This is the time of year were we take stock of what we have achieved and enjoyed over the last twelve months.

It’s been a hard year, especially with all the new interruptions from Parliament. Looking back is a natural thing to do, as quite rightly we like to perceive we`re in a better position than we were this time last year. It’s a type of moral stocktaking - our personal end of year audit.

With Christmas around the corner, all the shops are now selling our festive products and hopefully all of us will have a bumper year. At this traditional time of year, and especially this year, can I ask you to think of the less fortunate? People who are going through a rough patch and need a helping hand or help getting through the day.

It is easy to dismiss the dire situations people find themselves in, from living rough on the streets or in pitiful squalor to finding themselves completely alone in life. These are wretched trademarks of the consumerist world in which we live in today.

Some of these people are bakers, craftsmen and women of their own era, now long forgotten. Once, people would have respected their talents and learned from them to master their own skills, so they too could create a worthwhile career for their family. We owe these people our time and our compassion because it is they who formed and laid the foundations of our business in which we trade so well in today.

In 1832 a bakers’ alms-house was commissioned to specifically look after bakers and/or their immediate families which needed to be taken care of. Today it is still carrying out this great service and is overseen by the very respectful Bakers Benevolent Society. The Epping Villas are situated naturally on Bakers Lane in Epping and are comprised of one- and two-person flats and also bungalows, which are in their own spacious area in the grounds. Each resident or life partner in these accommodations have at one time been one of our trade colleagues, and consequently command our attention and respect.

The Craft Bakers Association, via its trustees, is the custodian of the Benevolent and Education Fund. This fund exists solely for the benefit of the less fortunate retirees and for the improvement of youngsters coming into the trade. It is an active fund sponsoring the Villas with much needed equipment, for example wheelchair lifts.

Young people have also been partly sponsored to attend conference, so that they can network with today’s captains of industry. However, over the years the education funds have depleted to a point where we need some financial and practical support, so that we can carry on preparing our enthusiastic youth on your behalf for tomorrow’s baking industry.

This Christmas, can I ask you to help the Craft Bakers Association so that it can help others? If you know of a retired baker or their immediate family, which may need a helping hand in some way, please let us know, and our head office will then take on this privileged role. Everybody needs help every now and then, so let’s make this Christmas count.

On behalf of all the directors, Karen Dear and all our colleagues at the Craft Bakers Association head office in Ware, we wish you a very happy and holy Christmas, and let’s hope that 2016 is as interesting and as fascinating as this year.