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Hotel Services Manager Retires After Almost 27 Years

THE man who feeds Wiganers from cradle to grave is hanging up his chef’s whites on 30 June as he retires from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust.  

Paul Riley, 58, joined the Trust in 1991 and has worked his way up from catering supervisor to become Hotel Services Manager.

Father-of-one Paul, who has been on more than 40 cruises, plans to spend more time travelling to his favourite destinations in the Far East and America with wife Elizabeth. His other passion is cars.

He said: “In some ways I don’t feel old enough to retire but the world’s my oyster now. I have only happy memories working for the Trust. It’s here where I feel I have done my best work. You don’t come into catering to make a fortune; you want to please people. We are here for the patients of the borough and they are the most important thing for us.

“I have gone from the bottom of the team to running it. My team will be in good hands and they will go from strength-to-strength. I wish them well.”  

The catering team based at Leigh Infirmary produces 6,000 meals a day for WWL patients and staff, as well as other hospitals, nursing homes and schools throughout the North West, including 3,000 sandwiches with 27 different fillings and 150 litres of soup. No added salt is used, just a low salt bouillon and instead of butter they use Flora spread.

Paul said: “There’s been a massive change in hospital catering over the last 10 years. We have to make things as healthy as they can possibly be without compromising on flavour. Also, as my generation comes into their 60s and are more inclined to eat multi-cultural food, we are seeing menus begin to change, whereas until a couple of years ago we were still serving mainly traditional British food. We are still here to feed the patients of Wigan borough but we have got a massive external business now of nearly £4m including supplying eight other hospitals, as well as schools and nursing homes. This means I feed Wigan folk from cradle to grave.”

Before joining the Trust, from the age of 17, Paul was a chef in the Army and undertook three tours of Northern Ireland. During three years as a member of the Household Division, stationed at Buckingham Palace, Chelsea Barracks and Aldershot Garrison, he cooked for a host of dignitaries including most of the Royal Family and former US President Ronald Reagan, who tucked into a venison burger. He was also sent to 10 Downing Street to cook for the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Paul added: “One day she asked for crumpets for breakfast but I had never baked them from scratch. I even called Warburtons at 3am in the morning trying to find a recipe; they must have thought I was mad. I clearly didn’t rise to the occasion as she wasn’t very keen on the crumpets I finally made, so when eventually I asked a colleague, who was laid up with a broken leg, what recipe he used, he just turned to me and said, ‘I don’t know, just send a car to Harrods every morning to pick some up like I do.’ She had never even suspected a thing.”

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