It wasn’t always obvious that Liam would find himself firmly on a successful career path and with relevant work experience in the bag, all by the age of 19.
In Year 7, Liam frequently ran away from secondary school when he found himself frustrated and incapable of focusing on class tasks for more than a few minutes. The challenging schooling environment left him aggressive, awkward and needing more support. Liam has Asperger’s syndrome, a disorder on the autism spectrum – combined with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Eight years later, Liam’s just a few months away from completing his formal Pastry Chef qualification, he’s developed a creative flair, an eye for detail and excellent organisation skills.
Although his great journey to success may not have found its way if it wasn’t for the support of the licenced retail sector at the very beginning.
In 2008 Liam joined LVS Hassocks, West Sussex, the specialist independent school which strives to give young people with a diagnosis on the autism spectrum the opportunity to live independently. It was here in this supported learning environment that Liam found his passion for catering.
Funding from the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) ensured that Liam could undertake his Catering NVQ. “The NVQ enabled me to join the Wiremill pub’s kitchen team. Jason Rowlands, the co-owner of the Yummy Pub Co, taught me everything I needed to know in the kitchen on a one-to-one basis.
“It was a great learning process and I enjoyed the hands-on experience, especially as it was the first time that I had cooked the majority of the different dishes on the menu.
“The energetic daily routine of the pub really prepared me for my current apprenticeship. The knowledge that I took away with me about the speed of service, quality of food in terms of freshly sourced ingredients and best practice, is something that will benefit me throughout my career.”
Jason Rowlands, co-owner of the Yummy Pub Company, said: “Liam has a real passion for catering and I know that he will go far in his career. I would have loved to keep Liam on at the pub as it is people with such a strong passion that we need in our industry.”
Now working as a catering apprentice at Sodexo, the food and facilities management company, Liam cannot wait to achieve his Pastry Chef qualification. And he is enjoying everyday – with the added bonus of earning whilst he’s learning.
“I am thoroughly enjoying my apprenticeship as there is a wide range of variety throughout the course, every three weeks the pastry recipe changes. My personal favourite so far would have to be the Raspberry and White Chocolate Cakes.
Liam firmly believes his experience should be repeated across the country, with pubs educating young people about the opportunities out there – “because you don’t know what young people have to offer before you give them a chance.”
Jim Gavin, group manager Sodexo for LVS, said: “The best chefs to come out of the UK started their careers in pub kitchens. Jamie Oliver is a prime example of someone who has achieved great success from building a foundation of knowledge in a pub kitchen.
“Liam is great addition to our team. He has joined mainstream employment and doesn’t require nor want any special treatment. He is a great success story about how the industry can work together to encourage future stars. It is brilliant that the pub sector is encouraging youth development as young people will grow to be great attributes to the entire industry.”
Want to get involved?
In September 2014, LVS Oxford will open and will be looking to offer students the same opportunities that Liam has benefited from. For more information please visit: www.lvs-oxford.org.uk
Are you an employer?
If you would like offer work experience places to students please contact Liz Gaffer Director of Marketing & Charity Services 01344 884440 at the Licensed Trade Charity.