and HND students.
'Overall the number of entrants for all categories substantially increased, which can only add to the competitive nature of the awards.'
Midland MP Betty Boothroyd, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: 'All who have contributed to the transformation of the hotel and catering industry in the Midlands deserve the warmest congratulations.'
Mark Haysom, managing director of the Birmingham Post and Mail, said: 'As headline sponsors of the MARCH Awards for Excellence, may we congratulate all those who have participated in this year's competitions.
'This initiative is an excellent way of increasing motivation, standards through training and team spirit. The Midlands is rapidly becoming one of the most visited regions in the UK and the hospitality industry is a key to this success.
'We are delighted to be involved and working in partnership to keep the industry staffed, motivated and together promoting the region.'
Birmingham Lord Mayor Coun Ian McArdle said: 'These awards are making an important contribution to enhancing the already excellent standards in the tourism and leisure industry in the region.'
Birmingham City Council leader Coun Albert Bore said: 'Birmingham is becoming more and more a tourism and leisure destination.
'It has become an exciting place to visit. This is in no small way due to the people that the awards are celebrating.'
John James, Chief Executive of Birmingham Forward, said: 'Many congratulations to all who have entered this year's competitions and to MARCH for promoting the high quality hospitality industry we enjoy in the area.'
Star Hannah reveals her recipe for success
HANNAH Beard is the Midlands' top catering worker - at the tender age of just 21.
Yorkshire-born Hannah, who works on a casual basis at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Birmingham, was delighted to win the Food and Beverage Assistant category in the March Awards for Excellence.
And she was totally bowled over by the end of the evening when she was nominated as the Grand Finale Winner, beating hundreds of competitors from throughout the Midlands.
The double honour provided a massive early career boost for Hannah, who is in the third year of a degree course at the Birmingham College of Food, Tourism and Creative Studies.
'It was a total surprise for me when I won the awards. I never expected to win anything at all, I just entered for the experience.
'The job entails serving food and waitressing and I think the key to it is to have a smile on your face and treat everybody the same.
'You do occasionally get some difficult customers and you have to learn to deal with them as best you can.
'I really love working at the Crowne Plaza because everybody works together as a team and I have made a lot of friends in my time there. Everybody helps everybody else.'
But Hannah could soon be lost to the Midlands if she achieves her career ambitions.
'I finish my degree next year and I hope to get transferred back home to the Crowne Plaza in Leeds. I like it here in Birmingham but I prefer Leeds.
'My ambition is to train as a restaurant manager. I really love working in hotels and I've always wanted to do it ever since I was a child.'
Hannah is now looking forward to enjoying her star prize -a trip to France with her boyfriend Nathan Hazelhurst, a policeman back in Leeds. …