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Hotel apprentice Russell Johnson of Lime Wood in Lyndhurst crowned best level 3 apprentice at this year’s Purple Umbrella Awards

A NEW Forest hotel’s apprentice has really hit a purple patch by winning a nationwide gong.

Russell Johnson of Lime Wood in Lyndhurst was crowned Best Level 3 Apprentice at this year’s Purple Umbrella Awards.

Russell Johnson of Lime Wood won Best Level 3 Apprentice
Russell Johnson of Lime Wood won Best Level 3 Apprentice

Hosted by TV chef, restaurateur and cookbook author Shelina Permalloo, the ceremony brought together top talents from the hotel, restaurant, and foodservice sectors to honour their achievements over the past 12 months.

Russell said he was “very honoured” to have received the award, adding: “I am so proud to be part of the Lime Wood team and winning feels like an acknowledgment of all the hard work that goes on every day. The whole company has been so supportive and really encouraged me to apply for this.”

He said he chose the apprenticeship to “gain a wider understanding of the industry”.

“It has given me the tools to approach most challenges with confidence, providing me with a useful framework for managing people within the hospitality sector.

“It really gave me a structure to work with and if you’re interested in hospitality, I would really encourage people to consider an apprenticeship as a route into it.”

Managing Director of Lime Wood, Kenneth Spiers said he was “immensely proud of Russell”.

“We are delighted that Russell’s hard work and dedication to Lime Wood’s culture and standards has been recognised by this accolade and it is thoroughly deserved.”

Originally from Fordingbridge, Russell got into hospitality working in the town’s Ashburn hotel one summer.

“I returned when I was 18 or 19, and by then they had opened a fine dining restaurant called Little Mere.

“It was very formal and I loved the level of prestige, crisp white table clothes and silver service.”

Of his time in the industry, he said he enjoyed “helping people have experiences they will always remember”.

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