Your NHS stories – an interview with hospital chefs

Supporting your sector and 1 other category | 3 July 2023 | Cally Ip

5th July 2023 marks 75 years of the National Health Service. Treating over 1 million people a day in England*, the NHS touches all our lives, and today we cannot imagine life without it.

The NHS has been there for us through it all, from Britain’s first heart transplant in 1958, through the Covid 19 pandemic, to present day. All of this wonderful service wouldn’t be possible without the heroes working tirelessly to serve their nation behind the scenes – the NHS staff.

For the NHS’s 75th birthday, we want to share the stories of the some of our NHS catering customers from Gloucestershire Royal Hospital and Royal Leicester Infirmary, some of whom have been working in the NHS for 40+ years (shout out to Cindy!).


Mark Lane, Catering Operations Manager

Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, 23 years of service

NHS 75th birthday - image of Mark Lane, Catering Operations Manager


Tell us a little bit about yourself

I joined the NHS in the year 2000, I originally joined as a qualified chef and I worked in the production kitchens here in Gloucester for the first 15 years of my career. In the last 7-8 years I have moved into management.


How is it working in the NHS?

It’s my 23rd year here, it’s been quite a journey, most days it’s a pleasure to come into work, but there’s been some days there are frustrations as there is with any job. We’re open from 7 in the morning through to 6:30 in the evening, so again, it’s a full breakfast, lunch and dinner service for patients, staff, and visitors so it’s a whole group of stakeholders we have to cater for which can be difficult. But it makes a big difference to be able to give them a meal or some type of food and drink option throughout the day.


What does the NHS 75th birthday mean to you what will you be doing to celebrate?

It’s a big step, 75 years of an establishment is a long time for anything to run. We’ve got a lot of staff who have been here 20, 30, even 40 years. We’re going to have a 75th birthday menu on the 5th July.


Cindy Dulake, Catering Assistant

Royal Leicester Infirmary, 43 years of service

NHS 75th birthday - image of Cindy Dulake, Catering Assistant


What’s been your favourite thing about working for the NHS for 43 years?

I’ve worked in patient catering and in the restaurant. I love it, teamwork, being with people, different aspects of the job, you’re always busy and I love being busy!


What does 75 years of NHS mean to you?

With the NHS 75 years, I’m extremely proud, you know, it’s just there for everybody. It’s what we need, what we needed, and I’m proud to say that I’m a part of all of this.


Nick Lee, Retail Catering Facilities Manager

Royal Leicester Infirmary, 10 years of service

NHS 75th birthday - image of Nick Lee, Retail Catering Facilities Manager


What is your role on a day-to-day basis?

My role covers anything from general retail operations all the way up to catering for events that are offsite.


What does the NHS 75th birthday mean to you?

The 75th birthday is a really important event, not only to me and the people who work here, but to the trusts as a whole. Bidfood have played a really important part of the journey.


Ieva Orlovska, Retail Catering Administrator

Royal Leicester Infirmary, 10 years of service

Image of Ieva Orlovska, Retail Catering Administrator


How have you found working for the NHS?

Sometimes it can be a stressful environment because it’s a busy organisation, but this is where you make yourself stronger, more disciplined, and you develop yourself as a person.


What does the NHS mean to you?

It means, I think, a lot, to everyone, especially those who work for the NHS because it’s very diverse and an easy organisation to work for.


Mohamed Sokwala, Retail Team Leader

Royal Leicester Infirmary, 22 years of service

Image of Mohamed Sokwala, Retail Team Leader


What does the NHS mean to you?

For me, NHS means providing a service. At the end of the day, we are in a hospital and sometimes it can be a bad environment, so just making sure that people have the best experience in the restaurant is very important to me.


It’s been great to see what 75 years of the NHS means to those who embody the NHS service, and it was a pleasure speaking with the hardworking staff who serve patients, visitors and staff every day. We wouldn’t have the NHS as we know it without the catering teams to keep staff fuelled and patients healthy.

A special thanks to the staff at Royal Leicester Infirmary and Gloucestershire Royal Hospital for their insight into their roles within the NHS.

And a massive thank you to all NHS staff who work every day to provide such an amazing service.

Hear more from our NHS caterers here…




We are proud to play a role in the NHS service. For more information on how we can help your hospital, visit our dedicated Hospitals page where you can find more information on our product range, catering for specialist diets, and more.

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