1148 days ago
Sodexo is always looking to improve the quality of life of students and employees at South Tyneside College, home to the world famous South Shields Marine School.
General soft services manager Eamonn Murphy heads a 24-strong catering team who run the main eating area, the Eat refectory, which has seating for 160 at ground floor level and a 60-seat gallery area. It serves breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week: 8am to 10.30am; 12pm to 1.30pm and 5pm to 6.30pm. In addition there are two Costa Coffee outlets and a convenience store. There is a separate, small unit at the Marine Safety Training Centre, a mile from the main Westoe campus, with a grab-and-go style service.
In September 2015, additional services were added to the existing contract and Eamonn’s team now also manages the Dr Winterbottom Hall halls of residence within the Westoe site. The hall has 208 bedrooms and two fitness studios. Eamonn is also responsible for the 1861 leisure centre, managing 20 college employees.
Meet the team
Click on the images below to read some of the interviews with members of the team at the site:
General soft services manager Eamonn Murphy was once a head waiter at Brighton’s iconic Grand Hotel. Originally from Liverpool, it was Brighton’s Grand where Eamonn did his training in the industry, working across all departments before becoming head waiter in the restaurant.
He has since experienced a range of roles in catering and hospitality, including working at the Kingsway Hall Hotel in Covent Garden, De Vere’s Southampton Grand Hotel, and, in Ireland, at a prestigious golf resort as well as catering for eight racecourses in the Munster region.
Eamonn also acts as a guardian for any of the students aged under 18 who are staying at Dr Winterbottom Hall , providing pastoral care where it is needed, and liaising with parents, employers and teachers.
Kate,19, is a great example of how Sodexo supports young people, having joined the college an apprenticeship scheme, working towards an NVQ in hospitality and catering. Kate’s lecturer approached Sodexo to see if there were any openings for her to gain experience and she began helping with service in the Eat refectory. Kate successfully completed her apprenticeship and passed her NVQ and has now joined the Sodexo team full time.
“I’ve always liked cooking and was inspired by my uncle, a chef who works in the hotel trade,” explains Kate. Eventually I’d like to run my own café.”
Paula’s talent for making great coffee has helped her develop and teach others and she’s now a team leader taking her level 3 NVQ.
Paula has worked at the college for 13 years but it was only after what was meant to be a temporary switch to working at the Costa outlet that she began to flourish. “I’d never made a normal coffee before, not even an instant one,” she admits. “A lady came in to do some training and it started from there.”
Paula has done so well she’s now twice been in the top 10 Sodexo baristas in the country. She’s boosted sales by 11% since September 2015, thanks to a new machine that means she can produce three coffees at once, and has also introduced a range of tasty hot snacks.
Conor initially arrived at the college to fill an office-based admin role having switched from his hotel and catering background to accountancy. But when the operations manager role came up, it was a natural fit for Conor to draw on his early hotel management experience.
Conor began in the industry as a trainee manager at De Vere’s Southampton Grand Hotel, where Eamonn also worked. When the economic downturn began to affect the hotel trade, Conor went to study accountancy as a mature student with an eye to a career change.
“It good experience working with a different side of business,” he says.
Food service assistant Amy has run the college’s convenience store since it opened and thoroughly enjoys it. “I love working here,” says Amy. “Talking to students every day is lovely. They’re such fun.”
“It’s a great experience to be running something on my own and now I’m training other people as well. I was really keen to do something to progress.”
She and Eamonn have plans to make the shop even more successful.
“We’re conscious that we are in competition with local retailers so we are making changes to become more competitive,” adds Amy.
Chef Alan helps marine students settle in to the college. He knows how the youngsters feel being away from home for the first time, having started his catering career on North Sea oil rigs as a 17-year-old.
It’s Alan’s job to cook the evening meals for up to 180 marine students, who are aged 16 to 60, in the college’s hall of residence. He also provides a Sunday morning breakfast service. “I like to chat to the students because they are away from their families,” says Alan. “I give them info on simple things like where the shops are, or what events are on in the town so that they socialise and don’t get bored at weekends. And apart from making sure they have healthy options on the menu, I also encourage use of the college gym.”
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