Robyn Jones was a true pioneer for women in hospitality.Simon Tarr
Chief Executive, People 1st
People 1st is pleased to announce that the Shine Awards lifetime achievement category is to be renamed in honour of legendary catering entrepreneur and CH&Co founder, Robyn Jones OBE, who passed away last year aged just 54.
The Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented to a woman who has demonstrated long-term dedication to the hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism industry and excellence in her career.
Previous winners include former VisitBritain chief executive, Sandie Dawe CBE, The Seafood Restaurant director, Jill Stein OBE, and Robyn Jones herself, who won the accolade in 2011.
Robyn Jones’ story is a truly inspirational one. Having started her career as a school dinner lady, she founded CH&Co with her husband, Tim, on a Government Enterprise Allowance in 1991. With a spare bedroom as her office, and armed with just a telephone directory as her customer database, she began to build her company.
Within two years, and at the height of a recession, the company had won the Booker Prize for Excellence as Best Young Business and Best Caterer.
Robyn's determination, endless enthusiasm and vision to gain a reputation for improving food at work by providing exceptional eating experiences, paid off. Following a merger with HCM Group in 2015, CH&Co today has a turnover approaching £200m, with a team of 4,500 people and 400 contracts nationwide.
Robyn was also a patron of the Association of Catering Excellence, trustee of the PM Trust, and a guardian member of the Hospitality Action charity. In 2006, she won a prestigious Catey award – the industry equivalent of an Oscar – and was named the Credit Suisse Most Outstanding Woman in Business 2007.
In addition to winning the Shine Lifetime Achievement award in 2011, she was also named as one of People 1st’s Top 100 most Influential Women in Hospitality, Leisure, Travel and Tourism. She was awarded an OBE for her services to the industry that same year.
Robyn sadly passed away at her home in September 2015, following a long illness. Her colleagues described her as “truly indomitable” and “an inspiring woman to work for”.
People 1st chief executive Simon Tarr said: “Robyn Jones was a true pioneer for women in hospitality. Our research shows that lack of visible role models is still seen as a barrier for a lot of women in the industry, and Robyn’s story was – and still is – an aspirational one that will inspire other women to aim high.
“Robyn was a valued member of our Women 1st network, and we’re proud to be able to honour her legacy through the Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement Award.”
Mark Lewis, publisher of The Caterer, which is partnering with People 1st for the Shine Awards, added: “Not only were Robyn’s business achievements in a male-dominated industry admirable, but she was passionate about giving back to the industry through her charity work too.”
Robyn’s husband Tim Jones welcomed the news and said: “Robyn was truly dedicated to the hospitality industry, and to ensuring that it made the most of its talented people. It’s wonderful to see her legacy being celebrated and continuing to inspire others in the industry she loved.”
The shortlist and winner of the Robyn Jones Lifetime Achievement award will be chosen by an expert panel of industry leaders. The winner will be announced at the Shine Awards dinner in London on 3 October.
Entries for the other seven Shine Awards categories are open now at www.theshineawards.co.uk, and will close on 25 May.