The feedback from this year’s NAMB conference at Heron’s Reach in Blackpool was great. Tired but happy – that’s how I felt at the end of the event.

While the golfers were out enjoying the sun in the Neil Houliston Cup, NAMB office manager Karen Dear and I met with the Trustees of the NAMB Benevolent Fund, discussing how we can help our beneficiaries stay in their own homes a while longer. This can be in the form of grants or help with a motorised wheelchair or modifications to their homes.

This was followed by a meeting for National Craft Bakers’ Week (NCBW). The NAMB is very excited that well-known English rugby player Phil Vickery is to be the ‘Face of Craft Bakers’ Week’, supporting our members – and for free. He only wanted a donation to his charity, the Pied Piper Appeal.

I really do hope more members put some effort into NCBW this year. Last year, so many of you saw both valuable publicity and an increase in takings at the till. Suppliers are offering special discounts, merchandise and point-of-sale material, so take advantage of this free help and maximise your profits – not just for NCBW but for all the weeks beyond.

Returning to the conference… the banquet was a very special occasion, with Keith Houliston not only winning the golf cup but also being presented with a very well-deserved Honorary Life membership medal from the NAMB for his help and support to the association over many years. Winners of the Lesaffre competition were presented with plaques by Nick Harris from BFP.

Our chairman, Mike Holling, ensured that Sunday’s business meeting went well. A very smooth AGM was followed by two excellent speakers: Alan Stuart, Scottish Bakers’ president-elect, stood in at very short notice and even brought his excellent pies for us to sample; and the very humorous David Smart from Greenhalgh’s took us through his business’ humble beginnings to his fantastic company as it exists today.

The installation of Ian Storey as the new NAMB president took place in the afternoon, with both a moving and witty address from outgoing president Neil MacSymons, as well as the incoming president.

Fun night? Well, that was another story – 65-year-old pregnant schoolgirls, headmasters who looked very relaxed with their canes, and schoolboys – I’m sure some of those legs should have come with a health warning! Then there was Steve Phillips, who came as a school nurse, complete with wig – he seemed to me just a bit too relaxed in his dress.

All in all, it was a fabulous weekend and I must thank all of our sponsors who helped to make it so. But special thanks must go to Karen, for the vast amount of work she put in months before the event, and to Pete Wilbourn for his help.

I look forward to more photos and reports in future issues.