Geri, who’s based at Fulwood Court, assisted living care in Liverpool, was praised for all the extra work that she does arranging special themed dinners and events for residents all year round, making a significant difference to their lives.

Arran McDowell, HR director, Elior UK says: “Geri is a great example of someone who will go the extra mile for her customers. As an example, at the end of last year, she designed and made a special advent calendar into which she inserted individually wrapped gifts for the residents, ensuring that each one of them received a gift in the run up to Christmas. It’s wonderful that we are able to acknowledge our colleagues’ amazing work with these awards.”

For ‘creating a real buzz’ about training on site, Joy Hammel, foodservice assistant at Finchale College, Durham, won the eXperience Service Champion of the Year category. In its inaugural year, the award for Apprentice of the Year went to Stephanie McPherson, supervisor at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, for excelling in all areas of her role and being a ‘fantastic ambassador’ for apprenticeships. Toni Howes, cleaning supervisor at Bovington MoD site, won Site Colleague of the Year for being a team player and delivering the highest standard of service at all times.

All 11 award winners will receive a trip of a lifetime with four luxury nights in Capetown followed by a three day safari trip.

Hosted by TV personality and impressionist Alastair McGowan, over 250 guests from across the company attended the event at Athena in Leicester. The evening was entitled ‘Sound of the Seventies’ and featured a retro style dinner, prepared by Elior’s own top culinary team which included duck a l’orange and deconstructed Black Forest gateau. The event continued into the night with dancing to 1970s tribute band, Love Train.

Award winners:

Customer Service – Claire Thomas, catering manager, University of Lincoln

eXperience Service Champion – Joy Hammel, foodservice assistant, Finchale College, Durham

Chef Award – Paul Smith, executive chef, BT Murrrayfield

Culinary Competition – Paul McPhee, chef de partie, St Edmunds College

Star Site – Hanover Dulverton

Special Recognition – Jamie Kidd, operations manager, education

Site Colleague of the Year – Toni Howes, cleaning supervisor, Bovington

Manager of the Year (Site) – James Nicholson, site director, BT Murrayfield

Support Services Colleague of the Year – Lesley Musgrove, safety and wellbeing advisor, Elior

You Made a Difference – Geri Higgins, chef manager, Fulwood Court, Liverpool

Apprentice of the Year – Stephanie McPherson, supervisor, Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford