Warburtons’ Chris Parr died suddenly on Monday, 18 September.
Aged 57, he was technical director at Warburtons, and was respected throughout the baking and milling industries.
He died after developing an infection following surgery. He had been suffering from an illness over the past few months, but was expected to return to work.
The funeral took place on Tuesday, 26 September at the Manchester Crematorium. Any letters or donations c/o J Alcock & Sons, 0161 428 2097.
Brett Warburton, executive director, Warburtons:
Chris’ commitment to baking and his loyalty to Warburtons over his 27 years of service with us was remarkable and our family has always been and always will be deeply appreciative of his dedication and support.
Chris was a unique character who will be deeply missed by friends, colleagues and the baking industry at home and abroad. We have been moved by the tributes that have been paid to him in this last week from all over the world. Our thoughts are with his family - Stuart, Gemma and Lynn.
David Roberts, former chairman of the Federation of Bakers:
It was with a sense of shock and deep sympathy that I heard of the death of Chris Parr. We got to know each other when he and I were on the Bread Advisory Panel at FMBRA, Chorleywood. This committee had the distinction of having the co-inventors of the Chorleywood Bread Process - Norman Chamberlain and Bill Collins as members.
Chris brought his well developed understanding of cereal chemistry and the physics of bread-making technology to the deliberations of this committee. He was able to sense the point at which to discard the more esoteric and fanciful research projects, with a more realistic focus on issues that really mattered. It was obvious to me that Chris was going to become one of the most outstanding bread bakers of his generation. He had the unique ability to bring the immense complexity of wheat variety, flour milling and baking technology into a coherent and manageable combination. His extraordinary ability enabled bread to be produced throughout the country and he played a significant part in helping Warburtons to become the pre-eminent company it is today. Personally, he was always very approachable and conveyed both his enthusiasm and immense knowledge. He knew when to be dogmatic but it was tempered with a healthy scepticism, the hallmark of an absolute professional.
David Marsh, Benier (UK):
I was shocked at the news of Chris’ passing this week. I could never claim to be a close friend or business associate of Chris’s. But although our joint dealings were modest, he was someone for whom I had a profound respect for in terms of the breadth and depth of his knowledge regarding the science and processes of our industry.
He was in a position to "push boundaries" and, together with his team at Warburtons, he pushed them and moved them. Plus he was a thoroughly nice chap. A "massive" hole will be left where once he sat.
John Foster, managing director, Fosters Bakery, Barnsley:
There are those who know bakery science and there are others who see it more as an art. Chris Parr was a master of baking technology, baking art and knew exactly where and how the two combined. He was probably the wisest baker I have known.
My wife - then girlfriend - Elaine worked for Chris in the early 1980s at Warburton’s Bolton bakery and he was a great influence in encouraging us in our early baking careers, something he continued to do over the years, when we bumped into him at baking exhibitions and events.
Behind huge brands there are huge people making it happen and you have to admire the great success of Warburtons, which is due in no small part to the bread being technically outstanding. Much of this has been due to or greatly influenced by the lovely man and the great baker Chris Parr.
Trevor Oakley, friend and Warburtons’ colleague:
I had the pleasure of working regularly with Chris for 30 years and my lasting memories of him will be his extensive knowledge of breadmaking - both practical and theoretical - and his unwavering passion for superior quality in everything we did.
But for me, far more than his technical skills was his willingness to get stuck in and help with any challenges we faced - sometimes with things well outside his responsibility. But he did it cheerfully because he cared. He will be sorely missed.
David Tomlinson, friend and former Warburtons colleague:
Chris had the most incredible enthusiasm for baking the highest-quality products and was particularly passionate about spreading the gospel of the quality of plant bread for his beloved Warburtons. In later years, Chris worked with cereal chemists, farmers, millers and bakers all over the world to produce the most suitable flour for the finest plant bread. This will be his legacy to the baking business; his enthusiasm knew no bounds and his passion for baking will be remembered, particularly by colleagues and indeed the whole of our industry.
Stan Cauvain and Linda Young, BakeTran:
Bread-making was one of the passions in the life of Chris Parr and he was always willing to share that passion with others around the world. Debating the intricacies of bread technology was always a stimulating experience with Chris as he constantly strove to understand what controlled bread quality and how to exploit his knowledge of ingredients and processing to improve it. His constant questioning of what constituted ’good’ bread quality would often stimulate new ideas in others, which in turn would lead to new developments, benefiting not only Warburtons’ business, but often the baking industry as a whole.
One was never offended by the outcome of a debate with Chris, because no matter how heated it became, one always recognised the passion he felt for his subject. That passion and stimulation will be missed by both of us and many others in the baking industry.
Bob Beard, friend and colleague:
A more loyal person to the baking industry and to Warburtons you will not find.
I knew Chris for over 15 years, initially as a supplier and latterly as a work colleague. It was Chris’ passion for quality that was utterly infectious; his attention to detail, patience if you did not understand and willingness to challenge the status quo will always be remembered.
He knew more about wheat, milling, ingredients and the technical baking process than anyone I have met. What’s more, he always wanted to share his knowledge, thoughts and feelings, especially if it improved bread quality.
He was an expert and a friend and is sadly missed. n
=== Chris Parr ===
Died Monday 18 September, aged 57.
In his youth, Chris played football to a high standard and always remained involved in the game as an enthusiastic and vocal Manchester United supporter!
He attended Manchester Bakery School (Hollings College - now part of Manchester Metropolitan University) from 1966-69.
Worked at Sharrocks Bakery in Bredbury, Stockport as a trainee manager, then joined British Arkady (now BakeMark) as a test baker.
Chris quickly became an expert in the Chorleywood Breadmaking process and, along with colleagues, developed dough conditioners and other ingredients that were at the cutting-edge of technology. In the mid 1970s, he joined Warburtons, working directly for Derrick Warburton in advancing the technology of breadmaking processes and new product development.
Latterly, Chris held the role of technical development director for Warburtons. He enjoyed many years of service with the family business.