Rebecca Allen of Bridges Restaurant in St Ives was named Employee of the Year 2005. She tells Lisa Hanlon what the award means to her. When I realised I had won the award I was just so thrilled, said Rebecca Allen, who is 22 and assistant manager of Br

IN PRINT: Staff at Piggott Black Bear which is sponsoring this year’s award.

Rebecca Allen of Bridges Restaurant in St Ives was named Employee of the Year 2005. She tells Lisa Hanlon what the award means to her.

"When I realised I had won the award I was just so thrilled," said Rebecca Allen, who is 22 and assistant manager of Bridges Restaurant, in St Ives. "I really didn't think I would win as I was up against a lot of experienced people from international companies. But there must have been something about me that the judges liked."

Rebecca has been working at the restaurant for three years but originally trained as a travel agent.

"While I was training I started working part time at Bridges Restaurant just doing three shifts a week. I loved doing it as it was a great way to meet new people. I was quickly promoted to supervisor of my shifts and I was only 19."

The owners of the restaurant, Richard Fraser and Rhiannon Upham, saw Rebecca's talents and soon offered her a full-time position as assistant manager.

"I said yes straight away," said Rebecca. "I like working with all the different people I meet here and I really believe in the products we sell - I can take great pride in the food and serving it to our customers. I love everything about my job. I would definitely want to come and eat here even if I didn't work at Bridges."

Richard and Rhiannon nominated Rebecca for the Employee of the Year award.

"I knew they had put me forward and thought it was a lovely gesture but didn't think anything would come of it. But someone came to the restaurant to have a meal and was secretly judging me. At the end they told me why they were there and that I was going to be short-listed."

Rebecca said the award has meant a lot to her: "It has given me more confidence because it is proof that I can do my job and that I do it very well. It is a great accolade to have on my CV and the award is not only good for me but great for the business too."

As well as working, Rebecca has taken NVQ qualifications including level three in hospitality management and she is just completing a customer service apprenticeship.

"Some customers come here two or three times a week," said Rebecca. "We will be holding a magic night on July 11 when a magician will visit the tables doing tricks for people to watch.

"I am very easy-going and hands-on at work. I think the staff and customers like that. Enjoying the job is really important - you need to enjoy it to be good at it."

INFORMATION: Bridges Restaurant, Bridge Street, St Ives, is open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 11.30am to 2pm and 7-10pm and Sunday noon to 3pm. It is closed on Thursdays. Telephone: 01480 495999.