In the final of our series with people who have successfully changed careers we hear from Bill, an artisan baker who is passionate about making great bread!
1. Tell us a bit about yourself
I am an artisan baker using only Flour, Salt, Yeast and Water the only additives I use are Time and Love. I also champion local foods and blog about them at Local and Great.
2. What made you decide to become a baker – what were you doing before? Was it an epiphany or were you actively looking for a career change?
I worked in Local Government for 35 years and also had a very senior Trade Union role in UNISON. Seconded to a major Equal Pay project for 10 years I was not up to date in my normal role (Personnel Officer) and took advantage of the conclusion of the Equal Pay Agreement to re-evaluate my future
3. What process did you go through re: courses, work experience, business advice, etc
As Equal Pay reached the stage where it would go to ballot I took several months leave to train at Ballymaloe Cookery School with Darina and Rachel Allen. I had always cooked and saw a future in food, at Ballymaloe we baked every day and I reignited my love affair with bread. Business was a part of that course so I had both practical and theoretical knowledge to use in a future career.
4. How long did the process take from inspiration to calling yourself a professional?
I tried selling breads from a shared stall at a local market ( with all the right certification) and when it sold and people were keen on it I set up in my own right so about 6 months or so from inspiration to completion.
5. What does a typical day involve for you?
Baking! Sometimes for the Market, sometimes for private clients, and sometimes just to experiment with neww breads. I also regularly teach lessons at home and have worked with groups from Communities First teaching them the delights of dough.
6. What are the best bits about your job?
Seeing people come back regularly for my breads and being told my Soda Bread is the best this side of Rosslare. I also love former students telling me how they now bake daily and thattheir families love their breads. Talking about bread at Food Festivals and other functions has to be a great day as well.
7. And the worst bits?
Overnight bakes to deliver fresh for the Market – I am an early night person, and standing in the cold/raain at outdoor markets.
8. Has the change been a good one for you?
Amazing change, literally life changing. I am producing a good product and have control of my life! I also get to meet some brilliant people.
To make an enquiry about Bill’s courses email email@example.com. You’ll find him at Llanyrafon Manor Market in Cwmbran on the last Sunday in the month. I caught his Real Rant at the 2013 Abergavenny Food Festival and you can see just how keen he is about great local producers.
Bill has been working even harder since this interview was originally published in Feb 2014. He’s moved to larger premises, gained new stockists, and has been accepted as a Producer Member of the Guild of Fine Food.
Thank you to everyone who took part in this series of interviews. You can read the rest of them here. If you felt stuck in a job that’s not fulfilling you, I sincerely hope that you can see it’s possible for you to make a career change and enjoy what you do.