KFR Interviews… Simon
Beginnings? Local lad? Schools etc? Previous employment?
I’m not a Wiltshire lad but born and raised in Spalding Lincolnshire. I attended St John Gleed High School Spalding. I knew from a young age I had set my heart on joining the military and realised my wish in 1993. I became an apprentice in the Army Catering Corps later the Royal Logistic Corps. During my early catering training, I achieved a Gold Medal Winner-Le Salon Culinaire International de Londres for works in pastilage, and miniatures to create centrepieces. I achieved many diplomas in catering including City & Guilds, Hotel & Hospitality awards and I became a fully-fledged military chef. Using my range of skills, I was deployed almost worldwide supporting British troops as a qualified military chef, including the Royal Artillery, a Field hospital, the Royal Signals, and the Gurkhas. I served in Belize C.A, Cyprus, Northern Ireland (Newry), Bosnia and the United States of America. Visiting some locations several times.
Juliet Comments… Perhaps readers can understand through Simon’s skills as a highly qualified chef the meaning of the words ‘An army marches on its stomach’ attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte. Because an effective army on campaign relies on good and plentiful food, essential to survival. The military depends on personnel like Simon!
When did you leave the military and return to Civvy Street?
2001. I worked as Head Chef in 2 public houses for several years in Salisbury with responsibilities for all stock rotation, health and hygiene, menu planning, and commodity costing.After time in Salisbury, I moved to Devizes as Warehouse Manager at Morrison’s, followed by becoming Store Manager for Johnson’s Dry Cleaners. Responsible for varied tasks in both positions staff training, control of hazardous chemicals, and stock orders, whilst adhering to company policies.
And the position you hold within KFR, the current responsibility?
A chance encounter on a local canal bank in 2009/10 with a trustee of KFR directed me to apply for the position of volunteer van driver. My life had taken a spiral downwards, low mentally and physically I was in need of a focus which KFR provided. I progressed to becoming a salaried member of staff and now proudly hold the position of KFR Operational Supervisor. My responsibilities are to look after the Van fleet, the route planning, and the drivers and crew members, as well as assisting in the warehouse and office as required.
What do you find are the most satisfying moments within the KFR work environment?
A really good update and appraisal from the General Manager of KFR! A position I am proud of and enjoying the reward of really hard work.
What did you find difficult, how do you problem-solve?
Always the best route is talking, if any member of the Van teams or warehouse staff is unhappy with ongoing problems, we will find time for discussion and look for a solution. It works.
In a couple of rock bottom years when I was struggling, I contacted several military veteran pages on Facebook and started to get involved with – Rolling Thunder https.//rollingthunderuk.com – which, apart from my position at KFR is the best thing I have ever done. Rolling Thunder is a large group of HM Forces veterans and supporters who started campaigning but now have moved on to raising awareness about mental health offering friendship and support. Rolling Thunder is worldwide with numerous meets and rides across the U.K, communicate online, take part in RT activities and many are bikers. I am now saving up for a bike! Another group of Veterans has a dedicated monument and memorial to the fallen on the farm of a veteran where a PTSD camp has been established near Bath. Remembrance Day is commemorated and cabins or camping facilities are available for holidays/ breaks. My brother is blind and with his guide dog Victor we were invited to attend a Buckingham Palace garden party in May 2023. The food was exceptional; let’s face it Simon would know!
Currently, I am enjoying Chinese cooking, but roast chicken, steak and chips are still tops.
Simons relax time out of office?
I have tropical fish tanks which provide great relaxation. Plus, all the Rolling Thunder activities I take part in. This year my brother, guide dog Victor and I are proudly taking part in the Remembrance Sunday parade at the Cenotaph in London.
Thank you Simon!