A bakery apprentice from Wrexham has risen to the top win an award.
Tom Jackson, 22, who works for the Village Bakery, is Coleg Cambria’s Food Manufacturing Work-Based Learner of the Year 2016.
It is the second year in succession for the Village Bakery to clinch the title, with Tom taking over from last year’s winner Daryl Stephenson, 37.
Tom, from Coedpoeth, was unemployed for eight months after leaving the sixth form at Castell Alun High School, in Hope.
After spotting a job ad for the Village Bakery in April 2013, he applied and hasn’t looked back since.
After gaining a Level 3 NVQ in baking industry skills, Tom has now been promoted to supervisor at the family firm’s bakery in Minera, near Wrexham, and has now been put on the 12-month management development programme.
He and Daryl, who now works in the new product development department at company’s Baking Academy and Innovation Centre on Wrexham Industrial Estate, were honoured at the student awards ceremony.
They were also presented with apprenticeship, NVQ certificates and gold pins on behalf of the company by the Village Bakery’s operations director, Simon Thorpe.
Tom said: “I am really proud of what I have achieved and I am really enjoying life at the Village Bakery, it’s a great place to work and they look after you really well.
“They are hot on personal development and in January they took me and a few others to St Vith in Belgium, to learn about sour dough and to do some artisan baking. It was a brilliant experience.
“I must confess that until I saw the job ad I had never ever thought about becoming a baker. I never planned for it to happen that way but I’m really glad that it did.
“It’s a really friendly company and they make you feel welcome. It didn’t take long to settle in and if you work hard, you are rewarded – I’ve come a long way in three years.
“Working here is exciting and it is great to be part of the Village Bakery’s success story. We get great feedback from customers and that makes me feel very proud.
“I’m looking forward to a really bright future at the Village Bakery. I want to progress and be a manager one day.
Daryl was delighted to hand over the baton to Tom.
He said: “It’s great news and Tom deserves it because he was studying and working at the same time. I’m pleased to be handing over the title to him.
“It was a great boost to my career at the Village Bakery so hopefully it will do the same for Tom.
“Working here has been a constant learning curve, it’s great. I love it. It’s the perfect job for me. I like to develop recipes and flavours and tastes, and new technology, it’s brilliant. I couldn’t ask for more.”
Simon Thorpe said: “I am incredibly proud that our people have been honoured as work based learners of the Year for two years running.
“Tom’s dedication, commitment and passion is exemplary.
“Without question, if you cut Tom in half you would see he’s Village Bakery through and through.
“The growth of the Village Bakery has been phenomenal in recent years and our success is all about the people who work here, our Village People.
“We have always been able to develop our own talent. Most of our managers and supervisors started out as apprentices and that’s important because they have bought into the Village Bakery ethos of doing things in the right way to ensure that quality is always king.
“People like Tom and Daryl are providing a firm foundation for future growth and even more success.”