Echoes of the past: Where is Shaun Callighan now?

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Is it really now almost 28 years since what was then called the Trust House Forte Hotel, opened its doors for the first time in the picturesque Clifton village at Brighouse?

The big day was on the May 5 1989, and the new manager Shaun Callighan was there to meet and greet the hotel’s first guests.

It was when I recently came across a few old black and white photographs that I wondered where is he now? So with the use of a few of my old policing skills, and the benefit of the internet, I tracked him down at his home on the East Coast of Yorkshire. I then had the opportunity of spending a happy hour chatting with him about his early life and career once he left Brighouse.

Shaun attended Hipperholme Infants School and then St Chad’s C of E School at Hove Edge. In those days his family home was in the Walterclough Valley. It is hard to imagine just how difficult his walk to school would have been on one of those wintery mornings in the valley bottom.

Having successfully passed his eleven Plus, he left the comfort of the small school in Hove Edge to join the new intake at Hipperholme Grammar School and thenmoving on to Huddersfield Polytechnic to study management and catering.

Joining Trust House Forte as a graduate trainee, saw him employed at the prestigious Waldorf Hotel in London.

Working in the cut and thrust of such a famous named hotel in the nation’s capital, was a far cry from the tranquillity of the Walterclough Valley and his life in Hove Edge.

From London his postings included The George in Huntingdon, the Ye Old Belle at Barnsley Moor, the Post House in Birmingham and then Deputy Manager at the Post House Hotel in Manchester.

Following his two years at Manchester he moved to the new Post House Hotel at Lancaster. In little more than a year he was back in West Yorkshire, having been appointed as the new hotel manager at the Post House Hotel Ossett. This gave him the opportunity of putting all the years of training together and set his own mark on this hotel.

He was soon to be back in his home town of Brighouse as the manager for the new Trust House Forte Hotel at Clifton, Brighouse. By 1987 the construction of the new hotel was well underway. Even though the hotel was not yet completed his preparatory work was very much working towards the completion handover day from the builders.

New staff had to be appointed and trained to Shaun’s high standards. It was not just the in-house staff he had to organise, he was going to be the public image of the new hotel. So making and meeting the local contacts was a role he grasped with both hands. Photo opportunities, meeting and knowing the local press, regional magazine editors and local radio were just some of the publicity sources he was in touch with.

Any new construction can and often does upset some of its near neighbours, and this new hotel was no different. It was vital for Shaun and both the hotel and its staff to become part of the community. Supporting as many of the local causes as he could - and this he did regularly. Something he is still remembered for even after all these years.

Shaun was at Clifton until 1996 when he took a change of direction. From Brighouse he went to the Hilton Hotel in Neville Street Leeds. Following a chance meeting in 1999 with Gary Hetherington the Chief Executive at the Leeds Rhinos rugby league team was to take Shaun’s career on a completely different path.

He was to head up the catering side of the Headingley sports grounds under a new trading name of The Headingley Experience. This was to be the only department at Headingley that impacted on all three sporting aspects of the Headingley ground: rugby union, cricket and rugby league.

When Shaun took on this new challenge there were only two reservations on the books, and one of those had been organised by Leeds Rugby. Grasping the challenge he had eleven happy years at Headingley.

In 2002 Shaun was invited on to the Board of Directors, having played an integral part in building the business. The Headingley Experience gained an outstanding reputation for quality and service. The business grew to regularly taking reservations for 350 days a year. With all three sports doing well; the Leeds Rhinos, Leeds Rugby Union and the cricketing side, the Headingley Experience was destined for an even brighter future.

Throughout his eleven years at Headingley he welcomed and fed many special and famous sporting guests and public figures from Sir John Major through to Olympic hero Dame Kelly Holmes.

In 2009 he changed his career direction once again, moving to the National Railway Museum in York. The diversity of catering was immense, everything from tea and biscuits to full scale banquets catering quite often for 600 guests at one sitting.

With the inevitable miles and miles of commuting from home to York, was it time to retire? It was a consideration, but not for long.

His last job was in 2012 with the Jockey Club where he would be catering for the oil Sheiks of Dubai and the enthusiastic race goer at Cheltenham. In April 2016 he finally retired.

Throughout his career all his management qualities and people skills have been his hallmark, and where ever he has worked he has left his indelible gold standard of quality service.

In this photograph we see Shaun turning his had to even helping the builders on the February 8 1988.