Our scholars

2018 Scholar
Sandra Preciado
Events operations manager
Rosewood London

June 2018 Update

Since posting my first blog for the Acorn Scholarship I have been asked regularly about the content of the original presentation to the scholarship judges. So here are the abridged details.

I was 23 years old when I left my country Spain to travel to London – what was to become the city of opportunities!

I came with the idea of learning English, to work to improve my language skills and apply for a job in a bank.

After three days in London, I found my first job as a waitress in a catering company where I learnt the basics of the hospitality industry. I also felt the pain in your knees you get when you have been standing up for more than 12 hours. I was promoted to supervisor after a year. I then told my parents I didn’t want to work in a bank anymore. I was happy being a waitress. However, I wanted to be more involved with the clients and guests.

My next step – was as a waitress at the Shangri-La hotel for the events department. I was part of the pre-opening team and I won’t lie to you, it wasn’t easy. For those that have had experience of an opening you know what I’m talking about.

I was working non-stop, we had a waiting list for events to take place at level 34. My day consisted of working breakfast, lunch and dinner for seven days a week. I was exhausted but at the same time I was excited because I was learning so much.

My team were amazing (the dream team) and the views!

My experience during my time at the Shangri-La can be summarised in this quote: “When you face difficult times, know that challenges are not sent to destroy you. They are sent to promote, increase and strengthen you.” Joel Osteen

My next adventure in London came with The Rosewood hotel starting as a floor manager. You feel scared joining a new company and lost but I can tell you now that its normal and it is something we face. I had the opportunity to show how much I love my job and how much I do care about learning.

After a few months The Rosewood promoted me to assistant events manager and my goal to become an events operations manager was edging ever-closer.

I have learned that loving what you do will always pay off – it might take time, but if you fight for it, it will come to you. I had a lot to learn in my new role – but I listened to my colleagues and they have become family. The Rosewood has given me the tools to become a professional and develop my passion.

I want to share this message with everyone who is thinking of joining this industry.

My tips:

  • Focus learn and work hard
  • Don’t think about the negatives – and absorb the positives
  • Fight for it like you would fight for a candy when you were a kid
  • Time pays off soon or later

After 6 years in London here I am, Events Operations Manager at Rosewood London, a stunning property where I am treated like a person and not as a number.

Remember this: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity” Albert Einstein.


The day had arrived.

After weeks of preparation and writing down my thoughts for my Acorn Scholarship presentation on the tube, waking up in the middle of the night, deleting, and re-writing and two days of sheer excitement – jumping like a kid on my bed.  There I was, in front of the judges for The Acorn scholarship 2018.

As I began I could feel my heart pumping hard in my chest; my legs and hands were shaking so hard.  But I managed to start talking and described my journey and ambitions to the judges.

I think I had the judges’ attention, I got a few laughs and they were genuinely interested in my story and as quickly as it had started it was over and the questions began. I wasn’t nervous anymore because whilst I had been talking I’d realised I was partly there because I’ve been strong in the past – I didn’t waste the opportunity.

I walked around Manchester in the afternoon (the judging and awards dinner were held at the Principal in Manchester).  In the evening my boyfriend joined me for the awards dinner.  He’d supported me all the way through my application process and listened to my presentation over and over!

At 9pm all the awards finalists were presented with a certificate alongside the sponsors for a photo opportunity.  Then the big moment.  The winner’s announcement.

As the name was announced, I was looking to my right and my left thinking when is the winner going to stand up? Until my boyfriend turned to me and said: “Sandra, it’s you. You are the winner. You won!”

Shocked is an understatement!

Lisa Jenkins (chair and judge of the Acorn Scholarship) presented me with the Award and I managed to keep it together just long enough for a winner’s photograph.  My legs were shaking again, and back at our table, the tears came.

All those years of survival and fight had paid off.

Sandra 20171127_230438 certificate resizedBack at work later the following day all my Rosewood colleagues congratulated me.  The win was announced in The Caterer and online and again I felt like I was dreaming. I also had another article published in the local paper for Diario de Burgos, in Spain where I was born – another big achievement that I never imagined.

