Tuesday night’s Baking Industry Awards saw WC Rowe’s MD Alan Pearce walk away with the prestigious title of Baker of the Year, in the Vandermoortele-sponsored category.

The 1930s-themed event at the Park Lane Hilton, London was a great success. Darren and Lilia from the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing dazzled the guests when they took to the dance floor to perform three different sets throughout the evening.

Celebrity host for the night Ronnie Corbett kept the audience of 800 entertained with his comedy routine, explaining that, as the son of a baker, he had been brought up in a bakery family, and even dabbles with a bit of home baking himself.

Pearce said winning Baker of the Year was "amazing", as there were least 30-40 people in the room that night that he aspired to emulate, and said he wanted to dedicate his award to his late business partner Bill Rowe. Pearce has helped steer Cornish craft bakery WC Rowe to the successful award-winning business it is today, starting as an apprentice, before becoming a director and eventual MD. "It’s a fantastic trade and it gives us a reason to get up in the morning," said Pearce. "What everyone wants is a secure future, and if the staff believe in me, they can believe their future is in safe hands. I am just the spokesperson for some fantastic people, as without the staff we are nothing."

Among the other winners were Rich Products, which scooped the prize for Bakery Supplier of the Year, sponsored by Sainsbury’s. "It’s a great achievement for the whole business and for the factory floor staff," said marketing manager, Gail Lindsay. "And I got to kiss Ronnie Corbett!"

The Innovation Award, sponsored by Asda, was awarded to United Central Bakeries for its Genius Gluten-Free Loaf. Com-mercial director, Paddy Cronin said: "I’m elated. It’s been a real team effort to get us to where we are today and, in particular, to win a bakery award for a product with no wheat in it."

Burns the Bread was awarded The Customer Focus Award, sponsored by BakeMark. Partner Terri Petherbridge, explained: "It was a fabulous surprise as we knew the competition was stiff. It means everything to us and it’s a reflection of the success of the whole business."

The Bread Factory walked away with the gong for Craft Business of the Year, sponsored by Rank Hovis. Co-managing director Tom Molnar said: "We’ve done a lot of hard work in taking people who can bake, taking people who can run businesses, and professionalising the craft by building a great team."

John Ruddock, Coopland & Son (Scarborough), winner of the Trainee Baker of the Year, sponsored by Improve and the National Skills Academy, said: "The award recognises all the hard work and training Cooplands does they’ve invested a lot of time and money in me so I’m proud of myself."

Morrisons Hilmore Lane store in Grimsby was named the winner of the In-Store Bakery Award, sponsored by Scobie & McIntosh; and David McClymont, Lightbody Celebration Cakes triumphed as Celebration Cake Maker of the Year, in the renshawnapier sponsored category.

l To order photos from the night visit http://roblawson.thirdlight.com/a.tlx?k=1dxzetb

l See pages 15-29 for profiles of all the winners and finalists. Full report, see 25 September issue.