Northern Ireland Branch News

From Deborah McNeill

The Northern Ireland Branch has had a busy summer as it starts to find its feet again. On 22 July members had a virtual tour of the new kitchen in the Ulster Hospital, which is scheduled to open in November 2021. This kitchen has been designed to prepare and cook fresh approximately 500 meals three time a day, and is superbly equipped with – amongst other equipment – Rational combi ovens and Vario Cooking Centres, a Hobart rack dishwasher and pot and pan wash, a Moffatt single-tray hot and cold meal delivery system, Hackman tilting kettles with in-built stirrers, and Frymaster oil conserving filtration fryers.

The layout has a separate raw meat prep area, a cooked, ready-to-eat prep area, and an allergen prep area. We have everything we need to make tasty and nutritious meals safely for our patients, staff and visitors. The tour was followed by a Branch meeting and we were honoured to be joined by our National Chairman, Brian Robb, and our National Treasurer, Janice Gillan.

On 4 August we met at the beautiful setting of Glenarm Castle to have a socially distanced afternoon tea, which was a long-overdue celebration of the careers of four of our members as they enter their retirement. Maire Bermingham, Declan Belton, Violet Davidson, and Stephen Hayter have more than 120 years of catering experience between them, meaning they bring considerable knowledge to our Branch, and they have all been active members of the Branch for many years: Maire was Chair from 2004–2005 and Stephen was Treasurer. The afternoon tea was attended by new and not so new members who had worked with Maire, Declan, Violet and Stephen over the years and many a good story was told – the craic was as good as the weather, with both holding up throughout the day. We would like to thank Stephen’s Catering for generously sponsoring the delicious afternoon tea.

It should be noted, and it will be obvious from the photographs, that this is early retirement for most of them.

On 1 September Brian Robb, Janice Gillan and National Vice Chair Stuart Wray joined us for a virtual presentation and Q&A session from Robert Lamont, Environmental Health Manager for Food Safety and Consumer Safety with Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, about Natasha’s Law. Thirty-five members joined the two-hour session, demonstrating that the interest in this was apparent, and many points were discussed and clarified; feedback from members afterwards was that they felt better equipped to prepare for the launch date.

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