The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) has awarded industry accolades to the winners of its National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs).

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) People Conference and National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs) saw over 300 people from across the sector come together to share and recognise innovation and best practice in people development.

The day conference heard  contributions from leaders from across the industry, and in addition to speakers from Greene King, New World Trading Company, Beers and Peers and KAM, guests heard from Rear Admiral Jude Terry OBE who is the first female to hold this rank. Her experience progressing through the Navy and currently heading up People and Development for over 40,000 people across the world brought new perspectives to our own people challenges.

In the evening, the National Innovation in Training Awards (NITAs) recognised the very best innovation in training, apprenticeships, and wellbeing programmes alongside outstanding individuals in people development. One of the highlights of the evening was the BII’s brand new category – Hospitality Apprentice of the Year with all finalists being real ambassadors for the future of the sector.

The evening culminated in the presentation of the Franca Knowles Live Your Life Award a very special recognition for an exceptional individual who leads by example and demonstrates that people are at the core of everything they do. This industry recognition award is in memory of the late Franca Knowles, who herself was a multiple winner at the NITAs, being a leader in people development and training. Franca took huge pleasure in seeing young team members grow and thrive. She placed immense value on investing in people, recognising the benefits for both the employer, employee and the wider industry. Keith Knowles OBE, Founder and CEO of Beds and Bars, proudly presented this year’s award to Anthony Pender for his outstanding work over many years supporting the wider industry.

Anthony Pender commented: “I am genuinely surprised and humbled to be recognised with this fantastic accolade particularly as this award has been decided by previous winners who I deeply respect and look up to.  On a personal note the Franca Knowles award and the NITAs are all about our people and I am proud to have been involved in re-establishing the NITAs as the industry awards for recognising exceptional innovation in people development. We are all very aware of the current challenges for our sector, so to see the innovation, collaboration and sharing of ideas at the BII People Conference and NITAs makes me extremely positive about the future ahead.”

The winners on the night were:

Staff Wellbeing – Individual Site Award

Caviar and Chips – Gemma Carter-Morris

Staff Wellbeing – Company Award

Beds and Bars

HR Manager of the Year Award

Jemelle Bish – Stonegate

Training Professional of the Year Award

Natalya Watson – Beer with Nat

Best Training Programme: Apprenticeships Award


Best Training Programme: Individual Operator

Tollemache Arms – Joe Buckley

Best Training Programme: Managed under 50


Best Training Programme: Managed over 50

Star Pubs and Bars

Hospitality Apprentice of the Year – Company Award

Natalija Folmer – Brewhouse and Kitchen

Hospitality Apprentice of the Year – Individual Site Award

Grace Bailey-Williams – The New Inn

Franca Knowles Live Your Life Award

Anthony Pender