Two bakery apprentices have risen to the top to win prestigious awards.
The duo from the Village Bakery were honoured at Coleg Cambria’s annual awards for apprentices studying with them.
Daryl Stephenson 36, from Ruabon, was named Bakery Apprentice of the Year while Tim Pluvis, 22, from Llangollen, was crowned Engineering Maintenance Learner of the Year.
Late-starter Daryl fulfilled a life-long ambition to work with food when he joined the Village Bakery three years ago.
The father of two previously worked as a team leader at Tesco and as an aerial installer.
He now works in the family firm’s new test kitchen and recently met the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall when they officially opened the new £4 million Baking Academy and Innovation Centre on Wrexham Industrial Estate.
Daryl, who’s now studying for a Level 3 NVQ< said: “I always wanted to work with food and this was the time to do it. So I applied and I was lucky enough to get a job here.
“When I left school I really wanted to become a chef but at the time I didn’t have the transport to get to Deeside College which was the only place that did it at the time. So I settled for my second choice which was electronics.
“I’m now fulfilling my life’s ambition because I love working with food. With hindsight, I should have done it years ago.
“I’m doing product development and working in the new test kitchen which has wonderful top of the range equipment. Every day is like Christmas and every day is different. There’s always a new challenge, something new is being developed or something’s changed.
“I also got to meet the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall when they came. I had a brief chat with the prince – he’s very funny and very pleasant. It was a great experience meeting him and Camilla as well.
“I was very honoured to win the Bakery Apprentice of the Year Award – you might say I was surprised but very delighted.”
Winning the award was also a proud moment for Tim Pluves who beat stiff competition from 500 engineering apprentices working for other major employers like Airbus, Shell and Magellan.
Tim, a talented rugby player, who represented North Wales in his youth, joined the Village Bakery two and half years ago after studying electrical and mechanical engineering at Coleg Cambria.
He said: “I came here as an apprentice and I’m now doing a HNC course and going into my second year.
“The Village Bakery is a brilliant place to work and they have funded all my studying. They’ve always looked after me and given me the training and opportunities that I desired.
“It’s a growing company, expanding all the time so there are great opportunities here. It’s a go-ahead company and it feels like I joined at the right time but you have to work hard.”
Managing director Robin Jones said: “I am extremely proud of Daryl and Tim. They are a credit to themselves and to the Village Bakery.
“One of our strengths as a company is that 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 Daryl and Tim are providing a firm foundation for future growth and success and we will be training a new generation of apprentices at our state-of-the-art Baking Academy and Innovation Centre.”