I think it could be said - and I would also have to agree - I should have thought it through a little bit more.
A couple of years ago I sent two young lads to the Italian National Bakery School. They, of course, had too much of a good time and I am sure that the local watering holes in Bologna saw their profits rise uncharacteristically for that time of year.
This sometimes happens when youngsters are let off their leads away from home. You naturally expect them to behave like 50-year-olds, all full of business politeness and etiquette, just like we were when we were 18 years of age (yeah, right). However getting blasted, when you are representing a business abroad, is not a good idea or a positive career move.
On arrival back at base camp, they were duly grilled, balled out, decapitated daily for weeks after and, just to make their lives truly miserable, everybody in the bakery knew about it and the lads had to relive their misdemeanours daily; the shop floor here at Greenhalgh`s doesn’t take prisoners, it really is the survival of the fittest.
The two lads were battered and bruised and, having had time to reflect on the error of their ways, were sent to all points of the compass, apologising to all their betters for letting the side down.
The whole point to my ramblings is that this same Italian Bakery School put a call out for bakeries to host visits for some of their final-year students for a month. Well, you have to show willing and maybe I still was feeling a little guilty over the two lads, so I confirmed a place for one of the Italian lads, a young man called Davide Finatello.
The deal was to find him a month’s work experience, pay him as everybody else, and generally make him welcome. Being August, Bolton University had rooms at ridiculously cheap prices, £58 per week, and bed linen was included, so we funded that. Davide was immediately well-liked by the lads in the bakery and by some of the young ladies as well - he is Italian, after all.
They took him to Blackpool and Manchester for evenings out and made him feel really welcome. He spent two weeks in the bread department and then two weeks in confectionery. His time was over all too soon and, within no time at all, I was dropping him back off at Manchester airport. Prior to his departure I offered Davide a two-year internship, which he thanked me for and said he would consider.
It was good to hear from him very shortly after his return home, confirming his acceptance, and that he intended to drive back in his Alfa Romeo - a bright racing red one, naturally. And, sure enough, Davide was soon returned to the bakery as if he had never been away.
We now have two young men from the Italian Bakery School, Davide and now Luca, as Davide convinced one of his classmates to come across. Both are highly skilled and are working well within our business.
It is quite comical when you sit and reflect on the sequence of events in the past 12 months, from two young lads having one too many in Bologna, which gave me two young skilled bakers in return; funny how life turns out, isn’t it?