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FCSI UK & Ireland 2017 AGM: FCSI is in demand, says chair Julian Edwards

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The annual general meeting for FCSI UK & Ireland was held at Dartmouth House, London, and featured presentations from chairman Julian Edwards FCSI, treasurer Matthew Merritt-Harrison FCSI and Lynne Regent, CEO, Anaphylaxis Campaign

“FCSI is in demand. We’re pertinent to any operator looking for professional consultants,” said Julian Edwards FCSI, at the FCSI UK & Ireland 2017 AGM, held at Dartmouth House, London on Thursday 7 December.

“What a year 2017 has been,” said Edwards. Acknowledging 2016 was a year of change for the country unit as it regrouped following a break and subsequent recoupling with FCSI Europe, Africa and Middle East, Edwards expressed his pleasure at how the unit has had a continued, high-level presence at leading industry shows, partner conferences and hosted it’s own unique events.

“There were whispers at start of the year – some people were asking ‘What’s happening?’ Now, there is a lot happening. We kicked off the year with a bang at The Great Hospitality Show in Birmingham, while, for me, the highlight of the year was our event at the Mercato Metropolitano in mid March. Then, in Late March we had the CEDA conference. CEDA are a great bunch who recognise how important FCSI is to this market,” said Edwards.

Influence

In Early April FCSI UK & Ireland also had a significant presence at the Cost Sector Catering magazine’s PS100 Meeting and The Cost Sector Awards. “The meeting was hijacked by Teresa May’s annoucement of a flash general election but, unlike many of the other presentations that got cancelled because of that, we were still asked to present on the topic of sugar and salt levels in public sector catering and obesity. Our expertise is recognised as extremely influential in terms of future catering specification,” said Edwards.

A number of FCSI UK & Ireland Professional and Allied members attended the FCSI EAME Conference in mid April in Vienna, Austria. “It was pretty spectacular and a great learning zone,” said Edwards who also highlighted FCSI’s successful presence at the Commercial Kitchen Show in Birmingham in June. “That was the pièce de résistance,” said Edwards, who was part of a Foodservice Consultant expert panel session on the future of the industry at the show.

“We saw a lot of foreign allied members at the show. FCSI is in demand. We’re on the banner. We are supporting these events and we have hopefully been a little bit clever and thrifty with how we organise our own events – hosting meetings at major shows. We also have something special lined up for Hotelympia 2018, which will be revealed shortly.”

Edwards praised the success of two ‘Education Days’ the unit has hosted this year. The first, at University of London in late June and the second at at RSA House in October. “They are a great opportunity for learning,” said Edwards. “We had phenomenal speakers and we all came away with something substantial. One of the topics addressed, that of food waste is set to be a significant one for the unit next year, said Edwards.

“The subject of food waste will be our most salubrious topic in 2018. I think FCSI can help to approve and agree standards. It’s up to us to write standards. We don’t need to wait for the EU or government. Over the years FCSI members have been instrumental in creating standards. We have joined the NHS packaging task force as part of their forum of experts and we are looking to create joint working events and training workshops with other organisations such as CIBSE, RIBA and BIFM. We are planning some guides for their members and speaker opportunities at their events. I have every confidence in FCSI going through the roof and being a great success.”

Solid footing

Treasurer Matthew Merrit-Harrison FCSI, also addressed members at the AGM. He revealed FCSI UK & Ireland for Professional and Allied membership rates will stay the same in 2018. “Everyone is under pressure. We want to deliver value,” he said. He also announced there would be no turnover levy to be charged in 2018 and highlighted a raft of “sponsorship opportunities at all our events as well as special projects and reports. We want to thank our Allied members.”

2016, said Merrit-Harrison, was not a good year, “because of circumstances surrounding us,” but 2017 had put FCSI UK & Ireland in “a much more positive position. FCSI EAME have been extremely good to us in 2017. Finances are back on a solid footing. It’s very encouraging going forward. For us it’s about quality and delivering real value for members.”

Edwards urged members to take advantage of “the great publishing and PR support” available to members and announced a new FCSI UK & Ireland website that will launch later this month www.fcsi.org.uk. “In addition we are building relationships with the media. Our knowledge and experience is second to none in this industry. Educational webinars will also a big opportunity for us in 2018.”

In terms of 2018 plans, Edwards announced a wine tasting and food pairing event on 8 February at Bedales, Leadenhall Market in London, while FCSI UK & Ireland will be exhibiting at Hotelympia at ExCel, London, on 5-8 March and hosting a meeting and evening event on 6 March. 16 May will see another Education Day, with the venue to be confirmed. The Commercial Kitchen Show at NEC in Birmingham on 5-6 June will feature a further FCSI meeting and evening event on 5 June. There will be a meeting at the National Catering Equipment Centre in Bristol in early July.

Edwards also encouraged members to attend the FCSI EAME Conference Rotterdam, the Netherlands, on 18-20 October. “I want a very big presence there. We want your attendance en masse. It will be a very special event,” he told members. “We want to do more with our membership and offer greater opportunities for our Allied members to sponsor reports, which will have a national significance, and activities that will take the Society to another level.”

A raffle at the AGM saw more than £900 raised for Anaphylaxis Campaign, a charity supporting people with severe allergies. Lynne Regent, CEO, Anaphylaxis Campaign, spoke at the AGM and praised Edwards for his “hands on, kind support” of the charity, which receives no government funding and has a huge challenge to raise awareness. With allergies on the increase and affecting 1-2% of adults and 5-8% of children in the UK, Anaphylaxis Campaign’s #Take the kit initiative is designed to encourage children to carry their adrenaline kits and members were shown a hard-hitting video highlighting the initiative and urged to support ‘Orange wig day’ on 18 May 2018.

Michael Jones