Two Cumbrian bakers have been recognised for their wonderful creations in the Bread Hero Awards.

Mike Hall of Ivy Cottage Baker and Aidan Monks of Lovingly Artisan were both crowned runners up for the North West’s Bread Hero by the Tiptree World Bread Awards with Brook Food.

Both bakers were recognised for their outstanding work over the years and in particular their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Mike Hall was recognised for his incredible efforts to provide bread for the local community during lockdown, putting in 14 to 16 hours shifts to deliver bread across Upper Eden.

"We live in rural Cumbria some fifteen miles from Mike’s bakery. He has happily delivered bread to us through the winter despite the lengthy journey, windy sometimes single track roads, and through floods and snowdrifts - often apologising unnecessarily for being late," said Margaret Townsend, one of Mike’s nominators.

Mike Hall of Ivy Cottage Baker, Eden Valley
Mike Hall of Ivy Cottage Baker, Eden Valley

Mike is appreciated not just for his delicious bread, but for the much-needed smiles he provides too. Emma Little, another of Mike's nominators said: “He has been super at keeping our spirits up over the Covid-19 lockdowns as we have sourdough deliveries every Friday - it’s something to look forward to every week."

Aidan, of Lovingly Artisan, Kendal, a sourdough stalwart of the bread industry, was recognised for his incredible efforts over his 30 years of baking to place nutritional bread at the hub of every family home.

Aidan provides bread for the pensioners’ ‘Lunch Brunch’ held at The People’s Cafe, Kendal. This cafe is one of two projects delivered through ‘Waste into Wellbeing’, part of South Lakes Action on Climate Change. The Lunch Brunch provides pensioners with an opportunity to gather with friends and make new friends whilst eating a wholesome meal. Aidan gives the pensioners a goodie bag of his bread too.

He also assists the second project, ‘Food Shares’, by providing them with bread too. These shares, which are run by a group of volunteers who work hard to collect, sort and store food ready to share, provide local residents with two weekly larder-style food shares at Stricklandgate House and Hallgarth Community Centre.

Aidan Monks of Lovingly Artisan, Kendal
Aidan Monks of Lovingly Artisan, Kendal

Aidan is also passionate about education. During lockdown he established the ‘Lovingly Artisan Virtual Baking Club’ on Facebook to support others in sourdough baking. As part of the group, Aiden shares recipes, tips, guidance and motivation. To date, the club has over 1000 members.

Hundreds of nominations were sent in from across the UK. "All the nominees in this year’s awards truly deserve recognition for their generous, considerate and often altruistic initiatives to help others," said Stephen Hallam, Chairman of the Judges.

13 regional winners were selected by the judging panel. In addition to the regional winners, there was a selection of special awards: Brook Food Dream Team Award, KitchenAid Home Baker Hero, Shipton Mill Real Bread Hero, Tiptree Outstanding Achievement Award, Wright’s Flour Award for Innovation, Zeelandia Award for Sustainability.

One of the judges, Britt Box, She Who Bakes, said: "It has been another strange year and it is so lovely to read stories of the bread heroes who have carried on, diversified, given back and risen to the challenge (pun intended!). They are all an absolute credit to their communities."

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