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HIT Heroes Winners Unveiled in Celebration Event

Posted on 29 March, 2022


Following a closely fought public vote, the final winners were announced in a superhero style presentation to champion the fantastic work of both apprentices and apprenticeship employers across the country. Ten winners were announced in the ceremony including overall Apprentice of the Year and Employer of the Year.  

The HIT Heroes Awards aim to recognise the important role that apprenticeships play in empowering people of all ages and walks of life in the hospitality industry. The awards also highlight the individual drive and development of apprentices to become future hospitality leaders.

Jill Whittaker, Managing Director of HIT Training Ltd, says: “We are hugely proud of our inspiring apprentices and employers who have shown an unquenchable drive and passion for our industry. “The HIT Heroes Awards are a special date in our calendar because we celebrate the vital role they play when it comes to individual career development as well as strengthening the sector as a whole.”

Apprentices and apprenticeship employers were asked to nominate themselves or others for a HIT Heroes Award with categories including Extra Mile Apprentice of the Year and Best Community Outreach Employer of the Year. A judging panel of industry experts then selected winners for overall Apprentice of the Year and Employer of the Year.

Winner of the 2021 Apprentice of the Year went to Michael Mercer who completed a Level 3 Facilities Management Supervisor apprenticeship with Sodexo. His leadership journey started with Sodexo in 2019 where he was promoted from Head Chef to Catering Manager at Bulford Army Camp.

Michael told the judges: “It’s quite a shock to win! I’m so happy to receive this award. A big thank you to everyone who voted for me.”

YHA (England & Wales) was crowned Employer of the Year. 

Receiving the award, recruitment and training manager Dawn Holden, said: “I am absolutely thrilled to win this award and accept it on behalf of the learning and development team and even more so for all the determination and hard work of our apprentices, line managers and mentors. I’m really proud of all their achievements.”

We’d like to say a huge thank you from everyone at HIT who contributed to the awards. 

Addressing apprentices and employers across the country, Jill told the event:  “Keep on doing what you are doing, keep inspiring others and keep on helping to strengthen our whole industry. You really are superheroes.”

HIT Heroes Award Winners 2021


  • Johnny Daws – Hospitality Apprentice of the Year – Sponsored by GetMyFirstJob

  • Daniel Rox Palomeque – Chef Apprentice of the Year – Sponsored by Koppert Cress

  • Michael Mercer – Leadership Apprentice of the Year – Sponsored by Institute of Hospitality

  • Mason Carman – Extra Mile Apprentice of the Year – Sponsored by Professional Assessment Limited

Apprenticeship Employers:

  • Beyond Food Foundation – Small Employer of the Year – Sponsored by British Institute of Innkeeping

  • The Star at Cotton – Medium Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Flow Learning by Mapal

  • Compass Group UK & Ireland – Large Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Hospitality Jobs UK

  • YHA (England & Wales) – Best Community Outreach Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Professional Assessment Ltd

Overall Apprentice of the Year: 

  • Michael Mercer 

Overall Employer of the Year: 

  • YHA (England & Wales)

To watch the award ceremony on catch up, go to the HIT Facebook page and the HIT YouTube Page: HIT Training - Home | Facebook or 2021 HIT Heroes Winners Celebration Event 



It was great speaking to our account manager, Catherine, this afternoon and great to hear that HIT are being so supportive with our apprentices, I found the call very positive in a time of crisis, so thank you.

The Learner’s leaflet is great and being sent out to Apprentices and Line Managers following our communication last week providing a great follow up.

Jonathan Foot - Head of Apprenticeships, Compass Group

McMullen’s chose HIT as its sole external provider for Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications in early 2015 and since then we have found them a pleasure to work with.  Their expertise in this sector is superior and they have proven to be a professional and supportive partner who have a passion for learning and development, which matches our own organisation.

Amanda Walden – Training & Recruitment Manager, McMullen's

Encouraging our staff to improve their skills set and supporting them through apprenticeships and training programmes underlines our commitment to help them further develop their own careers. Offering the Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship also gives the Brend Group a point of difference which I’m convinced will help attract new members of staff in the future.

Andrew Mosedale - Group HR Manager, Brend Hotels

Our partnership with HIT has certainly made recruitment much easier in a very difficult labour market and gives us a point of difference in an increasingly competitive environment.  Kew Green has also benefited enormously from well trained, skilled and competent staff who contribute significantly to the ever improving and high levels of customer experience that our guests expect and deserve.

Andrew Tregenza - HR Business Partner, Kew Green Hotels

Apprenticeships allow us to give people a great opportunity to develop a career with us and learn a skill or trade that will accompany them throughout their career and life. We see progression to the Level 4 qualification as key to our strategy of providing development at all stages of an employee’s career with Harrison.

Alex Taylor - Training Manager, Harrison Catering Services

HIT Training has provided such an incredible support to us during lockdown, with regular webinar invitations, videocalls and engagement solutions. Our business focus shifted to learning and development and we managed to enrol 3 times more apprentices on training programmes than before!

Anastasia Talatzidou -L&D Manager, Gaucho


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