Queen awards hospitality prize to London restaurant manager
The Queen has recognised the latest rising star of the hospitality industry by awarding her a prestigious national prize.
Restaurant manager Jennifer Santner, 24, reacted with disbelief when she was named as the winner of this year's Gold Service Scholarship.
The Swiss-born manager, who works at the Fenchurch Restaurant at Sky Garden on the top of the walkie-talkie building in London, was awarded the honour during a ceremony held at London's exclusive Claridge's hotel.
Ms Santner, who came to the UK to improve her English but decided to stay after falling in love with London, said: "I can't believe it. It's really nice to be recognised this way, it's good for the industry and it will reflect on Sky Garden and the Fenchurch."
The winner competed alongside seven other national finalists at The Connaught, Mayfair earlier this month, serving wine and dishes to a table of four, to secure the sought-after title.
Speaking about her fellow finalists, she said: "The toughest thing was they're all really, really good and I'm really surprised that I won the award. But the toughest thing is the nerves you have to deal with on the day."
Writing in the official programme for the event, the Queen, who is patron of the award, said: "By recognising the country's best talent, the Gold Service Scholarship encourages people to improve their skills and subsequently pass on their knowledge to others.
"The Scholarship also aims to motivate aspiring professionals so that service and hospitality will increasingly become one of the top career choices for young people."
Now in its fourth year, the Gold Service Scholarship is an annual competition for young, front of house professionals working in the hospitality industry.
It aims to raise the profile of hospitality and service skills in the UK, recognise the country's best talent, and to motivate aspiring young workers.
The winner will receive a prize package of mentoring opportunities, travel and placements from a group of the most senior service professionals in the country.
Alastair Storey, chairman of the Scholarship's Trustees, said about the importance of recognising young talent from the hospitality and tourism industry: "The industry makes up 8% of GDP in the UK.
"We desperately need young, ambitious, bright people to come into the industry, and we need to advertise the industry.
"And so to have Her Majesty the Queen come here and endorse what the industry is doing through the Gold Service Scholarship is just a massive boost."