Village Bakery has launched a £3,000-a-year scholarship in a bid to help raise standards in the food industry.
Jo Flower, a 21-year-old food technology and product development student at Harper Adams University, Newport, is the first recipient of the Jones Village Bakery’s bursary. She will spend the next year on placement at the Wrexham-based family business, which is due to open its 140,000 sq ft ‘super bakery’ this summer.
The scholarship announcement comes as the business’s name change to Jones Village Bakery now appears on its packaging to ‘emphasise their credentials as craft bakers’.
Flower grew up on a smallholding and her family on her mother’s side owned an Italian restaurant in London.
“I’m very excited about coming on placement to the Jones Village Bakery,” she said. “I’ve just been on a guided tour of the new bakery and it’s 140,000 sq ft of baking heaven. This is a massive opportunity for me.”
The new ‘super bakery’ is more than three times the size of the one it’s replacing following a devastating fire in August 2019.
As well as housing the company’s headquarters, the new premises will be home to its Baking Academy and Innovation Centre – both twice the size of the original versions – to train a new generation of bakers and develop new products.
An exciting opportunity
The annual scholarship programme was the brainchild of Amy Wickham, a former Harper Adams student and now Village Bakery’s new product technologist, who was offered a job following a placement with the business in 2015.
“I’d applied for scholarships internally when I was at Harper Adams,” she said. “They were all to do with dairy, meat and poultry but there was nothing for food development outside those areas, so I felt there was a gap that needed filling. I contacted Harper Adams to suggest the idea and they were absolutely over the moon,” said Wickham.
She added that it would be an extra incentive to get the best people to work for the company.
“This is a really exciting opportunity for Jo because we are so busy. We’re such a strong brand in the area, so it’ll be great for her to see how we develop the products ourselves, maintaining and improving quality.”
Harper Adams University vice-chancellor, Dr David Llewellyn, added: “We are delighted that Jones Village Bakery is supporting our students in this way, demonstrating not only the range of career opportunities in the food industry, but also the demand for high-quality graduates to contribute to the success of this fast-growing business.”