A grandmother of eight has been honoured after celebrating 25 years at a leading bakery.
Bosses at the family-run Village Bakery paid tribute to Denise Matthews, 62, and described her as one of their “superstars”.
The mum-of-four is a popular member of the team in the pie room at their bakery in Minera.
Her time at the Village Bakery has coincided with their phenomenal growth which has seen them become of the leading craft bakeries in the UK, with 400 staff in three bakeries.
After a ceremony when she was presented with a bouquet and a contribution towards a holiday in Lanzarote, Denise said she had no intention of hanging up her hairnet just yet.
According to Denise, baking is in her genes because her father, Ben Williams, was also in the business.
Outside work she loves it so much that she carries on baking at home, making cakes for family and friends.
Denise said: “I joined the Village Bakery in 1992 and I’ve loved it here since the very start.
“There’s a really nice atmosphere here and everybody pulls together and that shows in the quality of what we do. The pies are all nice but the pork pies are my favourite, they’re lovely.
“Although the Village Bakery has grown a lot, it’s a family company and they really look after you
“They are a really nice family and if you have any problems you can talk to them.”
She added: “I’ve always been into baking and people keep telling me to enter the Great British Bake Off but I’d rather do it just for my family.
“I make birthday cakes for my eight grandchildren who keep me busy with babysitting duties. I love them to bits.”
One of Denise’s biggest fans is pie room manager Kerry Wilson.
Denise took Kerry under her wing as a mother hen figure when he was a young 18-year-old baker.
Kerry said: “Denise is a lovely woman, she’s the salt of the earth and she’ll do anything for you.
“We go back a long way. When I first started Denise looked after me like a mother figure.
“Her commitment and her love of the job shine through and help make our products the best they can be.”
It was a sentiment echoed by managing director Robin Jones.
He said: “People like Denise are the backbone of the Village Bakery. We’re proud of her because she’s seen us move from a tiny little bakery at puddings and pies on the Five Crosses Industrial Estate to where we are today. “She’s seen many changes but has always been Denise. She is a constant and I think people like provide the DNA of the bakery.
“She gets the ethos of the Village Bakery about quality. Her experience and her knowledge rubs off on the new members of the staff who join us.
“The turnover of the staff up in the pie room is miniscule and one reason is that. Denise helps make sure that everyone is working very hard but having a great time and I think she’s a superstar.”