As the leading foodservice agency we get invited along to a fair few events during the year. It is fair to say that the world of foodservice is full of lavish events and gala awards, but in the blur of Park Lane venues and gourmet dinners there is one that stands out from the crowd. The FPA (Foodservice Packaging Association) Annual Awards breaks the unwritten rule that all foodservice black tie dos must be held in London, by heading off to the seaside and holding its night of the year at The Grand. In the classic opulence of this Brighton landmark the event also starts far earlier than most with afternoon tea and an exhibition of award entries for guests to peruse. Then from 6pm there are cocktails and mingling, so by the time dinner is served at 7.30pm the mood is, to say the least, ‘buoyant’.
Add to the mix a delicious meal from Alan White and his team at The Grand, a charity raffle and silent auction to raise money for Hospitality Action and Springboard, and of course, the awards themselves – you have a great night. But The FPA didn’t stop there. Oh no, this year as compere they had none other than Keith Chegwin – oft known as ‘Cheggers’! Fresh from the Big Brother house with tales of Katie Hopkins and a compere set straight out of panto, Cheggers put his all into the evening and even did his homework before the night, managing to comment on winners’ and sponsors’ websites and product ranges (on occasion informing them of things they didn’t even know!). After the fun and games, including some strictly dancing heads and tails and even a chance to win a boating experience for two (bring on the mini inflatable dingy) it was then onto the main even of the night – the awards!
I was honoured to be asked to judge the marketing award and awaited the announcement eagerly to see the consensus of the judges as the winner of the FPA Marketing Award was announced*. Myself and fellow judge Lorraine from Arena were even asked to stand up and received a somewhat embarrassing round of applause (all the time hoping that those who failed to win the marketing award didn’t ‘hunt us down’ at the bar and interrogate us as to why).
The awards culminated with the Member’s Award which is voted for (unsurprisingly) by the membership of FPA, to honour the person who has done the most to promote the foodservice packaging industry. As the description was read out it soon became clear that our friend Martin Kersh of the FPA was the winner – much deserved it was – congratulations Martin! But congratulations must also go to not only all the winners including, TriStar Packaging, Planglow*, The Smith Anderson Group, Duni, Vegware, Prêt a Manger, Euro Packing and Sybron UK, but also to the sponsors, 3663, BPI Recycled Products, Bunzl, Celebration Paper and Plastics, Wrap Film Systems (our new client), Coveris, SCA and SEDA. And finally congratulations to the team behind the FPA, including Martin, who as ever, managed to put on a fabulous event which lasted long into the wee small hours and was greatly enjoyed by all.