The chief executive of industry body UKHospitality has been made an OBE for speaking up for the sector amid the turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Kate Nicholls said she was humbled and honoured by the title but stressed that 2020 has been a year of “continued despair and heartbreak for hard-pressed hospitality businesses”.
She has been a leading voice in lobbying for state support for hospitality and leisure firms impacted by restrictions put in place by the Government.
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She has been made an OBE in recognition of her services to the sector, particularly during the Covid-19 response, officials said.
Ms Nicholls has led the trade body since it was formed in January 2018 from the merger of the British Hospitality Association and the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, where she was chief.
She is also chairwoman of the Tourism Alliance, representing all bodies across the sector.
The OBE comes after a turbulent year which saw the closure of all hospitality and leisure firms in March.
Businesses steadily reopened before rising case numbers resulted in local restrictions, a 10pm curfew and England’s second national lockdown before more severe tiered restrictions were enforced earlier this month.
“While I am personally humbled and honoured to receive this recognition, I have to pay tribute to the entire UKH team for their tireless work and campaigning throughout this year, continually highlighting to Government the specific challenges our sector faces,” she said.
“Hospitality businesses were hit first and hit hardest by the pandemic but, despite this, there have been countless inspirational examples of leadership, resilience and collaboration, of people coming together to support their local communities during this unprecedented time, helping to feed frontline NHS and key workers, the homeless and support others in need.
“It is those values that make me proud to have represented and been part of such a wonderful sector for many years.
“Our focus now is to continue to press Government for additional financial support that will enable businesses to survive through the winter and be in a position to reopen and welcome back customers.
“I very much look forward to celebrating with family and friends at the first opportunity.”