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South West Branch News

From Jane Wills

The Branch went to Cornwall for its latest meeting on 17 May. An overnight stay was arranged at Jamaica Inn, and a few of the early arrivals visited the museum to get into the mood of pirates, smuggling and stories of the haunted guest bedrooms. We all enjoyed an evening meal followed by a game or two of darts and pool, which brought out the competitive nature of the group: there may have been a little bit of cheating but there was an awful lot of laughter.

Proper Cornish in Bodmin kindly hosted the Branch meeting the following day. We all appreciated the hard work involved in organising such a large group of people because more than 35 attended the meeting, which, logistically, was a challenge in itself. So we would like to extend a huge thank you to Will and Dave from Proper Cornish for looking after us so well, and were glad they were able to join us for dinner at Jamaica Inn.

Karoline Rowlands, Branch Chair, thanked Caroline Darvill for organising our trip and Mike McDonald for arranging our stay at Jamaica Inn. Caroline has formally taken over the role of National Treasurer, and Shelley Alder has now taken up the position of Branch Treasurer. We wish them both all the very best in their new roles. In her new role, Shelley presented Johanna Town her Membership certificate (pictured).

Following the meeting, we split into several groups for a factory tour, which was absolutely fascinating. All the pasties are hand finished, which is very labour intensive, and products are sourced locally, where possible, and delivered fresh to the company, daily.

Will Acton from Proper Cornish then spoke to us about the growth of the company, the need for branding, and that they now produce smaller products suitable for schools that have less fat and salt. The company has had to build a brand new factory to accommodate the increase in demand for their products. It was very interesting seeing the products being made, which included some of us trying our hand on the belt with crimping. The feedback from those who participated was that it was far harder than it appeared – the staff are very skilled and made it look so easy.

The underlying philosophy of the company is one of quality and customer service. To help them achieve this they are mindful of the importance of looking after their staff. That came through very much in our factory tour – the staff all appeared happy and smiling and we were acknowledged wherever we went. Clearly a happy, productive and engaged workforce.

The Branch then enjoyed a light lunch followed by a tasting session of some of the products available. The tasting rounded off the day well and increased our awareness of the company’s ethics and passion for quality. All in all a great meeting and social.

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