RAU restaurant manager scoops prestigious Rising Star award

13 October 2023

A young restaurant manager who went above and beyond to keep stranded and isolating students fed during the Covid pandemic has scooped the Rising Star award at last night’s Gloucestershire Live Business Awards.

Having initially started working at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU) part time while he attended Cirencester College, Charlie Savage, 26, joined the RAU as a full time Catering Assistant in 2015 after leaving college.

Charlie, who grew up in Siddington and went to Deer Park School, now manages a team of 16 providing all the front of house services at the Cirencester-based University. On a daily basis, Charlie and his team cater for more than 1,100 students and 200 staff as well as managing the catering and service for more than 12,000 visitors a year who attend the University’s many corporate and commercial events.

Nominating Charlie for the award, RAU Commercial Services Director Teresa North said: “Charlie’s passion in life was to pursue a career in hospitality and catering and we very quickly spotted his capabilities and professional work ethic. 

“For a young person, his attention to detail and confidence with the customer, as well as his proactive approach to dealing with the daily hiccups the industry provides, were all just so natural for him. 

“Every day he strived to achieve and better the service the restaurant provided with customer satisfaction at the heart of everything he did. When the role of Restaurant Manager came up, Charlie was the obvious choice.”

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Charlie was instrumental in coordinating and managing the delivery of catering to many of the University’s international students who were left stranded in the UK when travel restrictions were imposed. 

Teresa added: “Charlie had no template, no guidelines - just a desire to care and to achieve. Once students were allowed to return to campus, the inevitable happened and we had hundreds in isolation but even then Charlie was unphased.

“He worked with his team to ensure the regular delivery of three meals per day to those in lock down no matter what! Now we are back to business as usual, Charlie continues to raise the standards and customer satisfaction levels at the RAU.”

Fuelled by Charlie’s own ambition to learn and develop, the RAU has continued to support his professional development. In recent years, he has achieved a Wine & Spirit Education Trust accreditation as well as management qualifications and he continues to identify opportunities for further career enhancement, for both himself and his team, taking a particular interest in delivering a sustainable approach. 

Teresa said: “The RAU recognises talent and grows its own and we are so lucky to have such an amazing young person who is so totally committed to both the business and the environmental strategy and we will continue to further develop his amazing skills set.”

Charlie was presented with his award at a black-tie event hosted by Iwan Thomas MBE at Cheltenham Racecourse last night. The awards, which are run in association with Reach plc and Gloucestershire Live, celebrated the achievements and resilience of the region's business community.

He said: “I have always felt that we could improve the way we do things at the RAU. I have visited some other places and it is always interesting to see the different ways in which things are done and how some are doing certain things better than we are.

“I always think there is more that I can do and I want to make things the best they can be so, when the opportunity came up to move into management and to try and make some changes, I just couldn’t say no.

“While there are still challenges to overcome, the management team at the RAU has been really supportive and taken the time to get to know me and to explain things to me which has helped myself and the team to make changes and progress.

“When they read out my name as the winner it was such a shock - I genuinely didn’t expect to win! But I really couldn’t do my job without my team of staff who I know and can trust to do what needs to be done. This award is for all of them as much as it is for me.”

Teresa concluded: “Charlie is always cheerful and enthusiastic no matter how challenging the task is. He embraces and relishes responsibility way beyond his years and always delivers. His positive “can do” approach is infectious and his team follow his exemplary lead.

“I am delighted that his enthusiasm, commitment, and professionalism is no longer just known to the RAU and its customers. I am so happy for him to have received this recognition for his achievements and I am privileged to work with such a rising star.”