Running through the annual general meeting of the 76th students’ conference was the theme of change. The National Federation of Bakery Students Society’s and Institute of British Bakers (NFBSS/IBB) Alliance said that change was vital to meet the needs of today’s trainee bakers.

Competition secretary Jane Hatton of Brooklands College spoke passionately at the event, which was held at the Prince of Wales Hotel, Southport, at the end of April, about involving all bakery students in the various learning schemes.

Incoming president Paul Morrow proposed an amended constitution for the Alliance, explaining it could act as a bridge between the baking industry and baking education. To fulfil this role successfully, the Alliance needs to change its management structure, he said, and to undertake a strategic review of how to effectively achieve the objectives of

the Alliance.

The most important of these objectives was “to actively support individuals undertaking bakery education or training and to co-operate with other organisations engaged in bakery education and training”, said Mr Morrow.

The revised constitution was adopted unanimously and the executive committee, led by Mr Morrow, who was sworn in as president at the AGM, will now develop a strategy of closer involvement with all students, employers and training providers. In this context, he reported that his first role as president would be to represent the Alliance at the official launch of the recently announced Sainsbury’s Bakery Apprenticeship Scheme.

Simon Solway, sales and marketing director of Unifine Food & Bake Ingredients, was voted president elect and he, together with outgoing president David Tomlinson, general secretary Matthew May, treasurer Laurie Finch and conference chairman William O’Brien, will comprise the executive committee of the Alliance.

David Tomlinson, in his retirement speech as president, re-emphasised the need to broaden the Alliance’s activities and in particular to forge links with training providers, such as the Learning Skills Councils, the National Association of Master Bakers

and the food sector skills council Improve.

A central part of the Alliance’s activities will remain the annual competition and conference, which offers students the chance to hone their skills through competition and to build a network of industry contacts.

The three-day event attracted over 130 students and dignitaries. It included an AGM, banquets, seminars, charity fund raising and competitions.

This year it was agreed to separate the categories into Bakery and Confectionery, which offered students more opportunities to enter. The 23 competitions were well supported by 430 entrants.

Jane Hatton, who managed all the competitions, commented: “The entries were outstanding this year and judging was hard. The two products that won in each category were full of flavour and were products that could be put into commercial production.” Colleges such as Blackpool, Brooklands and Sussex all had success in the competitions.

The three-day conference started with the Friday night welcome disco, followed by an early start with the judges meeting to be briefed for the long day ahead. The RHM Hovis breads competition required 250 entrants to be judged, while the California Raisins Innovation Competition fielded 60 entrants. In addition, there were confectionery categories such as the Slattery Trophy, the British Bakels Cup, Renshaw’s Decorative Class and the Founders Cup.

The banquet evening started with the top table being ‘piped in’ by Scottish pipers. Following speeches, the evening ended with dancing. The final day finished with a fancy dress evening with a musical theme.

The 2007 conference will take place in Blackpool on May 4-7. Support for the students is warmly welcomed by the Alliance.

Student Merit Award

Sponsor California Raisins awarded the first Student Merit Award at the Alliance conference.

The new award was set up to reward individuals who have had an outstanding involvement in the baking industry. They need to show enthusiasm, endeavour, tenacity, originality and, above all, commitment.

California Raisins asked Anthony Greenwood (who will become Master of the Worshipful Company of Bakers in September) to nominate a candidate.

Winner Tara Gearing will now join a study tour that California Raisins is organising for later this year, where she will visit a major California Raisins plant to see how raisins are processed. She will also have the opportunity to visit a US bakery college.

During her five years in the baking industry Tara has already achieved several accolades, including Best Baker/Confectioner Award of the Year for Northampton College in 2004 and first place in the Innovation Trophy Category for the NFBSS/IBB Alliance 75th Annual Bakery Competition in 2005.

Tara plays a vital role in her college, where she is the student representative for the NVQ Level bakery class and also the student ambassador for the whole college. She aims one day to set up her own business