Kempston baker honoured in national ‘Bread Heroes’ awards

These awards recognise the bakers, millers and farmers

A baker from Kempston has been honoured in the Tiptree World Bread Awards Heroes with Brook Food for East England.

Sheila Pledger, a pensioner who runs Pledgers - a family bakery in Kempston - was declared runner up in a special online awards evening on Tuesday, October 13.

Throughout lockdown, Sheila managed to keep Pledgers - the family bakery she has run for 66 years - open six days a week, starting at 5.30am every morning.

Sheila has run the family bakery for 66 years

“It has been kept open with only her serving behind the counter all during lockdown, and she is in her eighties and finds it difficult to stand and move, but she is always cheerful, asking how everyone is,” said Elizabeth Webster, who nominated Sheila for the award.

“Sheila employs local people, and I have not known a day when the bakery has been closed, save for her husband’s funeral.

Sheila is helped at the bakery by her son, Chris Pledger and Paul Dennis, who has worked at Pledgers since childhood and is now almost at retirement age.

Elizabeth added: “Sheila said that she could not run the shop without them, as they do the work in the back, while she works in the front.

In normal times, the awards celebrate the bread, hundreds of loaves would be delivered for assessment by a panel of esteemed judges.

Instead, in a special edition for 2020, the awards recognise the people behind the loaves: the bakers, millers and farmers.

Hundreds of nominations for the Bread Heroes were sent in from across the UK.

Stephen Hallam, chairman of the Judges, said: "All the nominees in this year’s Awards truly deserve recognition for their generous, considerate and often altruistic initiatives to help others."

There were 12 regional winners selected by the judging panel. One of the judges, Emma Freud, executive producer Comic Relief, said: "These nominees were so well found - each of them have done remarkable things for their communities, using their talent with bread to make life easier for people who need support.

"It was a seriously tough choice, but I am confident we got the right winners."

"The efforts of the bread community during these challenging times have been truly inspiring." said Scott Goodfellow, joint managing director, Tiptree.

"We are delighted that this year’s awards have been able to shine a light on their incredible endeavours."