‘To see young people’s faces when they make the best loaf or cake really gave me a buzz’

Dawn Gemmell, former assistant dean at the College of Food (Bakery) at University College Birmingham, on her love of bakery, and on winning Outstanding Contribution to the Baking Industry at last month’s Baking Industry Awards

You only need look at the list of categories in the Baking Industry Awards to get some idea of how our industry ticks, and how wide and varied it is.

Ranging from craft bakeries to plant operations and supermarket retail, and from traditional breads to the latest free-from product innovation, bakery is a vital part of Britain’s food and drink offer.

“Give us this day, our daily bread” –  that’s the baking industry.

It is an industry I love, and from my earliest days of leaving school to work in both craft and plant bakery, I’ve never had any trouble getting up to go to work.

Having the opportunity to later work as a bakery technician, lecturer and assistant dean at the College of Food at University College Birmingham (UCB), the largest bakery department in the country, has been an absolute privilege.

To watch young people grow in strength and confidence, to see their faces when they make the best loaf, cake or chocolate piece, really gave me a buzz and sense of achievement.

I couldn’t believe it when I was told I had won the Outstanding Contribution to the Baking Industry award.

I want to thank British Baker for making the Baking Industry Awards possible, and Ian Dobbie and Délifrance for sponsoring the category.

For all those lovely people from the industry who voted for me, including the bakery team at UCB, I thank you. I feel honoured, proud and touched by the comments and respect from like-minded people.

It was wonderful to know that two of the UCB students – Jess Dalton, who received The Rising Star Award, and Megan Roberts, a finalist – were also part of the 2017 awards. I don’t believe that has ever been achieved before.

And to all young bakers just starting out, if you are an apprentice, student or trainee baker making your way in the industry, remember, always, to do your best.

Enjoy what you are producing, making, developing or testing, as you move on your career path.

Everyone who works in our industry is passionate and enthusiastic, but most of all happy with the work they are doing.

The industry is vast, so choose wisely, listen and learn; no one person knows everything. We all learn on a daily basis, so take the opportunities offered and be proud to be part of our brilliant industry.

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