A foundation has been set up in memory of the late Jeff Whitaker, with funds raised through its website to be allocated to the causes and institutions closest to his heart.
Whitaker tragically passed away at the end of January and tributes poured in from friends and colleagues for a man that dedicated his entire life in the catering and hospitality industry.
The foundation that has been created – called Jeff’s Way – is designed to celebrate his passion for life and honour three causes that meant the most to him: education, opportunity and security.
It is hoped that the foundation will find new causes to donate to each year that match those principles, with the initial funds that are raised to be divided equally between the Sea Cadets, the development of young catering talent and the RNLI.
The Jeff’s Way website states: “Jeff was never happier than when he was cooking, on a boat or by the sea. He joined The Sea Cadets, which instilled discipline and high standards. The catering faculty at Hull College gave him the skills he needed to join the catering teams of the merchant navy and Royal National Lifeboat Institution, where Jeff saw and experienced first-hand the work they do to save lives at sea.”
Describing him as a man who “rose from humble beginnings and made a huge success of a life”, it continues: “It’s true to say that Jeff lived every day to the full. Along the way he made friends, won respect wherever he went, and achieved just about every goal he ever set himself. He was a man with no regrets.
“Fuelled by energy, self-belief and an unbreakable determination, he built a business and a reputation as a gentleman. And while he enjoyed the fruits of his work, he never lost sight of his origins or missed the opportunity to help others.”
Whitaker became best known for developing his catering and bakery equipment business, Whitco, into one of the most respected kitchen and project houses in the market. He was a committed member of trade association CEDA and an advocate of promoting talent and education.
His wife, Vita, told Catering Insight that she hopes the foundation will provide a lasting of her husband and make a genuine difference to the causes that need it.
“We have really set this up as Jeff’s foundation to keep his memory going and I would like to think it will get the support of industry people that knew Jeff, who will help to shape it into something much more significant and long-term in the future.”
A memorial service for Whitaker is due to be held on 22 March at Oundle School Chapel in Milton Road, Oundle, Northamptonshire, followed by refreshments at the school’s Great Hall. The service will begin at 2pm and attendees are asked to be seated by 1.30.