What a busy first month in office I have had, starting with the very successful NAMB conference at Blackpool. A lot of people have said how much they enjoyed the weekend, and many thanks to all those who offered me their best wishes and support for my year in office.

I then attended the ABST conference at Alton Towers. Under the presidency of John Renshaw, the ABST has seen the event expand with over 300 going this year, and the students were well-behaved and fully involved. Some delegates even covered the cost of attending by making and selling bakery goods off their own bats.

Driving up the M5 to Alton Towers I had time to think about my time as a student. When I left school my father took me to Southampton bakery college to see about enrolling on a day-release course. There, we met Bernard Leach, who persuaded us that a full-time course would be beneficial for me. With his encouragement, later that year, a mini-bus full of students set off for our first bakery conference. He took us around the competitions, explaining the method, quality and workmanship required for exhibitions work, and even arranged a bakery visit on the way home. To us, first-year students, it was a level of craftsmanship to aspire to.

At this year’s conference I was asked to be a judge for confectionery under the guidance of Hugh Weeks and Jean Grieves. It was a great experience for me and even furthered my education.

In these stringent times, it is so easy to just turn up to the conference and do the bare minimum. But if you are involved in bakery training, why not bring a group along next year? After all, a little extra encouragement could help to expand your students’ trade knowledge.