Many congratulations to Hovis on its 120th birthday! And particular congratulations to all the millers and bakers who have maintained the standard over the years, enabling the loaf to hold such a prominent place in our hearts – and on the shelves of course.
Colin Lomax, RHM technical manager, merits a special mention. He is one of those individuals who has the talent to inspire others: company directors, fellow bakers, up-and-coming students, and the editor of British Baker, who has seen him at work.
He knows vast amounts about milling and baking and, like so many in this industry, cares deeply for his craft. The last time he judged a competition, I heard a student say: “He makes me really want to get the crumb better – up to his standards.” That’s because he puts in enthusiasm and draws out talent.
But his sense of humour is never far below the surface, as anyone who has worked with him, seen him demonstrate or sat in on a British Society of Baking conference he has chaired, knows.
Paul Wilkinson and Peter Baker, famous names from RHM’s recent past, have moved on, but both contributed a great deal not just to Hovis but RHM’s success, and I am proud to have met and know them both.
I must admit I went a bit wobbly when Hovis launched a crustless version of its loaf. I wanted to shout; “That’s where most of the flavour is!” But as soon as I learned it was aimed principally at kids, I felt a lot better.
Importantly, Hovis has always “combined innovation and the desire to move forwards with an emphasis on quality and tradition” (pg 26). That is also obvious talking to Miles Warnick, who heads up RHM Bread Bakeries, and Jon Tanner sales and marketing director of the milling division. It must be a very proud time for them, too, with the parent company going for flotation last year and a recent rise in the share price.
British Baker actually reached its 120th anniversary six months ago, so we have played an important part in each other’s lives.
Tradition is being re-enacted as the famous commercial of the Hovis ‘boy and his bike’ makes a return. It pictures a traditional baker’s boy, wheeling his traditional delivery bike up Gold Hill in Dorset, delivering bread from a traditional basket. But if we look in that basket today, we see modern loaves, made on the latest plant and equipment – and still the pinnacle of success. A very happy 120th to Hovis!