It’s going to be one amazing conference.

I know you’ve already said it, because I have said it also in the past: "Why in the hell should I go to the National Conference?"

I also added: “Just what good is it? What benefit will I get from it, also why should I give up my weekend?"

These are all really good questions in their own right, so let me try and answer them.

There is a perception that the only people that attend the conference are a bunch of old and decrepit has-beens that listen to a bunch of even older people witter on about some old subject that has no relevance in today’s business environment, and yes, I admit it, that about summed it up for the only conference I ever attended quite some time ago... it bored me stupid.

My own time is precious to me and I also prefer to spend it with my lovely family. But, and it is a big BUT… over the last 12 months, there has been a monumental shift in management and impetus of our association, since those days of boring speeches and fancy dress parties.

Business is back on the agenda.

One of our noted speakers this year is from Camden BRI, letting us all now about the new label regulations coming into force at the end of this year. A word of warning, though, the new regulations are far-reaching and will affect everybody that sells anything that’s wrapped, so be warned. This topic alone is well worth the journey down.

The AGM has also been separated away from the main event. This year it will be held at Bakers’ Hall on the Friday afternoon prior to the conference. The event will also see the formal passing over of the Chain of Office.

My presidency will be for a two-year term of office, this was deemed necessary to establish some of the changes needed and for continuance. On Friday evening, there is a social gathering, a short cruise on the River Thames, with nibbles and a drink, again another great opportunity to network with potential customers and suppliers alike.

The board of directors, under the watchful eye of Mike Holling and Karen Dear, have created a mini trade exhibition, with some of the more well-known ingredients and service providers, so that Craft Bakers’ Association members can network and all of the papers presented at the conference will be brief and to the point.

The enthusiastic youth have also been invited to demonstrate their new-found skills and I urge you to offer encouragement. Please remember these guys are our trade’s future and it is our privilege to bring and encourage these young people into our fold. And, who knows, you may meet your future bakery manager.

Soon you will be getting an invite through the mail, or you will see an application form inviting you to the National Conference. You can either come to the whole conference, or just a part of it, so you can choose what is relevant for your business.  

We also want to celebrate all that our amazing businesses and talented people stand for, so I think it is fitting to have a banquet on the Saturday evening, with no boring speeches, just a lot of fun to be had.

It is your conference, organised for you, and for your benefit. And, with the level of business mindfulness now being incorporated, it would be a missed opportunity not to attend.

I hope to see you there.

Craft Bakers’ Association Conference

23 - 24 May, London 2014