Christmas wasn’t the only thing being celebrated when volunteers and supporters gathered at the Companions’ Real Bread bakery on Mill Street in Bedford.
Major Graham Bailey and three other band members from Bedford’s Salvation Army roused the Christmas spirit with a couple of carols, before presenting a cheque for the splendid sum of £1,161, which had been collected for Companions at the Army’s two carol concerts a few weeks previously.
Maggie Rich, managing director of Companions who accepted the donation, said: “This feels like a ringing endorsement from the people of Bedford. They must like what we’re trying to do here.”
The bakery offers work experience, training and other support to ex-offenders trying to resettle effectively into the community and not reoffend.
After the drawing of a raffle for a hamper put together and generously donated by one of their volunteers, Maggie went on to announce some exciting news.
Since moving into the Old Fire Station in Mill Street in January 2017, the bakers have known that they would have to move out for a period of at least three months when work starts to remodel and renovate the building.
A few weeks ago, Simon Gillett invited Companions to move their bakery into his premises when the French bakery, Delices, ceased to operate at the end of December.
Companions will rent the fully-equipped bakery, and the café in front will be renamed The Gallery and offer the bakery’s sourdough bread and other goods, and also a new menu of food and coffee.
Simon said: “I have been in the hospitality industry in London for 10 years managing national stores and when this opportunity arose I had no hesitation in involving myself in such an exciting new venture.”
The Art Centre, who have occupied the premises at 7 Howard Street since 1996, are delighted to welcome Companions and The Gallery to the site which will offer an exciting new destination to shop and eat.
The move is planned for the middle of January and Maggie added: “It’s all happened very quickly and we’re not sure yet quite how things will go. But we’ll keep the interruption to our customers’ bread supply as short as possible – we know how much they love our sourdough.”