As the year draws to a close, British Baker deputy editor Amy North looks back at the positive work being done across the baking industry.

As the cold nights close in, and with a general election and Brexit looming, it would be easy to embrace my inner Ebenezer Scrooge. But, as December is often a time for reflection, it’s hard to stay gloomy looking at the progress, innovation and community spirit in the baking industry.

One thing I often hear is how eager everyone is to help newcomers. From sharing tips and tricks to donating equipment, and even offering hands-on experience, the industry knows how to look after its own.

Take Orange Bakery in Watlington, for example. There are few fields in which a 15-year-old could thrive in the way Kitty Tait has. Not only is she running a successful bakery in her home town with her father, but she’s also hosting sourdough classes and has become a Real Bread Campaign ambassador.

Bread & Beyond, located in Thatcham, is another bakery that would have struggled to get off the ground if it weren’t for the kindness of the community. As a social enterprise, it’s paying this back by training young people severely affected by autism.

And, let’s not forget the speed at which people banded together to help Village Bakery after it was struck by a fire in August.

This altruistic spirit seen throughout the industry is set to be highlighted by the 2020 Real Bread Week. Running from 22 February to 1 March, it will put the spotlight on businesses and initiatives that aid people who have experienced a tougher time than most. Among those to be featured are Luminary Bakery in London, which empowers women in disadvantaged social and economic situations to build a future for themselves, and Stoneham Bakehouse in Hove, where a BreadShed project helps older people tackle isolation by getting together to bake bread.

If that’s not enough to warm your cockles, then how about being part of an industry at the forefront of innovation and research?

Roberts Bakery’s Crunchy Cricket Loaf marks a significant moment in the acceptance of insect-based protein – a product that scientists believe will become increasingly important (see p17 and Healthy Breads p35).

Looking further to the future, our not-too-distant relatives could be enjoying bread made with wheat grown on Mars, thanks to research led by Puratos (p6).

Regardless of what happens in British politics in 2020 and beyond, the baking industry has a lot to look forward to.