Charity award for caring café owner

Proud winner:  Sharon Ovington receives her award from Linkage chief executive Ges Roulstone.
Proud winner: Sharon Ovington receives her award from Linkage chief executive Ges Roulstone.

A Skegness café owner has been named Employer of the Year by Lincolnshire learning disability charity Linkage.

Sharon Ovington, from Christopher’s Café in Lumley Avenue, was nominated for her commitment to recruiting staff with learning difficulties. Sharon employs two people, Charlotte Hampson and Andrew Mason, as seasonal staff.

Her honour was announced at Linkage’s annual Bateman Awards,named after the founding chairman George Bateman.

The ceremony, at the Trinity Centre in Louth, celebrates achievement among staff, students and service users, partner organisations and volunteers.

Sharon said: “I was thrilled to be named as employer of the year and it’s great that the café is recognised for its commitment to staff. The award has pride of place in the café. The two staff we have, Charlotte and Andrew, have enriched the lives of me and my staff, and are a delight to have on the team. I was humbled at the awards event by all the achievements of students, service users, staff and other employers. Every one of them deserved to be and were winners, in my eyes.”

The Employer Award shortlist featured Colin Williams, who runs an allotment near Alford, to develop the horticulture skills of two Linkage service users, and Sainsbury’s. The supermarket employs two Linkage clients at its Spilsby store, one of whom, Jodi Shuttleworth, was presented with the Chief Executive’s Award for his 20 years in retail.

Linkage’s adult skills manager, Chris Teesdale, was presented with an award from chief executive Ges Roulstone for her dedication. This includes supporting the Linkage football team which plays in the county’s Linkage-sponsored Ability Counts League.

Ges said: “The awards show the passion that staff, students, employers, volunteers and our partners have for Linkage. Sharon’s commitment as an employer is much valued and she is a worthy winner, but I’d like to thank all of the businesses we work with for providing our clients with much-needed job opportunities and experience.”