Alex started at Cherrytree Bakery on a two-month temporary contract after returning from travelling in Australia. Now, 10 years on, Alex works in the new product development team and has become a real-life Paul Hollywood.
He said: “Cherrytree isn’t just a job, I have found my career.
“I’ve worked in NPD for about three years and we regularly get given a challenge by a customer. It might include reengineering an existing product or creating something completely unique.
“I like to think of each product as a work of art whether it’s a muffin, traybake or brownie – I really enjoy making something you can see and touch and taste and it gives me such a sense of pride creating something new for people to enjoy.”
Alex from Burnley, said his curiosity helped him progress through the ranks at the bakery.
“I started on a two-month temporary placement. A few months later, Cherrytree offered me a permanent contract. For three months I folded boxes and did a lot of people watching. I loved watching how the machines worked and figuring out what they did. It was distance learning through people watching.
“From there I worked on packaging, injecting, ovens, mixing, in the warehouse and running a night shift. I have worked in almost every position and learnt as much as I could on the factory floor.”
A position came up for a trainee New Product Development (NPD) operative about three years ago and Alex applied for the job – and got it.
He said: “It is very challenging, but very fulfilling. I get such a kick out of seeing advertisements for the products I’ve created in the test kitchen. I joked to my partner that more people see my art each day than the Mona Lisa. There’s also lots of taste testing – which no one complains about!
“I love hearing the feedback from customers when a product is eventually launched.”
As well as providing a career, Cherrytree Bakery are also helping Alex further his education.
He said: “I have dyslexia and dyspraxia and left school with a basic education. Cherrytree are currently supporting me to get NVQs in English and Maths. They’ve also paid for a tutor to help me.
“I had no IT skills when I joined, and now I’m confident emailing, researching on the internet, and filling out spreadsheets. I have already learnt so much through Cherrytree bakery.”
Despite not having a driving licence, Alex has also got his forklift truck through the company too.
He added: “I know the difficulties are still there, but I don’t feel like they are a problem because I have the support of the team. It really is a great place to work.”