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Tourism industry honours lecturer at Brolgas

By Patrick Nelson

Lecturer Nick de Silva and team leader Mike Keating at the Brolga Awards Lecturer Nick de Silva and team leader Mike Keating at the Brolga Awards

Long-serving Central Australian vocational education and training lecturer Nicholas de Silva has been recognised by the Northern Territory tourism industry for his outstanding contribution to the hospitality industry.

Mr de Silva was presented with the George Dunne Award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual, at the NT Brolga Awards in Alice Springs in late November.

Tourism and Hospitality Central Team Leader Mike Keating congratulated his colleague, saying the award was a popular choice among more than 300 guests who gave Mr de Silva a standing ovation.

“Nick has a reputation for being an employee who puts his heart and soul into his role as a trainer and, by extension, into his work with students,” Mr Keating said.

“His passion and enthusiasm is enormous and in 2015, after 26 years of continuous service, he is no less passionate than when he started in 1989.

“His commitment to providing high-quality training through real world restaurant service is outstanding and he is rarely seen without a smile on his face.”

Mr de Silva delivers certificate courses in hospitality to adult and vocational education and training in school (VETiS) students and manages the university’s fine dining Desert Lantern restaurant on Alice Springs campus.

Singaporean by birth, Mr de Silva heard about Alice Springs’ “cowboy town reputation” while visiting Darwin more than 25 years ago.

Despite having the choice of going to Canada or working in Broome, he accepted a job offer in the Red Centre.

“I said I’ll come for two months and try it out. I’ve been here ever since.

“Alice Springs is my home.”

Mr de Silva said he particularly liked working with senior secondary students through the VETiS program.

“They provide me with the most rewarding part of my job.

“Some of them are naïve and lacking in confidence when they start, but over the months they develop and transform into confident and skilful practitioners.

“Many of them find work in hotels and other sectors of industry, which is also a big reward for me.”

Mr de Silva said he was proud that the Desert Lantern restaurant had been selected as a finalist in the Excellence in Food Tourism category at this year’s Brolgas.