Yorkshire Post, 06/11/2013
THE anxious watching of oven doors to see if cakes have risen or if delicate macaroons are ready on BBC Two’s recent Great British Bake Off has proved baking is back in vogue.
But one artisan bakery in North Yorkshire, which helps ex-servicemen and women, is proving that creating pastries, bread and other delights is not just entertainment for millions of TV viewers but can also help veterans find a new direction after they leave the Forces.
Earlier this year, at the Great Yorkshire Show, TV chef Rosemary Shrager launched her own range of biscuits to raise money for the veterans’ training centre run by Riverside, and now the charity is in line for a national award.
Ten per cent of profits from the sale of Rosemary’s Oaty and Spicy Ginger Biscuits are being donated to charity and are available from a number of independent retailers.
“I’m a great believer in offering fresh starts for people. I’ve been rock bottom myself and I know how baking has literally transformed my own life,” she said.
The Veterans’ Artisan Bakery is part of Riverside’s training centre at its Beacon scheme, located on the edge of Catterick Garrison in North Yorkshire. The Beacon is a purpose-built supported housing scheme for at-risk homeless veterans and is part of the network of support for ex-servicemen and women that Riverside provides around the country.
The recipes for the biscuits were decided by Riverside’s veterans with expert guidance from the TV chef.
Following the launch, the biscuits have gone down well, and Susan Littlemore, project co-ordinator at The Beacon said she hopes that eventually a big nationwide supermarket will be interested in stocking them.
“We have already got outlets that are stocking the biscuits.
“Bit by bit we are getting them into stores and our next big goal is to get them into a big nationwide supermarket. It would be fantastic if a national supermarket would stock them as well,” she added.
The bakery provides training to equip those suffering from post-traumatic stress or those who are vulnerable to homelessness with new career skills and an insight into running a business. The chef has been involved with Riverside from the start after launching the bakery in February 2012 in partnership with Harrogate-based fundraising and marketing consultancy Cause UK.
“I had an instinctive connection with Cause UK, Riverside and the bakery, and its work and how baking can work on a therapeutic level,” she said.
“I have always supported charities that help address mental health issues and I wholeheartedly believe the work the bakery does with veterans who are damaged, physically, mentally or emotionally, can help transform vulnerable lives.”
The bakery provides income from the sales of breads and pastries as well as training and employment opportunities for veterans.
Mrs Littlemore said the project was run very much as a traditional bakery would be. Staff make the artisan breads, which range from rustic breads to olive breads, with bakers even coming up with an unusual black pudding bread, and then deliver them.
“There’s a van that goes out and takes bread to Catterick Garrison and local shops,” Mrs Littlemore added.
Riverside, which supports over 1,000 homeless ex-servicemen and women each year, has also won through to the finals of the national 24Housing Awards for their work with homeless veterans.
Trevor Morris, MoD Area Manager at The Beacon, said: “The current financial climate and reorganisations within the Armed Forces mean that our veterans services are more in demand than ever. We are delighted that our work has been recognised by these national awards.”
The winners of the 24Housing Awards will be announced at a ceremony at Aston Villa football club tomorrow.