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SEND Employee Celebrates Five Years with UK’s Largest Hotel Chain

A proud Premier Inn employee is celebrating five years working in housekeeping after training in hospitality at a college that supports students with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) into work and greater independence.

James Lewis, who has Down’s Syndrome, works in housekeeping for two days a week at Premier Inn Wrexham North.

“I like everything about my job and do it all on my own,” said James, who can independently make up a room to industry standard and knows the routine and exacting standards of Premier Inn off by heart.

James, aged 28, started learning housekeeping skills as part of his training while at Derwen College in Shropshire which has a small training hotel that’s modelled on a three-bedroom Premier Inn and was created with support from Premier Inn and Novus Property Solutions.

Named Hotel 751, it was the first Premier Inn training centre of its kind in the country and opened to guests in 2019. Hotel 751 comprises a reception area, three en-suite bedrooms and a linen room all set to Premier Inn standard. This creates a real-life work setting for learners.

“James works two days a week, completing rooms to Premier Inn standard” said Karen Aguilera, Operations Manager at Wrexham North Premier Inn.

“He services the room independently. We check the room after James has finished and give feedback if necessary. He takes real pride in his rooms.

“James is a good employee, he never calls in sick. He likes coming to work. He just gets on with his work and knows what he’s doing. He comes to our social events, including bowling and the Christmas do. He was quite shy at the first one, but now we can’t get him off the dancefloor!”

24 former Derwen College students have gone on to work at Premier Inn after finishing at college.

“As an inclusive employer, our longstanding college partnerships – and of course the graduates who have gone on to work for Premier Inn – are incredibly important to us,” said Simon Ewins, Managing Director for Premier Inn and Restaurants and Whitbread Executive Sponsor for Disability Inclusion.

“Congratulations to James for celebrating five years with us, we are incredibly proud to have him as part of our Premier Inn team and we’re delighted to be part of his journey.”



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