Q+A: Spotlight on Springboard as Pantomime prepares for curtain up


Built to help people achieve their potential in the hospitality industry, Springboard nurtures unemployed people of any age into work via skills development courses, work experience and career guidance.

One of Springboard’s alumni is chef Joe Hurrell, who is taking to the stage at the Leicester Square Theatre in Springboard’s industry panto, Dick Whittington.

We chat to him about his experience with the charity and his very aptly chosen role as the panto’s chef.

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Tell us a little bit about your career in the hospitality industry – how you started out and what you’re doing now.

I’ve been involved with Springboard for a year and a half now, as a beneficiary of its Hospitality Futures course. After the course, I worked at The Reubens at the Palace for 11 months, and now I’m working as a chef at the Hilton London Tower Bridge.

The programme gave a brilliant introduction to the different sides of hospitality, like members clubs, stadiums and hotels. As I learned about the many different sides of the industry, it really opened my eyes to what opportunities are out there.

A year and a half ago I didn’t know about these options, now I’ve built great experience and my knowledge of the hospitality industry has grown. It’s been good to learn the different options for career progression.

Can you explain what Springboard means to you? How did it help to boost your career?

Springboard gave me the connections I needed to boost my career. After coming out of jail, it can be impossible to get work experience so you have to work really hard to build a career. If it wasn’t for Springboard, I wouldn’t have the confidence and experience I do now – I’ve worked on beach events, office meetings and have even taken part in public speaking.

The skills I’ve learned have been so valuable, and acting in the panto has opened up my life and the opportunities out there for me.

Is it your first time doing the Springboard panto?

It’s my second time, last year I took part in Aladdin which was a lot of fun.

What’s your character?

I play the part of a silly French chef. I liked the character because it’s not serious at all and gives me the chance to be a bit funny. The role reflects my personality – having a laugh and a good time.

How are rehearsals going?

Rehearsals are great – fun, bubbly and really in your face! Last year, if anyone wasn’t at a rehearsal, we would share videos to keep everyone involved. As they go on things do get a little more serious though, we want to do things properly and give a great performance in January.

Do you think the panto is an important initiative for the hospitality industry?

Definitely. So many people can get involved with it. I’ve met so many people, and for someone like me who’s recently come into the industry, it’s been unbelievable to build the connections I’ve made.

Of all of Springboard’s different initiatives, from treks to carol services, the panto has been the best for me to learn new skills, meet people and have fun.

In the panto it doesn’t matter who you are, you could be a CEO or someone just starting out, you’re all working towards and same thing for a great cause.

Last year, I found that one of my previous employers was involved with the panto, and it was a great chance to connect with them again. It’s a real eye opener when you see your superiors acting silly, and gives you a chance to have a beer and a chat with them, which is so different to everyday reality.

What would you say to anyone who hasn’t bought a ticket yet?

Come for the fun and for a brilliant cause. It really does show the amazing world of hospitality. Also, you might even see your boss dressing up in drag which is not something you’ll see every day! It’s not too expensive either, and you’ll be supporting a good cause and having a good time.

Break a leg Joe! Click here to secure your tickets for the hospitality industry’s most unique and entertaining get together.

Tags : pantomimeQ+ASpringboard
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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