Oh what a night! I am of course referring to the 2014 Baking Industry Awards, held at the Park Lane Hilton in London, a grand hotel which is well suited to accommodate a very glitzy evening. 

With all competitions, my dad’s voice still rings in my ears. “The only competition worth winning is the bank balance at the end of the month,” he used to say. And of course this is very grounding indeed, and is a mantra I still employ in the business. But surely you have to celebrate your winnings with as much accord as creating them?

The whole of the Baking Industry Awards is based on celebrating our industry, with all of the pomp and ceremony we can muster. The event is about celebrating our very talented bakers and confectioners, craft bakery and plant bakery businesses, cake decorators, our rising stars, and even supermarket in-store bakeries. It is about all who have had a positive effect and/or influence on our trade.

To enjoy all of this, all you have to do is enter the competition, which is free, with each category generously sponsored by allied traders, a supermarket, and philanthropic supporters to this industry.

The question to ask is, why didn`t you enter? What excuse did you concoct to pacify your apathy of putting pen to paper?

Competition is an everyday affair, either in the high street (what’s left of it), in the workplace or even in school, so why should open competitions within the trade be any different?

Competitions are exciting, they get the adrenaline flowing, they let you have a moan at the judges if you don`t win. We (Greenhalgh’s) didn’t win in three categories this year but, hey, we were there as finalists and that’s the most important thing!

It gave us the opportunity to send eight members of the team, to London, to a grand ball, to experience London’s night life in a very majestic hotel, and - the very best part - all travel and hotel expenses were paid for.

There are many spin-off benefits to treating your loyal staff to a night out in London, thanking them for all their efforts in the last year.

You can use the competition to let your staff enhance their trade skills in either product development or cake decorating. That may be by creating a little competition within your company, allowing several members of your staff to compete and then selecting the best candidate to represent your business in the competition.

It’s all do-able, all you have to do is apply for the entry forms. Just what have you got to lose? And yet you’ve so much to gain! Or are you frightened that somebody out there might be better than you?

My wife Susan and I were very generously invited to the event by Martyn Leek, editor of British Baker, as I have the privilege of being your National President of the Craft Bakers’ Association. May I thank Charles Reed, Martyn Leek and all their colleagues at William Reed Business Media for their very pleasurable company and selfless generosity, which I thoroughly enjoyed at the Baking Industry Awards.