The cult of youth sometimes gets out of hand. Many people seem to think that, once you get up to or past 70, you are ready to be put down.

Many of us serve on committees and I’ll bet one of the perennial comments is: "We need more young members." Of course we do. But if we have been trying to get them for some 10 or 20 years without success, maybe they are not ready to join our various organisations.

Up to the last 20 or 30 years, age, experience and wisdom were respected. And if your business was having problems and you were looking for advice and help, would you rather go to Albert Waterfield and some of his contemporaries or a young man with, say, 10 years’ experience?

In my view, there’s no contest. I would be on the phone to Albert or Ray Reeves or so many other mature successful bakers whom I know, rather than one of the young men I read of in trade journals who have been in business for, say, three years and are going to set the world alight. Usually, the only thing they set alight is their creditors.


We older folks are often ignored and made to feel guilty that we are out of touch and not with it. But that’s rubbish. For most of us, our minds are better than ever. True, we do not have the energy levels we had and the driving need for success is no longer there, because we have achieved it to some degree. I always say I feel 35 years old from the neck up and 85 from the neck down and I bet many of our mature folk feel the same.

Yet what we lack in energy and staying power is compensated for with years of experience. Most of us have made - and learnt from - our thousands of mistakes; that’s why we survived.


In writing this, I can almost hear our younger readers saying, "You have had your day, let us have ours." Of course the present belongs to you, but learn from your elders; you

will make more money and

have a less

stressful life than we did.

Equally, I say to older parents, let your young have their head and guide them, without forever butting in and saying, "Well I never did it that way." I always try hard not to stop our managing director Neville testing out new ideas - even if I think it won’t work - provided it will not bankrupt us.

On a personal note I am thrilled that Neville has been elected to that august body the British Confectioners’ Association. But I did wonder why I was never asked. Could it be because they considered I had no talent? Even by mentioning this, Neville could be elected and thrown out in the first few months. Jealousy is such an ugly trait. n