The Hospital Caterers Association (HCA) Leadership and Development Forum

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In response to an invitation from the Hospital Caterers Association, to Alan Hoskins, our Chair who was unable to attend, Eugene Cooke (a past Chair) Executive Member and Trustee attended to represent the Association. Eugene shares his experience of the Conference and Exhibition here :

“As Alan was unable to attend and other members of the Executive Team were unavailable, it was quite an easy decision for me to make, to attend and go ‘back home’. HCSA was amongst a number of other organisations that were invited and represented at the ‘Forum’.

As expected, I was made feel very welcome and was immediately amongst NHS friends and colleagues from all across the home countries.

The Conference was opened by Fionnuala Cook MBE, President who with all the Board / Council members, was piped into the conference hall to the sounds of the Star of the County Down, and to rapturous applause. The MC for the two days was none other, than local TV celebrity and commentator, Wendy Austin.

  Eugene pictured with (the previous) HCA President, Fionnuala Cook MBE, The Republic of Ireland representative and HCA Vice President, Mike Hall.


I fulfilled a boyhood ambition to meet sporting legend, Dame Mary Peters, who epitomised lots of great things about Northern Ireland, where I grew up. She was an inspiration back then and is an inspiration to many today through her legacy. (@MaryPetersTrust)

 Eugene with Dame Mary Peters

Across the 2 days, there were 52 suppliers at the exhibition, split across 3 floors of the Europa Hotel, which worked really well and the suppliers that I spoke with were high in praise for the way that delegates visited the stands.

The speakers were wide and varied and there were some excellent presentations, and a special mention has to go to Roy Lilley who opened day two, with what can only be described as an ‘effervescent display”…it certainly got the room buzzing.

It was a great experience, and it was great to be amongst so many like minded NHS Colleagues and ‘friends’ who work extremely hard to ensure the patient has the best experience in term s of ‘food’ in the healthcare / hospital setting. I was struck by how passionate they were about their subject area…just as we are about the procurement field.

The conference was followed by the customary dinner with loads of awards recognising excellence and the achievements of both individuals and team…with that same common theme….for the Patient.

The Awards ceremony and dinner took place at the Titanic Quarter in Belfast, in the shadows of the giant cranes Samson and Goliath – well known landmarks in Belfast. This was an excellent evening in beautiful surroundings with a back drop of the ‘Titanic staircase’ used to deliver the presentations and awards. The guests were subjected to some brilliant Irish Dancing and Gospel Choir music…which really did give the evening a great edge.

The Titanic Staircase

The Speakers’ Presentations for the HCA Leadership & Development Forum 2017, and the Feedback from the Vox Pops taken in Belfast are on the website. If you would like to learn more about our colleagues in HCA, then please see the link below.

Please visit:, which takes you to the HCA L&D Forum 2017 website.

(There are still tweets available to view on #hcaforum17)