Last week I attended a meeting at the Bakers’ Villas in Epping. I was able to see first-hand the great work and care given to the elderly residents there, who have connections to the bakery trade.

The National Association of Master Bakers also runs a Benevolent Fund to assist master baker families who need support through age, disability or other difficult circumstances. As a visiting almoner, it is always a great experience to distribute Christmas hampers each year.

Caring and supporting each other during periods of hardship is something that craft bakers do all the time. During the floods last year, when some bakers’ premises were waterlogged, other bakers were quick to rally round and provide goods until production started again.

We all have stories in our own areas, such as bakers falling sick and others providing goods to help the businesses keep going until the owners are well again. On one occasion, a fellow baker of mine had his main electricity cable severed by builders and, during the three days it took to repair, he and his small staff took over my bakery during the night, bringing all their own flour and ingredients with them and using our ovens and equipment. They vanished by 4am with their newly baked goods, just before our bakers were due to start.

Craft bakers are a breed apart, competitive in the marketplace but always eager to help each other during times of difficulty. Compassion and friendship are some of the greatest values that we can have.