HE’S served meals to the Queen and chaperoned TV celebrities and sports stars.
Now Anthony Hegney is enjoying a starring role of his own as general manager for caterer The Lindley Group at Huddersfield’s Galpharm Stadium – soon to become the John Smith’s Stadium.
After many years in the hospitality industry, the opportunity to join The Lindley Group and work at the town’s premier sports venue was too good to turn down, says Anthony.
“I was travelling so much from one end of the country to the other, so I welcome the stability of working at the Galpharm,” says Anthony. “I live at Castle Hill, so instead of driving 200 or 300 miles a day, I have a one-and-a-half mile journey to work.”
He says: “What attracted me to The Lindley Group was that they have a ‘small firm’ feel about them and an ethos of setting high standards.
“The Galpharm is a great feature of Huddersfield and I am hoping we can make it the premier banqueting and conference centre in the region. It is one of the best stadia in the country for its scale, we have 26 ‘break-out rooms’ and a banqueting suite that can accommodate 400 people. We have plenty of parking, great road links to the motorway and a railway station just minutes away.”
Anthony, 41, points to events such as the June concert featuring 5,000 youngsters from 110 Kirklees schools – which celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games – as examples of how the stadium is central to local life, adding: “That’s the kind of thing we want more of!”
Says Anthony: “We worked with Kirklees Stadium Development Ltd to develop the concert and we work as a partnership with them every day.
“With the concert, we got different communities down to the stadium – some of them people who would not necessarily come here for sport. Getting thousands of children together was absolutely spectacular.”
Halifax-born Anthony would also like to see more big-name acts perform at the stadium – recalling how acts such as REM, Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams and Elton John wowed the crowds.
He wouldn’t be fazed by the famous, either. His career has involved a sprinkling of stardust along the way.
“I wanted to be a chef,” he says. “Cooking is a passion of mine. But it all happened by default. I didn’t go to college or university. At the age of 17 I was working at the Imperial Crown Hotel in Halifax – glass collecting because I wasn’t old enough to work behind the bar.
“Once I could work behind the bar, I rose to become bar manager. I went on to work in other parts of the hotel. I turned my hand to everything – even cleaning 57 bedrooms when a snowstorm prevented the cleaning staff from getting in.
“I spent 12 years at the hotel before I got married and moved to Spain with the family to run my own restaurant out there.”
Anthony moved back to England after his marriage broke down and worked for the National Trust for a few years before joining French-owned contract catering group Elior.
His job was to look after catering operations at locations including York’s Castle Museum, the Media Museum in Bradford, the Science Museum in South Kensington, the Tower of London and Kensington Palace. He has also worked at sports venues including Murrayfield and Durham Cricket Club.
During his time with Elior, Anthony served meals to the Queen and Prince Charles during their visit for the opening of the Welsh Assembly. He waited on the Prince of Wales again during a royal visit to the Square Chapel performing arts centre in Halifax.
He has met chat show host Michael Parkinson, actor Ray Winstone and Carry On legend Barbara Windsor during the course of his work. He has also met big names from the world of sport, including George Best and Barry McGuigan, when they attended sportsmen’s dinners.