A bakery pioneer said that being presented with his MBE at Buckingham Palace was the “biggest honour” of his life.

Alan Jones, 80, a founder of the Wrexham-based Jones Village Bakery, was being recognised for his contribution to the food industry and the economy of Wales.

The medal was presented in the ornate Throne Room by Princess Anne and Mr Jones was accompanied by his wife, Wendy, sister Susan and son Robin, who is the company’s managing director.

He also has two other sons, Christien, the bakery’s projects director, and Tim, who has a successful career in the property industry.

The appointment at the palace brought back memories of the two times Mr Jones met the King when he was the Prince of  Wales –  including the occasion when he inadvertently burnt the fingers of the then heir to the throne.

The grandeur of the presentation was a far cry from the day back in the 1960s when he and his father took over a back street bakery with five members of staff in Coedpoeth.

Since then the family firm has grown spectacularly. It now has six bakeries, employs 850 people and is heading for a record £100 million turnover this year.

Speaking after the ceremony, Mr Jones said:  “It was a fabulous experience.  It was the biggest honour of my life.

“Beforehand we were given instructions what to do when, how many steps to take forward, when to bow your head and when to speak. The operation in the palace is like a well-oiled machine.

“The presentation took place in the Throne Room with thrones for the King and the Queen.

“I was apprehensive about getting everything dead right but Princess Anne was superb and made me feel at ease straightaway.

“I said ‘Good morning Your Royal Highness’  and she asked how long I had been a baker and she told me that she loves the smell of bread.

“Apparently, I was talking to her for about two minutes – she showed a genuine interest. She’s a fantastic woman.

“I had originally hoped that King Charles was going to be there because I have met him twice before – when he opened a new bakery for us in 2015 and years ago at the official opening of Erddig Hall in 1977  when I baked some bread in the kitchen there.

“Just as he was walking through the kitchen with his entourage I was peeling bread out of the oven after being baked for 40 minutes.

“I popped the bread on the table and in his wisdom the Prince picked up a loaf which was red hot because it had just come out of the oven.

“Basically he burnt his hand. I apologised and he was absolutely fine and we had a nice chat.

“After he left for another part of the visit, I got the bread together with some rolls and took them to where his  helicopter was parked.

“I was across carrying two carrier bags full of fresh bread when all of a sudden I was pounced on by security but they were okay once I explained that it was for the Prince’s picnic on Anglesey.

“We spoke about that when he opened the new bakery and we had a laugh about it.

“I’m now really glad that I received the MBE from Princess Anne because I wouldn’t have met her otherwise. She was delightful and really down to earth.

“The whole visit comprised three hours and it was an unforgettable experience.”

In 2018 Mr Jones was presented with the Outstanding Contribution Award at the Baking Industry Awards.