The British Confectioners' Association - Established 1905
A group of twenty-six people representing the practical craft sector of the bakery and flour confectionery industry met in 1905 to form the BCA, under the guidance of Mr. H G Harris. The main aims were to meet regularly to promote the skills of the trade and exchange ideas, to enhance their businesses, to encourage the study of confectionery as an art form, to provide social intercourse between members and to promote trade interest. They were spread throughout many regions of the United Kingdom.
The association has survived to celebrate its centenary because it has not deviated from those original principles. The membership, which is confined to sixty people, has continually evolved and has featured many of the outstanding craftsmen and top bakery businesses throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The founding Secretary was John Macadam, a publisher, whose father had been a baker in Scotland. He carried out the job for 40 years. Thereafter his grandson John Copeman took up the post in 1950 and continued for 51 years maintaining a remarkable family commitment to the association. The current secretary is Tim Cutress, a baker from Brighton, who was elected as a member in 1982 and took over in 2001.
The chairman is elected for a two year period having served as Chairman Elect for two years. He drives the association. Candidates for the post are elected on seniority, attendance and region; there is an unwritten rule that every fourth chairman is Scottish as a quarter of the membership come from north of the border. Each individual Chairman brings his own particular style and ideas, which contribute to the unique character of the association.
Meetings take place five times a year and are initially planned by the chairman. The organising is then delegated to different members to arrange. A typical meeting commences early on a Tuesday afternoon and comprises of different craft related and technical sessions of no longer than one hour’s duration. BCA members are traditionally not good at sitting down for long periods! A short business meeting will follow. The emphasis for the rest of the day involves members mixing socially, when ideas can be exchanged on an informal basis. At the evening dinner a raffle ticket system is used so as to mix all the attendees thus eliminating the formation of cliques. The following morning is spent visiting the organiser’s bakery and shops. On alternate years an overseas study tour takes place lasting 3-4 days.
Membership is by invitation only. Ideally candidates should be aged between 30 and 50 with a convincing craft / business CV relating to the baking industry. They must be fully active within the trade and be able to bring new ideas, imagination and enthusiasm to the BCA. New members are elected having attended at least two meetings as a guest and require a proposer and two seconders from within the membership.
An attendance rule exists in which at least four meetings must be attended in a two-year period, resulting in those not fully committed to the association being removed from the role. Currently 75% of the membership have been elected in the last 15 years. All members should also be prepared to host a meeting every 7 years.
Any member, who has been in the organisation for 15 years and no longer has an active role in the trade, can elect for past service. This has ensured a continual evolution in the membership, bringing endless enthusiasm and a wealth of new ideas to the BCA.