Tributes were paid last night to Worcestershire CCC's Director Of  Catering, Steve Gibbs, who has taken early retirement after 28 years service at New Road. 

Current CEO Tom Scott, former Club Secretary-CEO The Reverend Michael Vockins and ex Chairman Duncan Fearnley were fulsome in their praise for 62-year-old Steve at a function in his honour held in the Hick Pavilion.

Banbury born Steve first linked up with the club in 1989 as catering manager with franchise Compass Services.

But within two years Worcestershire – thanks largely to the efforts of the late Vic Whittingham – had opted for in-house catering with Steve at the helm before he became Director Of Catering a decade ago.

Tom Scott said: "Steve has given 20 odd years fantastic service to this cricket club and played a key role in the growth of the catering side from those early days when the catering was taken in-house.

"This evening is about celebrating his excellent efforts with his friends, family and the staff he has worked with down the years.

"He clearly has commanded great loyalty and respect from the people who have worked with him and we wish him a long and happy retirement."

Mike Vockins said: "By bringing catering in-house, and by having Steve to lead the team, the catering improved and we began to think we could do something for 12 months of the year.

"The club has now got a very high reputation for its catering and Steve is the man who has driven that for us.

"You are retiring, we wish you a happy retirement and we hope you and Mary and you have a wonderful time in retirement. This is just an evening to say thank you for all you've done and good luck for the future."

Duncan Fearnley said: "We 'nicked' Steve from Compass and going back to those days we had some very happy times on and off the field.

"The thing that stands out for me was if one of the staff didn't turn up Steve and (wife) Mary would take your jackets off and get stuck in.

"Everyone complimented the club on its food and everyone loved coming here from the other 17 counties.

"I'd like to congratulate you on the fact you cooked for royalty, the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Prime Mininster and a lot of awkward cricketers who were very hard to please!

"I hope you thoroughly enjoy your retirement and on behalf of Worcestershire County Cricket Club, thank you for what you've done."

Steve Gibbs was typically modest in a short speech before receiving various presents from the club and colleagues.

He said: "I've had a wonderful time at this cricket club. I was here from 1989-1995 when we had that team which won quite a few trophies and it was electric just to come to work.

"There was that buzz around the ground and hopefully we can get that buzz back again.

"Although people say I did a good job, I wouldn't have done such a good job if it wasn't for those people who worked for me who are in this room today and that's all I've got to say."