Bakery has made ‘huge impact’ on community during Covid-19 crisis
- Credit: Archant
Covid-19 has highlighted many things over the last six months – shortages in resources, services, food and money, never mind the mental and physical affects to our health.
But it has also shown the positive side of humanity - proving how unusual situations can lead to unbreakable bonds being forged and communities rallying together to make an impossible situation seem bearable.
Weston’s Bakery in Sudbury was just one of those businesses who helped the community get through the first few months of lockdown with as much ease and comfort as they could, collaborating with the Sudbury Community Wardens on the Sudbury Community Network scheme to bring their services to their customer’s doors and provide essential food to those most in need.
Husband and wife team Patrick and Chris Weston have owned the bakery on Gaol Lane since 2015 and found one of their toughest challenges to date in 2020 during what is supposed to be their ‘retirement years’.
At 73 years old, Mr Weston had to self-isolate in the couple’s home in Twinstead – which proved very frustrating after being such a hands-on force in the shop.
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Originally from London, baking is very much a family legacy for the Westons with Patrick’s father George opening his first bakery in Hackney in 1930.
One of seven children, Patrick would help his father and brothers after school and at weekends where he learnt his skills from a young age watching his family working in the bakery.
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When George sadly died in 1973, Patrick and his brother Terry took over and ran the business following in their father’s footsteps.
Four years later, Patrick met his wife Christine, known as Chris, who promptly joined the business to share in Patrick’s lifelong family passion.
The couple moved to Suffolk in 1987 before the birth of their second daughter Liz – just as ‘The Great Storm’ swept through the country with Chris remarking at the time: “It ain’t half windy down here.”
Working 13-hour days alongside their business partners, Patrick’s son Jerry and bakery manager Garry Farthing, Chris and the team were the driving force behind producing bread and cakes and sourcing flour, milk and eggs when supplies were dwindling during the lockdown.
Chris said: “At the very beginning it was really hard. Garry and myself were doing between 13 and 14 hours a day as well as the shifts from our night baker Peter.
“We were able to supply flour, potatoes, vegetables, milk, eggs - anything we could get hold of and help people with by selling – that’s what we did.
“Then the Community Wardens came along and said they could deliver orders to people if they didn’t want to leave their homes. They delivered everything for free – they were awesome.”
Co-owner Garry said: “We had to change overnight really - we’ve had to adapt to help feed the community.”
Reflecting on the business post-lockdown, Patrick said: “There isn’t the atmosphere that there used to be in the shop. We’ve lost a lot of customers because they’ve stopped coming out.
“We had to change the concept of what we were and without Garry our head baker, Weston’s would have really struggled as I had to stay behind the scenes a lot due to having to self-isolate.
“I did start to feel left out, and a bit useless really. But it is what it is and I knew the bakery was in really good hands.”
Rachel Price, Town Centre Manager, said on behalf of Sudbury Town Council: “Working closely with our Community Warden Team during lockdown, the team at Weston’s Bakery were extremely generous in their support of Sudbury Community Network which supported over 200 vulnerable people in Sudbury and surrounding villages during lockdown.
“Weston’s donated over 50 loaves of fresh bread a week for food parcels to vulnerable people in our community, that contribution made a huge impact.
“All the while they were baking around the clock to keep up with the increased demand during lockdown as the larger chain stores struggled to keep their shelves stacked.
“Sudbury’s businesses and community are interwoven, Weston’s are the perfect example of this.
“A heartfelt thank you to the Weston’s team.”
Bradley Smith, Community Warden Manager at Sudbury Town Council, said: “During the Covid-19 pandemic, Weston’s Bakery played a huge part in the community, they donated free produce, kept their business open to serve their customers throughout and kept a smile on their faces. Both Christine and Gary supported the Covid-19 Sudbury Community Network surplus food bank setup at St John’s Methodist Church in York Road by supplying 10 loaves of bread a day and then going onto supply other bakery items free of charge to go into the daily boxes that were being sent out to people in need in the community.
“Not only did they do that amazing act of kindness they also went on to ring the team daily to offer the surplus cakes at the end of the day that the community warden team then took round the local shops keeping morale up with staff still at work in local shops.
“Throughout the whole Covid-19 pandemic Weston’s Bakery have worked very closely with the community warden team and they are truly a local business in the local community making a big difference.
“Always a big smile come first thing in the morning or last thing in the afternoon, and now they are extending this into the community more with their new venture Weston’s on Wheels with smiley Gemma and Lisa.”