Sunday, 14 August 2022

Robyn Jones OBE, August 20, 1961 - September 21, 2015

ROBYN JONES, co-founder of the national catering group CH&Co, died peacefully at home, aged 54.

ROBYN JONES, co-founder of the national catering group CH&Co, died peacefully at home, aged 54.

Born in Sutton Coldfield in the West Midlands, Robyn attended Edgbaston High School for girls before moving to Derbyshire as a teenager.

She went on to gain the ordinary national diploma in hotel catering and institutional management before starting her career as a dinner lady at a private boarding school in Suffolk.

Her mother had been a huge influence in her life, not only teaching her the cookery skills that would fire her passion for food but also instilling in her a sense of independence and strength.

Robyn knew no fear. For her, anything was possible.

“Never give up”, the famous words of Sir Winston Churchill, became the mantra that would form the foundation of her life and her success.

When made redundant in 1991, she viewed it as a catalyst to start her own business, then known as Charlton House.

It was a huge leap of faith but with her husband, Tim Jones, at her side, determination and vision saw her through.

At the height of a recession, and armed only with a telephone, a telephone directory and a wallpaper pasting table as a desk, she began cold calling from her home in Park Corner, near Nettlebed.

She wouldn’t let herself have a cup of coffee until she had spoken to a potential client, or lunch until she had made an appointment.

Tim supported her from the outset and soon joined the business. Together, they developed CH&Co into one of the most innovative and respected companies within the hospitality  sector.

Today, her company counts many of the country’s leading businesses, venues and visitor attractions among its clients and a particularly proud moment for Robyn was CH&Co being awarded a royal warrant for the provision of catering to HM The Queen in January 2013.

Just two years after its foundation, the fledgling company was awarded the Booker Prize for Excellence in Catering and in 1997 Robyn was named Thames Valley Businesswoman of the Year.

There were many more accolades over the years, including a Catey Award, the hospitality industry’s equivalent to an Oscar, in 2006.

The same year Robyn was named the Credit Suisse outstanding woman in business at the National Business Awards.

In the 2011 New Year’s Honours List, she was awarded an OBE for her services to the hospitality industry.

Robyn’s standards were impeccable in every aspect and anyone who worked with her or for her raised their standards accordingly.

Without realising it, she quietly inspired people to strive harder, to be that little bit better and to stretch themselves beyond their perceived limitations.

What is all the more remarkable is that she achieved all of this success while living with a progressive and debilitating illness. Yet she never let her condition define her as a person, or change or curtail her.

She remained thoughtful, caring and understanding, encouraging those around her and always taking time to acknowledge and thank people.

Despite the demands of running the business, Robyn was a wonderful wife and mother. Her husband Tim and children, Tabitha and Blake, were the loves of her life and her pride in them shone through.

She made every birthday cake, attended every school recital and even participated in competitive races for parents at sports days, despite on-going health issues.

Family was everything to her but she also gave her time and energy generously to support the many causes that were close to her heart.

She was a trustee of the PM Trust and a patron of the Association of Catering Excellence. She was also a guardian member of Hospitality Action, a benevolent organisation for people within the hospitality industry.

Above all, Robyn was a lady. She was brave, fair and true. Her strong faith and stoicism were an inspiration to all. The world is a lesser place without her.

Robyn is survived by her husband and children, her two sisters, Tina and Kim, and her nephews and nieces.

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