Three exceptional individuals honoured by HRH The Princess Royal

Yesterday, three people were recognised for their outstanding achievements at the City & Guilds of London Institute’s annual Prince Philip Medal ceremony.

Alberto Crisci MBE, Founder and Brand and Events Director of the Clink Charity was awarded the most prestigious prize – the Prince Philip Medal. Richard Nelson, a Development Manager at J Murphy & Sons Ltd from Sutton was recognised with the Highly Commended certificate, and Richard McCarthy, an instructor at Ballyfermot Training Centre, won the President’s Award.

They received their awards from HRH The Princess Royal, who is President of the Institute. The ceremony was held at Buckingham Palace.

The Prince Philip Medal has been awarded for more than 50 years and was set up by the Institute’s former President, His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh. It honours those who have made the most of their talents and seen significant success since completing their City & Guilds qualification.

Read more about the winner’s stories below:

Alberto was recognised for the impact he has made on individuals and society through his work in offender rehabilitation in the hospitality industry. After completing his City & Guilds qualifications in food preparation, cooking and food service, Alberto gained experience in London hotels and the Michelin-Starred Mirabelle restaurant. After eight years of running his own restaurant and wine bar, he became a chef at HMP High Down in 1994. 

Alberto continued his professional development by undertaking City & Guilds qualifications in Further Education. Through working with prisoners in the kitchen, he saw the opportunity to use training and work experience to help their rehabilitation. In 2009, the Clink Charity was formed and the first Clink Restaurant opened at HMP High Down. 

The charity has a five-step programme to recruit, train, support, employ and mentor prisoners and ex-offenders. Trainees work towards City & Guilds qualifications in food preparation and service, and work in the prisons’ high-end restaurants preparing them for a career after their release. Within its first year, the Clink Charity reduced the re-offending rate to just 10% - compared to the national average of 47%. Rapid expansion followed and three more restaurants have since opened at prisons in Cardiff, Brixton and Cheshire.

Alberto's vision didn't stop there. Prisoners can now work towards a City & Guilds qualification in horticulture at one of the three Clink Gardens. They grow fresh, local and organic ingredients for the Clink Restaurants. In 2013, Clink Events was launched in partnership with the homelessness charity Centrepoint to provide catering for external corporate events. In 2009 Alberto was awarded an MBE in recognition of his service to the catering industry and last year he was named as one of the top 20 most influential caterers in the UK.

Speaking about his success, Alberto said:

‘Working with and training offenders,  ex- offenders and the homeless through City & Guilds training programmes means I see all their hard work come to fruition. Not only have our graduates gained their hospitality qualifications and put them to good use, but they have learned valuable life skills and confidence, enabling them to become stronger and offering a better future, for them as individuals and for their families, friends and society. I feel very proud to be recognised and awarded this prestigious award.’

The President’s Award: Richard McCarthy, instructor in Renewable Energy and Sustainable Construction at City of Dublin Education and Training Board (CDETB), Ballyfermot Training Centre

Richard was recognised for his dedication to training and improving the lives of those most in need throughout his career. Before joining Ballyfermot Training Centre, Richard worked with disadvantaged inner-city young people with learning and behavioural difficulties, acting as supervisor and mentor. He also helped many of those individuals to gain meaningful employment and new work opportunities. After many years of working within the Youth Training Programmes he retrained as an I.T. Instructor and worked full time at Jervis Street Training Centre for a number of years. Richard transferred to Ballyfermot Training Centre in 2002 where he started his full-time training career as a Carpentry and Joinery Apprenticeship Instructor. 

One of Richard's biggest successes during his 14 years at Ballyfermot Training Centre has been developing Renewable Energy and Sustainable Construction courses. Richard’s idea for these courses followed one of his many voluntary trips to orphanages in some of Europe’s most disadvantaged countries. Having witnessed the difficult conditions that these children were facing, Richard took it upon himself to encourage Irish businesses to provide windows and insulation materials that could be fitted in these orphanages. Richard not only transported the materials to these orphanages, but fitted them himself.

Following his work in Romania, Richard started exploring the possibilities of building Sustainable Energy courses in Ireland. He has since played a significant role in developing the new City & Guilds pre-apprenticeship programme in partnership with SOLAS and the Construction Industry Federation in Ireland – a programme that will benefit those who have not completed formal education, or are stuck in low-paid employment. These programmes are the first to be delivered in Ireland and are due to be rolled out nationally across the Education and Training Board network.

On hearing of being awarded the President’s Award, Richard said:

‘Receiving such a prestigious award is a real honour, especially when it is for something that I passionately believe in. My aim has always been to make the public and in particular, the construction industry, aware of both the environmental and financial benefits of energy conservation. I will continue this journey and hopefully this award will give me an opportunity to pass on the message to a much wider audience.’

Highly Commended Certificate: Richard Nelson, Development Manager, J. Murphy & Sons Limited

Richard was recognised for his ongoing dedication to training and development. Over the years, he has gained extensive knowledge, skills and hands on experience through his work in a wide range of sectors within the Armed Forces, as well as construction and the water and gas industry. He also served 22 years in the British Army Royal Engineers, achieving the rank of Warrant Officer.

Additionally, Richard has organised and lectured on health and safety issues, specialising in National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) for the Gas and Water Network Operations and The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health Managing/Working Safely. 

Those who nominated him also cited his strong communication skills, and the way he successfully coaches and motivates the team. Thanks to his strong team building and leadership strengths, Richard has earned the respect of trainees, peers and superiors alike.

Speaking about his success, Richard said:

‘I’m extremely honoured and proud to receive this award. To be recognised for all the hard work and for developing the team at Murphy is extremely important to me and it’s a testament to our team’s success. It’s really refreshing to see personal development and learning given the credit it deserves, especially in the construction industry. I’ve had a great opportunity to build up the skills and knowledge at Murphy and use this to give people a structured way of developing themselves. Our partnership with City & Guilds has helped us to recognise the best in people and raise standards across Murphy.’