With regards to Rosewood, they have shown me 100% trust and support and just this month, six years to the day of my arrival in the UK, I was promoted to the role of events operations manager – a dream came true.

All I can say is a big thank you to everyone who made this possible.

“Be thankful for what you are now and keep fighting for what you want to be”.

I think the Acorn Scholarship will change my life – watch this space……






2017 ScholarAcorn Scholarship-lee bye
Lee Bye
chef patron
Tuddenham Mill

Since winning the 2017 Acorn Scholarship at the end of 2016, my role at Tuddenham Mill has changed dramatically.

I have stepped up from the position of head chef of the 20-bedroom boutique hotel and now oversee all operations of the business, including managing the hotel, events and restaurant teams, as well as continuing to be involved in the food offer and menu development.


2016 Scholar
Charlotte Horler
Operations Manager, Hotel Collection Billesley Manor hotel


When I won the Acorn Scholarship in November 2015, I knew it was going to open doors for me and heighten my exposure as well as my career within the hospitality industry but who would have thought there were so many doors waiting to be opened? From trips abroad to networking events, mentoring to the Cateys.  The past six months have been absolutely life changing!

After presenting to 10 of the industry’s most successful business people at Westminster Kingsway College, London, back in November 2015, I was delighted to be announced as the Acorn Scholar for 2016.

During my scholarship year I visited the Villeroy & Boch headquarters in Luxembourg with Nick Green and the young chefs of the year.  I attended the Catey’s and many networking events around hospitality and employee engagement.  I even attended Hospitality Action’s Big Quiz of the Year!

The highlight for me was having two mentors: Sean Wheeler and Jo Harley (see mentor’s page) – their support and guidance was invaluable. Jo really pushed me into connecting with people and assessing my personal management style to make the most of my skills.

Sean welcomed me into his professional life with shadowing days which focused on operations as well as people development in a luxury market.

I also secured a new role as front of house manager, Montague on the Gardens, (Red Carnation Hotels) – a role I probably wouldn’t have considered for myself prior to being awarded the Scholarship and having my mentors’ support and motivation throughout the year.

If anybody is weighing up entering the Acorn Scholarship this year – Just Do It! It will enhance your career more than you can ever imagine. You don’t need all the answers or years of experience – you need passion, dedication and motivation.  The rest will just follow! Good Luck!

daniel-loughlin-tile-150x1502015 Scholar
Daniel McLoughlin
Opening project manager of Shoda Café & Restaurant


Daniel demonstrated a real passion to better himself through the guidance and development of the Acorn Scholarship. He returned in 2014 to face the Scholarship judges and his enthusiasm and determination was very apparent to us all. It was clear that here was an individual that needed help to realise his full potential and we knew that we could provide him with some really beneficial introductions and experiences in to the world of casual dining and business management. “A very talented individual – in fact one day he’ll work for me” – James Horler

sam-roth-tile-150x1502014 Scholar
Sam Roth
Project Manager at BaxterStorey




lewis-gallagher-150x1502013 Scholar
Lewis Gallagher
Provenance Food Hall and Restaurant



simon-houston-150x1502012 Scholar
Simon Houston FIH
Sales Director, Bartlett Mitchell




joel-fagg-150x1502011 Scholar
Joel Fagg
Assistant Director (Operations) at University of Derby



will-torrent-150x1502010 Scholar
Will Torrent
Consultant chef, Waitrose and author of Patisserie at home



simone-sylvestre-150x1502009 Scholar
Simone Sylvestre
Co Owner at Berlin Costelaria



rob-hartwell-150x1502008 Scholar
Rob Hartwell
Head Chef, The Almanack




julie-lardie-150x1502007 Scholar
Julie Lardie
Nutrition & External Affairs Manager at Cereal Partners UK




Kelly Widley2006 Scholar
Kelly Widley
General Manager, Pier Point Restaurant and Bar




naime2005 Scholar
Naime Torgut (left in picture)
Director of Events and Travel at The Aspiration Group



jon_reed-150x1502004 Scholar
Jon Reed
Operations Director, Purple Cubed



john-price-150x1502003 and inaugural Scholar
John Price
Ginger Village Pubs

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>