Talented catering students at North Herts College were able to tickle the tastebuds of a VIP guest list when North Herts District Council chairman Tricia Cowley challenged them to host her civic reception on Friday night.

Students had to create the menu, cater for special diets, and then serve up the banquet – the biggest function yet hosted by the college’s new-look Hitchin campus in Cambridge Road.

And they were congratulated on their achievement after serving up dishes as varied as poached pear salad with Stilton, salmon fillet with horseradish cream and mock vaciar and roast artichoke paella with woodland mushrooms, artichoke and truffle oil.

An auction and raffle of prizes donated by local businesses raised much-needed funds for charity Pro-Action, which supports youth groups and sports clubs across the county and which was nominated by the council chairman – who will be stepping down from politics after May’s elections – as her charity of the year.

You can find out more about Pro-Action’s work in the community online at www.pro-actionherts.org.

Awards were also presented to outstanding young people including North Herts College student achiever Hollie Hawkins for her work with Hertfordshire Community Meals, cub and beaver leader and Leonard Cheshire fundraiser Darragh Lane, Great Ashby Youth Club stalwart Oluseye Jegede and sports volunteer Ryan Pearce for his work with Hitchin Belles U11s football team.

Councillor Cowley’s husband Laurence made a surprise presentation to mark the conclusion of his wife’s civic service, with gifts which included a framed record of highlights from her year as the district’s first citizen, a portrait including the chairman’s chain of office, and a book of memories.