Jennie Deavin, a Bournemouth hotelier, celebrated 45 years in hospitality by partying with some of her many ‘protégés.’
In the last five decades Jennie, 67, has owned five Bournemouth hotels and employed hundreds of staff.
The Marsham Court, now run by her daughter Rosie Wallace, is one of the town’s last family run hotels and was this year named Large Hotel of the Year in the Bournemouth Tourism Awards.
Yet Jennie says her biggest accomplishment has been watching many of the youngsters she employed as waitresses, doormen and bar staff go on to their own successful careers in hospitality.
She celebrated her milestone with a party at the Marsham Court in Russell-Cotes Road.
But the celebrations were tinged by sadness, as the mum-of-three has terminal cancer.
She said: “When my daughter Rosie asked me how I wanted to celebrate 45 years in the business I said, ‘A party! with those I have worked with.'”
Invitations were sent out and Jennie added, “We were amazed by how many people replied. Dozens – including one lady, Trixi Lynch who worked for us at the Bonnington, and flew in specially for the party from Dublin.
“It was very a emotional evening for me. But absolutely magical.”
Michael Begley was the Marsham Court’s first sales manager and has gone on to become MD of venuedirectory.com
He also owns a 10-bedroom boutique hotel and restaurant in the Cotswolds.
He said: “Jennie is a tour de force and I owe a great deal of my success to her.
“She taught me to be firm but fair. To try not to say: “no”, but to say: “maybe” and to encourage the young as they are the leaders of tomorrow.
“She was also famous for telling me to, ‘Tuck your shirt in Begley!'”
Rosie Burns, now 25, was given an apprenticeship at the Marsham Court in 2007 at the age of 16.
She now works for a national events firm.
She said: “I worked in the hotel restaurant from 2007- 2008 and reception from 2008-2010 and Jennie and her family supported me through my college studies.
“After I left the hotel Jennie sent me a handwritten letter thanking me for everything and telling me to “spread my wings” and be the best I could be. It meant a lot and I still have the letter now.”