A chef from Addiscombe with more than 30 years’ dedicated service at the Houses of Parliament was singled out for special praise by the Speaker yesterday before Prime Minister’s Questions.
Since starting work at Westminster in the 1980s, Nick Munting has met every Prime Minister from Margaret Thatcher – and most, if not all, of them will have eaten the food he has helped to prepare.
Munting has also served as an Associate Serjeant at Arms.
During his time at Parliament, Munting established a work experience scheme which has offered dozens of Croydon schoolchildren an important insight into working in catering.
But ill-health is forcing him into early retirement, and yesterday he was joined in the gallery in the Commons by his family when the Speaker, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, made an announcement: “Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions, I want to welcome Nick Munting and his family to the gallery. Nick has worked in Parliament for over 30 years, primarily as a sous chef but also as an Associate Serjeant at Arms.
“Unfortunately, Nick has had to leave his role because of ill health and he is much missed by his colleagues. I know that all Members, particularly the hon. Member for Croydon Central (Sarah Jones), Nick’s constituency MP, will wish to join me in thanking Nick for his long service to the House and in sending good wishes to Nick and his family.”
The “hon. Member for Croydon Central” is, of course, Sarah Jones.
Today, she told Inside Croydon, “The Speaker paid a lovely tribute to Nick, who is greatly missed in Parliament.
“Nick has been a really valued member of the Parliament community and has made a difference to so many young people’s lives in Croydon, by giving them the opportunity to work in the Parliament catering team. I hope that his scheme will continue for years to come.
“Thank you, Nick, for your years of service.”
Munting began his career working his way through kitchen jobs at the Selfridge Hotel, the Ritz and the Dorchester, before securing a job as a commis chef in Parliament when he was 21. He’s stayed there ever since.
“Margaret Thatcher was the first Prime Minister I met while I worked here, and I met John Major in one of the long summer recesses we used to have many years ago, when we used to take summer jobs. I took a job at The Oval cricket ground, doing the buffet for the committee room. John Major was a guest at one of the Test matches and he came through to the buffet.”
His work at Parliament has given Munting access to a range of prestigious events. He lists attending a Buckingham Palace garden party, the state opening of Parliament and seeing Nelson Mandela address the Commons and Lords among his career highlights.
But at the very top is his meeting with the Queen at Windsor Castle in 2014, when he received an MBE for services to Parliament and to young people in Croydon.
In an interview in 2018, Munting explained how he had come to set up the work experience programme, which has enabled 15- and 16-year-olds from the Oasis Academy in Shirley to spend two weeks working in the Parliament kitchens.
“Around 10 years ago we decided we should get some outreach going from the kitchens here into our communities and we worked out a work experience programme to get kids from quite an underprivileged area into a scenario like the House of Commons.
“I went to school in Croydon and left with zero qualifications, no direction and no idea what I wanted to do. My mother and father had separated when I was seven and although they did their best, it’s not always easy for the kids, and there are lots of kids like that around those sorts of areas who have had a hard time.
“A little leg-up or a push in the right direction is something I was really keen on giving them and we get full support from the House authorities, our executive chef and managers and directors.
“They are always really shy and nervous when they come in and they leave full of confidence. It’s great to see.”
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