LHVA Awards celebrate the best of Leeds’ hospitality industry after two-year break

Wayne Topley and Claire Hutchinson

Leeds Hotel & Venues Association (LHVA) held its annual Awards event which celebrated the best of the city’s hospitality industry.

Held at Headingley Stadium, the event returned following a two-year, covid-enforced break in partnership with LEEDS 2023 Year of Culture.

Hosted by Radio and Television Presenter Stephanie Hirst, the LHVA awards recognised the dedication and commitment of the people within the city’s hotels throughout what has been a particularly tough time for the industry.

From furloughed colleagues taking on community roles, and volunteering at vaccination centres, to hotels supporting the homeless and vulnerable, it has been an unprecedented time for the city’s hotels and those who work in them.

This year’s theme was Refresh and Renewal, and celebrated the explosion of colour, noise, and brilliance of Leeds, and marked a bright and exciting opening chapter for the city ahead of 2023’s Year of Culture. As well as for the region, following the recent win of Bradford’s City of Culture bid for 2025.

LEEDS 2023 is planning a ground-breaking, 12-month-long cultural celebration of the city, with an ambitious and globally reaching program of cultural events. During this year-long celebration of all things Leeds, the hospitality industry will play a fundamental role in realising these 365 days of dreams. Looking after visitors, caring for guests, and ensuring everyone has great things to say about the city, thus creating a desire to come back.

Wayne Topley, chair of Leeds Hotel & Venues Association (LHVA), said: “Leeds’ hospitality industry really is the beating heart of the city, and we’re thrilled the LHVA Awards made its welcome return last night to celebrate the hard work and talent of its team after a long two-year wait.

“We were delighted to partner with LEEDS 2023 as it is much more than celebrating the creative side of the city.  It’s an opportunity to bring cultures together, build communities and networks, which have always been the core values of membership for LHVA. Plus, it will champion the hidden stories and unsung heroes of the city, as we do with our Awards event.”

Claire Hutchinson, head of communications and marketing for LEEDS 2023, said: “We’re thrilled to be partnering with the LHVA. From receptionists to concierges, people who work in hospitality are often the first individuals guests meet when they reach the city. They are ambassadors for Leeds and will be vital for promoting a fantastic visitor experience during our Year of Culture.

“Next year’s LEEDS 2023 will be a year-long celebration of culture, happening all over the city and will provide a perfect opportunity to connect with all communities, and come together again. This Year of Culture will be a transformational force for the city, and we want LHVA members to be at the forefront of our welcome, as the hospitality sector will play a vital part in the visitor experience and celebrations.”

The awards featured nine different categories including Front of House Customer Service, Back of House Customer Service, Unsung Hero, Rising Star, and Top Team. Special mentions went to Lamin Darboe, from The Marriott, who won the People’s Choice Awards, voted for by readers of the Yorkshire Evening Post.

Lamin’s landslide win was in recognition of his selfless hard work supporting his local village in The Gambia. His work helps to provide a safe space to educate children who would otherwise miss out on the opportunity.

Other outstanding mentions include Maureen Hezelgrave who was recognised and celebrated for her 20-plus years of service and diligent support at Radisson Blu. The Chairman thanked her as a representative of one of the many people who work in the hospitality industry who show loyalty and commitment and always deliver the best experience for the hotel’s customers.

The Leeds Hotels and Venues Association (LHVA) also recognised its chosen charity and was delighted to support Zarach at last night’s event.

Zarach, the bed charity, supports families in crisis by providing bed bundles and food parcels to families across the UK to make a positive and real difference.

Thousands of children in Leeds are going to sleep hungry and cold; without a proper bed of their own. Poverty is a real problem that has a significant effect on a child’s education. By providing something to eat and a good night’s sleep, we can give every child an equal chance to learn and succeed at school.

Full list of winners:


Chairman’s Choice

Sponsored by Nesbits

Winner: Maureen Hezelgrave, Radisson Blu


Best Newcomer

sponsored by Luminate Education Group

Winner: Rachel Goacher, Doubletree by Hilton


Mentor of the Year

Sponsored by Christie & Co

Winner: Richard Brown Doubletree by Hilton


People’s Choice

Sponsored by Yorkshire Evening Press

Winner: Lamin Darboe, The Marriott


Unsung Hero

Sponsored by Conference Leeds

Winner: Collette Concannon, Clayton Hotel


Front of House Customer Service

Sponsored by The Engine Room @ LeedsBID

Winner: Davinder Singh, The Queens



Back of House Customer Service

Sponsored by Visit Leeds

Winner: James McGrath, Dakota


Rising Star

Sponsored by LeedsBID

Winner: Khya Ogbonson, Dakota


Top Team

Sponsored by Molson Coors

Kitchen Team, Hilton Leeds City



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.