News / Babcock Apprentice wins the Institute of Hospitality Northern Ireland Awards – Outstanding Apprentice of the Year 2020

Winners of the 25th annual Institute of Hospitality Awards for Professionalism (NI Branch) were announced through Facebook and Twitter for the first time in the history of the awards. With the severe limitations caused by the pandemic, this year meant that the usual gala dinner was replaced with a lunch event held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Belfast. These annual awards are now acknowledged as the most significant and meaningful in the sector in Northern Ireland.

One of the winners at this year’s event was Beth Dillon, Assistant Manager at Pretty Mary’s in Moira. Beth won the Outstanding Apprentice of the Year award. She is pictured below with Roisin McKee from People 1st International and Marianne Hood who presented the award to Beth.

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Beth originally started working in hospitality as a part time job to earn some money whilst deciding what to do with her career. She initially attended University to study Art but left after three months. Beth said ‘That’s when my love for hospitality blossomed as I was taken on full-time in Pretty Mary’s and I was offered the opportunity to do an apprenticeship. Luckily I fell in love with the industry and my decision was made. I would love to stay in the hospitality industry and someday open my own business.’

New to her role as supervisor Beth started her Apprenticeship NI Level 3 in Hospitality Supervision and Leadership with Babcock Training in March 2019.

The apprenticeship gave Beth her the knowledge and confidence to thrive, with her subsequently being promoted to Senior Supervisor and then Assistant Manager. This was a massive step up as Beth was the youngest manager in the bar. Beth was also appointed as a staff representative, being responsible for employee’s welfare and improving working practices within Pretty Mary’s.

When asked what she enjoyed most about the qualification, Beth said ‘I enjoyed working with my tutor. She made the qualification suit me and focused on my style of learning. She was very approachable and I felt I could always speak to her about issues about my work. I enjoyed my observation visits as my tutor was able to see me in my work environment putting my learning into practice’. Beth also commented, ‘I have definitely learned a lot more about legislative responsibilities in hospitality and why things are done in a certain way’.

Babcock’s Regional Trainer Sarah Allen nominated Beth for the award in February 2020, due to her passion for the industry. Sarah said ‘Beth is an extremely competent learner who has been promoted twice whilst on programme’.

Beth was shortlisted as a finalist for the Silver Jubilee year of the awards which took place on Friday 16th October, over a socially distanced luncheon, where she won the Outstanding Apprentice of the Year award.

After winning the award and completing her apprenticeship, Beth commented ‘I would love to continue with education and complete a degree in Hospitality. I know that having my qualification on my CV along with winning Outstanding Apprentice of the Year 2020 will make me stand out to future employers. I have gained the skills and experience through my apprenticeship that I would never have gained otherwise.’

Beth is still passionate about art and gets numerous commissions from customers in the bar and says that art is the perfect side job. Beth’s picture she drew of Pretty Mary’s is below, showing how her art and her hospitality role are combined.

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