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Winner: Dawn Gemmell

This year’s winner is truly outstanding and inspirational.

Dawn Gemmell, assistant dean at the College of Food (Bakery) at University College Birmingham, is retiring this year after 38 years.

Well qualified, she holds an MSc in Hospitality and Tourism Management, BA (Hons) Culinary Arts Managements (BCFTCS) and Certification in Education, but these are not what make her stand out. As those who nominated her for this award point out, it is her inspiration, her caring attitude, her desire to tap the very best in every individual, lecturer or student, which mark her out as special.

Colin Lomax of Rank Hovis is one of many to pay her tribute. “Not only has she a very warm personality and a real passion for her industry, she has a genuine desire to help people,” he says. “Visitors to UCB are made welcome at any time and are shown around probably the best facilities in the country, which would not have been achieved without Dawn.

“However, the real measure of her success is in the many hundreds of students who have gone through college and benefited not only from her taught skills but also the development of their own personalities for the future.”

Before joining UCB, Gemmell worked in baking for several businesses and gained commercial experience at all levels.

Richard Wood of UCB says: “Dawn’s speciality is cake decorating; she can boast (though she never boasts) at having made and presented celebration cakes to three generations of the Royal family and often judges national competitions.

“When people talk about the smooth running and excellence of bakery teaching at UCB they talk of Dawn’s ‘enthusiasm and tireless, unstinting effort’.”

It has taken her around the world, demonstrating skills to prospective UCB students.

As a specialist lecturer of bakery, confectionery, sugar art, design and decoration, Gemmell was instrumental in developing a Bakery and Patisserie Technology Honours degree, which currently has more than 100 students. This year’s Rising Star winner, Jessica Dalton, praises both her mentoring and lecturing. Another Rising Star finalist this year, Megan Roberts is also from UCB (see p33).

Gemmell is a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Bakers, tutor representative on the Alliance for Bakery Students & Trainees, advisor on the Trailblazer bakery apprentice scheme, and has worked closely with qualification bodies such as FDQ and the National Skills Academy to improve standards. In winning this award, she follows in the footsteps of the legendary Jean Grieves.

Inspiring bakers of the future is one of the most vital roles anyone can play. Dawn Gemmell has been a mentor, counsellor and tutor to her students… and has excelled in her contribution to the industry. She is a very worthy winner of this prestigious award.