MDS 2024 Leaver’s Lunch and Awards

MDS 2024 Leaver’s Lunch and Awards


On Friday 23rd February 2024, MDS Trainees of Group 51 said their farewells as they prepared to move on to their future positions. Over 25 Trainees and their friends, family, and Members, joined us to celebrate their achievements and the impact they have made on the industry.

The 2024 Leaver’s Lunch and Awards Ceremony was a fitting swan song for this innovative group who have brought determination, enthusiasm, and an unrivalled desire to learn and solidify their position in the industry.

They congregated in Peterborough and enjoyed a 3-course lunch and Ceremony, in which the Trainees got their hands on 14 coveted MDS Awards. On top of reflecting on their achievements and their peers’ success, they were able to finish forging connections that they will take with them throughout their careers.

During the last two years, these Trainees have completed over 75 roles, gained vital experience, and evolved a suite of skills that will serve them throughout their careers. After lunch, the Awards Ceremony began, and the hybrid event was broadcast on Zoom.

The 2024 award winners were as follows:

Rising Star

Mark McKenna, Rising Star Award Winner
Award Winner Mark McKenna, beside MDS CEO Sapphira Waterson

The first of the award categories was the Rising Star, which is given to those Trainees who make a difference in their roles. This year, although many were nominated, we were proud to honour 11 individuals who were singled out by their Secondment Managers for their hard work and achievements. The 11 winners were:

Mark McKenna, Aldi

Frances Oesterlin, Syngenta UK

Cara Pateman, AM Fresh Group

Douglas Sleigh, Finsbury Foods

Tom Porter, Syngenta Basel

Lauren Murray, AM Fresh Group

Calum Williams, Chemetall Ltd

Rosie Dinnis, Syngenta Basel

Ben Paterson, Cobrey Farms

Harvey Riches, Syngenta Basel

Minas Constantinou, Adama Group

David Bagshaw Award

Harvey Griffiths and Sapphira Waterson

Next up was the David Bagshaw Award, presented by skills coach Hayley Williams-Dixon. Designed to acknowledge outstanding performance in professional training, the award was presented to Harvey Griffiths (pictured with Sapphira Waterson above), who was nominated by The Apprenticeship College for ‘outstanding achievement’.

On receiving the award, Harvey said, “Thanks to the MDS team and Hayley from The Apprenticeship College for nominating me. It means a lot, as I know the calibre within my group.”

On speaking on how MDS helped shape the man he is today, he added, “You’ve got to build resiliency and get it done”.

Peter Shepherd Award

Award Winners Being Announced
The Award Winners being announced

In recognition of MDS’ Member businesses, our penultimate prize was the Peter Shepherd Award, given to a company or individual that continually supports MDS and our Trainees. This is awarded to an individual with a vested interest in a Trainee’s development and learning; who has coached and mentored them, helping a Trainee to find a future in the sector.

This year Kerry Smit, Commercial Manager at A H Worth, was nominated by Trainee Bethan Oliver.

Kerry was very proud to receive the award: “What an amazing experience to receive such a prestigious award and truly unexpected at that! Thank you to MDS for the opportunity to be a part of such a rewarding graduate scheme.”

She went on to say, “The words Bethan, my Trainee, used to describe me and our time together, were incredibly touching and I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to impart years of knowledge and my experiences and know that these have had such a positive impact at the start of her career.”

Doug Henderson Award

Lance Herbst and Sapphire WatersonOur final presentation was the Doug Henderson Award, which was awarded to a Trainee who has consistently demonstrated excellence in their secondments and gone over and above what was expected of them and taking on additional responsibilities.

MDS CEO, Sapphira Waterson, presented the Doug Henderson Award – which recognises performance excellence, leadership qualities, personal achievements, team achievements, and impact within a Member company – to Lance Herbst (above).

On receiving the award, Lance was overwhelmed: “It’s a huge honour to have won the Doug Henderson award. Seeing the impressive individuals who’ve won it before, I can only hope I’ve lived up to their standards. I owe a big thanks to the MDS team and all my past secondment managers as well as group 51.”

He went on to add “Joining MDS was a step out my comfort zone, but now reflecting on it, it’s not only shaped my professional abilities but has also instilled in me a sense of resilience and adaptability. It has taught me the importance of continuous learning and the value of embracing new opportunities for growth. As I move forward, I am excited to apply these learnings and contribute effectively to any team or organisation I become a part of”.

Goodbye Group 51

Group 51

The Leaver’s Lunch and Awards Ceremony was the perfect way to celebrate the achievements of Group 51’s Trainees. It was a chance to reflect upon their incredible accolades.

This cohort moves on to pastures new, ready for the challenges and opportunities the industry will bring, knowing their time with MDS has left them fully prepared to do just that.

We will miss this group, but we cannot wait to see the profound footprint they leave on the industry in years to come.