Walking into a room full of baked goods - rolls, Viennoiserie, Granary and Hovis loaves, exquisitely decorated cakes and yes, the occasional bread which looks a bit lopsided or lacks spring - is quite a moving a experience. Especially when everything has been created by keen and competitive students.

High turnout

A total of 363 entries from Blackpool, Blackburn, Birming-ham, Leicester, Leeds, Sheffield, Tameside and Brooklands Colleges were the highlight of the Association of Bakery Students and Trainees (ABST) conference at the Sheraton Hotel Blackpool over the first May Bank Holiday weekend.

Student president Simon Solway of Unifine Food & Bake thanked everyone who took part in the conference and the competitions.

He also congratulated the teams who had competed in the live theatre at the Baking Industry Exhibition (BIE), where Tameside College was the eventual winner.

Conference secretary Jane Hatton was singled out for particular praise, as were the competition judges: Charles Geary, Jean Grieves, Colin Lomax and Matthew May. A special conference banquet was presided over by the Master of the Worshipful Co of Bakers, John Renshaw, student president Simon Solway, National Association of Master Bakers (NA) president Mike Hollings, president-elect John Lindsay and special guests, the mayor of Blackpool, with his wife. Toastmaster was Colin Lomax of Rank Hovis.

The whole room rose to applaud when Charles Geary of Geary’s bakery was given a special medal. Described as an "outstanding bread judge", he has given 25 years of service judging at the student conference.

Winning college

The whole conference was supported by California Raisins and allied traders. Peter Meadows and Dee Cassey of California Raisins chose the event to announce Tameside college as the winner of the Future Baker of the Year competition, held earlier at the BIE.

At the ABST conference prize-giving the Masters Trophy for the best loaf in show went to Ikue Nishi of Blackpool College for an 800g tin loaf. And the winner of the Renshaw Decorative Class was Yukiko Mori of Brooklands College who is honing her skills working at Peggy Porschen cake makers, which supplies Fortnum & Mason among others.

Yukiko also won the coveted BCA cup. Judge Jean Grieves highlighted a two-tier wedding cake made by multiple prize-winner Indika Jayasena, which she said would be good enough to win at Hotelympia!

Perhaps the unsung heroes of the conference were the organisers Karen and Bill O’Brien, who put in so much effort, as well as outgoing ABST general secretary Matthew May and the college tutors themselves, who battle with reduced funding to find, train and inspire the future stars of the industry.