Alan Clarke looks back at seven years as chief executive of industry organisation Scottish Bakers

It is with a heavy heart that I leave Scottish Bakers. It has been a great challenge over the past almost seven years, and one I have relished.

However, I feel it is time for a new challenge and I leave to take up the position of chief executive at Quality Meat Scotland.

Being chief executive of Scottish Bakers has been a great honour and I would like to believe the organisation is in a better position than when I joined.

I have met some fantastic people – not just in Scotland but across the UK and in Europe.

Some of my personal highlights include: visiting bakeries across Scotland and seeing first-hand the passion, enthusiasm and innovation that is going on; seeing our annual conference grow into an award-winning event; our 125th anniversary dinner; attending a number of 40 Group tours across Europe; presenting to the senior members of Scottish Bakers at our Centenary Club; and seeing how strategically Scottish Bakers has grown.

The speakers we have welcomed to our conference – including Tom O’Toole, Lord Digby Jones and, of course, Mich Turner MBE – all had special meaning for me.

Other memories that will stay with me forever include TV presenter and actress Carol Smillie, when she promoted the World Championship Scotch Pie Awards, and Scottish singer and TV presenter Michelle McManus compering our Glasgow dances and singing at our 125th anniversary event – and even dancing to the Bay City Rollers at our Glasgow dance and conference.

I have been welcomed by other associations across the UK and Ireland and in the bakery family at every event I have attended. The support we have received from suppliers to the industry has been second to none.

I leave Scottish Bakers with many business contacts who have now become friends.

A special moment for me was when one of our members said to me at one of our conferences: “Alan, you are not Scottish, you are not a baker, but you are one of us!”

The same baker sent me a message, when he heard I was leaving, and said: “You will always be one of us.”

I have been overwhelmed with the cards, emails, presents and messages of thanks and best wishes I have received since deciding to leave.

I wish Scottish Bakers and the bakery sector all the best for the future and hope that it is only au revoir and not goodbye!