Barnsley bakery business crowned the UK’s Bread Hero

John Foster of Fosters Bakery

The UK’s ‘Bread Heroes’ of 2021 have been announced by Tiptree World Bread Awards with Brook Food. John Foster, Managing Director of Fosters Bakery in Mapplewell near Barnsley, South Yorkshire was selected as Overall Winner. 

The speed and scale of the vaccine roll out meant there were thousands of doses needed at every GP Practice in Barnsley. John and his team stepped forward to assist: providing numerous vehicles and personnel to help deliver the vaccine doses to the Practices. 

For a few days every week, over a period of 6 weeks, up to five Fosters vehicles and drivers were distributing vaccines all over the borough. Each day involved 20 to 30 deliveries, across a 20-mile radius.

This was all at short notice and in addition to the standard business of the family-run bakery, which has been a staple part of village life in Mapplewell for over 65 years.

Initially, the NHS doubted Fosters’ capability until John Foster reassured them that ‘a vaccine is like a cream cake; it requires a fragile, temperature-sensitive, time-critical delivery, and Fosters have been doing those for over 50 years.’  

‘As a direct result of Fosters’ intervention we were able to create a Barnsley-wide delivery schedule that enabled all Practices to vaccinate their patients.’ says James Barker, Chief Executive Officer of Barnsley Healthcare Federation, ‘In real terms this meant we could offer 37 local vaccination sites across the town, it is due to the efforts of the Fosters team that this was possible.

Over 75 per cent of Barnsley residents have been vaccinated by GP Practices, which is an outstanding achievement.’ continues Barker. ‘The Fosters team deserves full recognition for the role they played in making this happen.’

The judges were blown away by John’s efforts. ‘Like many of our nominees, John has demonstrated a tremendous resilience when faced with life’s challenges; in this case a very serious illness. His work and support for the NHS during the lockdown was exemplary.’ said Scott Goodfellow, joint managing director, Tiptree, ‘What made John the outstanding candidate was the personal attention to service and care that he gives to each and every customer.’

In normal times, the Tiptree World Bread Awards celebrate the bread; loaves from around the country would be delivered for assessment by a panel of esteemed judges. Building on the great success of last year, the Awards once again celebrated the UK’s Bread Heroes – the people behind the loaves: from farmers and millers, to bakers and educators.

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.

Thirteen regional winners were selected by the judging panel. In addition to the regional winners, there were 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.’

An exhibition of portraits by photographer Henry Kenyon of the Bread Heroes will be touring the UK.

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