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Memorial service for Jeff Whitaker: March 22

Whitco announces, with deep sadness, that our CEO Jeff Whitaker died on Saturday January 27 after a short illness.

Jeff was a man for whom the word hospitality and its industry might have been invented. However, his first experience with catering was just a means to an end. He became a student at Hull Catering College, and later admitted: “I only trained in catering so that I could join the merchant navy and see the world.”

His warmth and personality suited the catering industry perfectly. This, combined with an enormous appetite for hard work and a commitment to taking the long-term view (“Stick at it” was a favourite mantra), laid the foundation for the growth of the company that he founded with his wife Vita in 1995. His leadership and approach to management inspired trust among colleagues, employees, suppliers and customers. At the same time, his innovations fuelled the company’s growth and changed industry practices for the better.

He knew how to extend hospitality to others and, not surprisingly, he enjoyed the company of friends, good food and knew his way around a fine wine list. His loyalty to friends and colleagues alike was boundless. This extended to acts of generosity that often went well beyond the call of duty.

He is remembered as both a gentle man and a gentleman, possessed of a quiet dignity and a winning smile that seemed to enter the room just before he did.

He leaves a legacy of a loving family and a business that he built over more than 22 years.

Memorial service details

Whitco MD Tony Butler said: "We have been touched by the depth and compassion of the many messages we have received since Jeff's death. Words such as ‘gentleman,' ‘legend' and 'industry giant' have been typical of the obvious warm regard in which he was held by so many people in our industry."

We will be holding a memorial service for Jeff on March 22, at Oundle School Chapel in Northamptonshire, followed by refreshments at the school’s Great Hall, nearby. The service will begin at 2pm and attendees are asked to be seated by 1.30. There will be signposted parking in Milton Road and at Two Acre within the school grounds.

Jeff's Way

We’re looking forward to sharing stories, celebrating Jeff’s life and career and meeting up with many of our friends and colleagues. If you would like to attend, please contact Carmela Webb (carmela@whitcoltd.com) at Whitco, by March 1, to notify her of the numbers attending. Mourners are kindly requested not to send flowers. However, we have set up Jeff's Way which is a fund to help three good causes to help the growth and development of young people.

Jeff's memorial will be held at Oundle School Chapel.
Jeff's memorial will be held at Oundle School Chapel.
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