An ambitious Hospitality Apprentice from Stratford-upon-Avon College is well on her way to achieving her dream of setting up her own catering business.

Sarah Collett, 17 from Cheltenham, has been an apprentice at the Cotswold Food Store & Café, Moreton-in-Marsh, since October 2017. She is particularly pleased to be working there as its owners, husband-and-wife team Bernard and Joanne Williams, have a policy of using only local produce and suppliers, something Sarah herself believes in passionately.

Sarah became interested in the hospitality industry while still at school. With food technology her favourite subject, and also having an interest in business, her ambition was to combine the two by setting up her own catering business. “I was looking at marketing apprenticeships originally, but I really enjoy working with people so I decided that hospitality would be the best route for me.”

Hospitality Apprentice Sarah Collett with Cotswold Food Store & Café owner Bernard Williams

Sarah is delighted to find that her apprenticeship duties are covering a wide variety of skills, and her employers in turn value the contribution she is making to all aspects of their business – she is involved in everything from preparing and serving food and drink, to looking after its social media accounts and organising festivals and events that take place in its grounds. She describes her favourite part of the job as “being front of house and involved with the customers. It’s different every day which always makes the job interesting. I love meeting new people and doing my best for the business.”

At first unsure about the benefits of taking on an apprentice, Bernard and Joanne are now confident they made the right decision in employing Sarah, who has become a real asset to the Cotswold Food Store and even has her own say in certain business decisions – particularly impressive for someone of her young age. Commenting on her professionalism and versatility, Bernard cannot sing her praises enough: “Sarah is brilliant. She’s very good with all our customers. She may be 17 but she conducts herself as though she had years of experience.”

Supported by the College all the way from identifying a suitable workplace, through interview preparation, to on-going relevant skills training, Sarah herself is glad she took the apprenticeship route rather than staying in full-time education. “I knew I wanted to be in a working environment. I love the apprenticeship; I get very hands on with all the different aspects of the business. You’re able to use your own initiative a lot more. I’m learning things and I’m allowed to make decisions on my own. You get paid as well which is good!”

As for her ultimate ambition: “I’m really hoping to set up my own catering business using the experience I’ve gained here, and exclusively use local produce, something I feel passionate about having grown up on a farm. At the Cotswold Food Store, one of the core values is using local produce and suppliers, so I’d really like to continue that ethos in my own business.”

Find out more about the College’s range of apprenticeships.