What Whatley did, GM Sue Williams tells her Social Sunday story

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Supporting Social Sunday creates valuable revenues for the industry’s charity, Hospitality Action; but it can also provide benefits for participating restaurants and hotels.

Last summer, Sue Williams and Niall Keating, general manager and executive chef at Whatley Manor in the Cotswolds, decided to host a dinner for Social Sunday. Sue sits on HA’s southwest fundraising board, and she wanted her hotel to play its part.

Sue takes up the story: “Social Sunday was a bit of gift for us. Niall was in his early days at the hotel, and he took the chance to reach out to his chef-mentor, Sat Bains. Sat has the heart of lion, and said ‘yes’ in heartbeat. This meant the world to Niall, who felt humbled and thrilled, and his team was beyond excited at the prospect of working with a two Michelin-starred chef.

When Social Sunday dawned, Sat arrived with three of the big guns from his Nottingham kitchen. It was a hot summer’s day, and Sat turned up in shorts, which he kept on throughout service!

Niall and Sat ready for service.

Niall and Sat ready for service.

There was a fabulous atmosphere in the kitchen as Niall, Sat and their teams cooked. To add to the buzz, we posted regular updates on Twitter and Instagram, which sparked banter with the likes of Michel Roux Jr. Sat interacted brilliantly with Niall’s team, offering motivational words and putting an arm around their shoulders for selfies.

Revenue came from ticket sales and an auction – we were able to sell the chance to have Niall cook for guests at home twice over, which was a bonus!

We covered our food costs; and, as the event was on a Sunday, we weren’t foregoing a jam-packed dining room.

As well as raising funds for HA, the event had a really positive impact for my hotel. The whole day was massively engaging for the Whatley Manor team, who got to spend time with a British chef icon. It also did no harm to the hotel’s growing culinary credentials …

This year, we’re welcoming Mark Birchall and Gareth Ward to Whatley Manor on Social Sunday – and we’re hoping to confirm a three Michelin-starred European chef in the coming weeks.”

I’d urge you to get involved in Social Sunday 2019: as well as supporting our industry charity, you’ll be ticking the CSR box and giving your team a huge morale boost.

Jeremy Gibson