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This award celebrates those who have dedicated their lives to the baking industry, going above and beyond the day job to drive change, share knowledge, and support others.

Four people at an awards ceremony smiling at the camera

Source: ABST

Sara Autton (second left) presenting an award at an ABST event

Winner: Sara Autton

Sara Autton has helped to shape the baking industry for future generations, taking an active role in many trade bodies and associations alongside her role at Lesaffre.

She has enjoyed a long and illustrious career, one that has spanned nearly five decades during which time she cemented herself as a beacon of expertise.

Sara started her career by undertaking a national diploma in bakery before gaining industry experience at a Sainsbury’s in-store bakery, after which she joined Rank Hovis McDougall (RHM).

The majority of her career was spent at Fermex, which later became Lesaffre UK & Ireland through acquisition. In her position as technical manager, Sara carried out a crucial role in strengthening relationships through bakery technical support and expertise.

“A great number of bakeries have known Sara for many years and truly rely on her technical know-how and bakery excellence – giving a high level of trust in Sara to their own individual company’s bakery operation,” said Roy Parton, commercial director UK & Ireland at Lesaffre.

“I have known Sara from when I was a bakery student starting my career in this industry – meeting her through the ABST and student demonstration sessions. She has always been a positive influence for me and any individual entering the world of baking, it has been a considerable pleasure working alongside one of the industry’s greats.”

Most recently, she played a major role in the publication of the UK Sourdough Code of Practice through her work with the Association of Bakery Ingredient Manufacturers.

Sara Autton at Lesaffre baking centre

Source: Lesaffre

Sara Autton (centre, holding bread) with bakers at the Lesaffre baking centre

As highlighted above, Sara has given much of her time to trade bodies and associations. Throughout the years she has spent time as chairman of the British Society of Baking, president of the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees (ABST), and also a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Bakers.

One colleague at the ABST said she was “always there to support the students of tomorrow, no matter what she had on with work” and always gave “110% in anything she did”. This includes regularly visiting colleges and universities to share her knowledge with the bakers of tomorrow, organising many ABST conferences, arranging overseas training expeditions for students to learn at Richemont Craft School, and even driving the minibus when required.

“Sara’s commitment to helping students through her career and in her own time is outstanding,” her nominator said.

Even in retirement from Lesaffre, she is still actively involved in and dedicated to this wonderful sector.