Jeremy Bennett, the driving force behind the formation of the Academy of Food and Wines Service, has been awarded the OBE in the New Year’s Honours List, for services to the industry.

Appointed the first Chairman and Chief Executive when the Academy was founded in 1988, Jeremy remained on the Board until July last year, retiring as Vice President.  Over more than a decade, he worked tirelessly to promote the cause of front-of-house skills, establishing an international voice for Britain’s sommeliers, and – using his experience as former Chairman of the Wine and Spirit Association’s Education Committee – was closely involved with the development of bench-mark training packs.

As Chairman in those early days, he was also instrumental in obtaining backing for the Academy from the industry’s trade and professional bodies, and key Government departments, as well as vital sponsorship support from his close friend Lord Forte, and Forte Hotels.

Jeremy Bennett has worked in the wine trade for fifty years, rising to Managing Director of Grants of St James’s, and, following the take-over, Corporate Affairs Director for the newly-formed Grants wine merchants – the largest in the country.  He has also keenly supported the Guild of Sommeliers, and been an officer in the Wine Guild of the United Kingdom since its inception.

“This is a very well-deserved award, and we are all delighted that Jeremy’s ceaseless work for the industry has been recognised”, comments Richard Edwards, current Chairman of the Academy of Food and Wine Service. “ Much of what the Academy has achieved over the last thirteen years has been due to Jeremy’s hard work, natural charm, and an extraordinary ability to get the right people to listen and better still, support our cause.  We shall always be indebted to him”