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Lifetime Achievement Award: Neil Porter

9th Apr 2024 - 11:50

After completing his City & Guilds at college at 18, Neil began his career with Avon County Council and within four months was appointed to his first kitchen manager post.

Four years later he became manager of a secondary school and in 1986 took up the role of catering manager of the City of Bristol College where he helped set up, develop and expand the catering service to students while also studying for the HCIMA (now Institute of Hospitality) qualification over five years.

Neil then entered into contract area management with Avon County Catering Services, later transferring to Bristol City Council to head its catering, cleaning, print services and centralised stores function where the catering service alone turned over £6m a year.

He left in 2005 to join HBG Facilities Management (which rebranded as BAM in 2008) as an FM manager. He is currently area manager for the Midlands and Western regions.

At the same time as he has enjoyed a successful career managing catering and other services, he has had a very full and long-term involvement with LACA, the schools meals organisation.

He first joined in 1991, which was just a year after the body came into existence, and has been an active member of the South West Region ever since, chairing it from 2001-2004.

In 2002 he was appointed to the National Executive, retaining that place when LACA’s constitution changed and the executive became instead the Board of Directors. He remains a member.

He is one of just three LACA chairs to have served two terms of office, taking the helm from 2004-2005 and then again from 2008-2009. The second time saw him faced with representing school caterers during the introduction of new nutritional standards in the wake of TV chef Jamie Oliver’s exposé of school meals on Channel 4.

Since 2008 he had headed LACA’s Events Group (formerly the Training & Development Committee), which oversees the association’s showpiece annual conference and exhibition known as the Main Event.

His time in charge has seen the event grow in size and importance, adding extra attractions such as the chef skills salon Finishing Touches, the final of the School Chef of the Year and, most recently, the addition of the Grab & Go Challenge.

In the last few years he has taken on the newly created role of Business Director for LACA, nominally a one-day a week commitment but Neil is well known for putting in much more time than that.

Hilary Witt, LACA’s Chair of Finance and Administration and a founder member of the organisation has known Neil a long time and worked with him closely. She says: “He’s unflappable, and a joy to work with. He always looks for the positive and focuses on finding a solution for any problem.”

Recently Neil stepped up his work with the Institute of Hospitality to taking on the role of chair its South West Region.

He won the Educatering Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 and has twice been awarded the LACA Chair’s Award – in 2010 and 2022.

PSC Alliance