Leanne Barry pictured with HCAL hospitality officer Vikki Knight-Waller and catering manager James Carew following her award win.

Here is why shy Leanne is Hull city centre’s ‘outstanding employee’

An “introverted” cafe worker has been named the city centre’s Outstanding Employee at a glittering awards ceremony at Hull Minster.

Leanne Barry, who works at the Venue Cafe at Hull Central Library, said she was in tears after the awards before adding: “Good tears though.”

The Hull Bid Awards recognise fantastic businesses and people based in Hull city centre.

Leanne was named Outstanding Employee after being praised by judges for going above and beyond in her role at the Venue Cafe at Hull Central Library.

Leanne said: “I was shocked – it was a case of ‘no way’. I just wasn’t expecting it if I’m honest. I don’t have a lot of self-confidence. Even though I come across as bubbly , I’m quite shy outside of work.

“When I put my hat on and come to work, I’m a completely different person to how I am at home. I’m quite introverted.”

But for her customers at Hull Central Library, the award will come as no surprise. Leanne goes above and beyond, delivering books bought in the library’s book sales on her way home and even baking cakes for some of her regular customers.

One of the many messages she received after winning the award read: “You make an ordinary person feel special.”

Leanne Barry, who won Outstanding Employee at the Hull Bid Awards, in her familiar surroundings of the Venue Cafe at Hull Central Library.

The Outstanding Employee award is voted for by customers, making the win even more special for Leanne.

She said: “I’m so chuffed, especially with it being voted for by the customers. It took a few days to sink in. All the following morning I was in tears – good tears though.”

Leanne has worked for Hull Culture and Leisure since 2013 and has been based at Hull Central Library since 2015. It was her mother, who also happened to be her first boss, who taught her the importance of looking after your customers.

She said: “My mum was my first boss when I was 16. I worked for my mum at a petrol station and she would always say ‘without the customers, you don’t have a wage’. Manners cost nothing, your pleases and thank yous, but if you can go that little bit extra, it makes such a difference. Anything is possible.

“You can only get the most out of your job if you enjoy it. Your job is what you make of it and if you enjoy it, that’s half of it, because then it doesn’t feel like a chore and you come into work because you enjoy coming into work.”

One of Leanne’s favourite parts of her job is meeting the children who use the library and watching them grow up.

She said: “I can’t have children myself so I like to make a fuss out of other people’s children, especially if they are upset.

“Seeing the kids come in and seeing them grow up, seeing them go to school and then coming back in during half-term or during the summer holidays, it’s great.

“I’ve made so many friends through this job, just by speaking to customers and making them feel welcome.”

It’s not the first time staff at Hull Central Library have been recognised for their outstanding customer service. Last year, Leanne was nominated as part of the Venue Cafe team in the same category – but this year she managed to go one step further and take the award home.

Councillor Marjorie Brabazon, chair of Hull Culture and Leisure, said: “Leanne is an inspiration. She truly goes above and beyond in her work, always putting the customers first and always thinking of new ways to make them feel welcome. Everyone at Hull Culture and Leisure is incredibly proud of her.”