Grasmere Gingerbread bakers Nigel Prickett and Steve Mellor celebrated 25 years’ service.
So shop owners Andrew and Joanne Hunter whisked off the pair, and their wives, to London for a Silver Service afternoon tea at the Ritz, lunch at Harrods, an evening at the Phantom of the Opera and an overnight stay at the Westminster Plaza overlooking the Thames.
Nigel and Steve tell us a little about their magical celebration and lives in the Lake District…
NIGEL PRICKETT, 57, lives in Grasmere with his wife Christine. The couple have a son and daughter and one stepdaughter and two grandchildren.
STEVE MELLOR, 58, is married to Paula. The couple have two children and three grandchildren.
What do you like most about your job?
Nigel: It has to be the fact that I can just jump on my bicycle and be at work in 3 minutes (a bit longer to go home as it is uphill!) I also work with and for great people.
Steve: I love the variety of my job as it also involves making our very own award-winning rum butter. Every day is different with all kind of challenges.
How important to you is working in such a beautiful part of England?
Nigel: Very! I like it that Grasmere can be so busy during the day and then quiet and peaceful in the evening which is my time. I look forward to the spring as I enjoy the countryside and the new beginnings for plant and animal life. I love the autumn colours. Winter time passes me by as it is dark when I go to work and then when I return home.
Steve: The seasons run seamlessly into one another and it’s hard sometimes to notice the subtle changes that let you know autumn or winter are on their way.
Can you believe you have served 25 years here?
Nigel: To be honest, I just don’t know where the time has gone. It only seems like yesterday when I started.
Steve: I don’t really think about it – only when I look at my new Rolex watch!
You travelled to London for your surprise Silver Service gift but how would working in the capital and having to commute every day leave you feeling?
Nigel: I love my lifestyle here, thanks all the same! I hate even being stuck in standing traffic for a minute or so the thought of commuting for an hour or more fills me with dread.
Steve: I suppose you would get used to it and whilst I like the tube it can be claustrophobic – nothing like our rolling hills and green fields that I see every day going to work on my scooter.
Do you still eat Grasmere Gingerbread after all these years?
Nigel: Yes and on most working days! Sometimes it is just for pleasure with my morning and afternoon cups of coffee but more often to check the baking trays as part of quality control (but I don’t eat a slice off every tray!)
A lot of celebrities have visited down the years – who is your favourite?
Nigel: Ade Edmondson was great – he had a bit of banter with us during filming of Ade in Britain which was really nice as some TV people just come to us to do their job and don’t actually have any ‘crack’.
Steve: My favourite celebrity was Dave Hill from Slade. The group’s Slade Alive! album from 1972 was one of the first I bought so to actually meet one of the band members was amazing.
How did the surprise gift from Andrew and Joanne make you feel?
Nigel: Well, it was a massive surprise! It was a complete mystery of course as we didn’t know what we were doing or where we were going. We were treated like royalty and the whole experience will live with me forever. I always thought afternoon tea at the Ritz was something for other people, never thinking it would be something I would ever do. It was a fantastic thing for Andrew and Joanne to do for us and shows how much we are appreciated.
Steve: It felt really good that they would treat us to something like this and we all had the most fantastic time in London. I’d love to do it all again!
Have you any hobbies?
Nigel: Gardening, photography and spending time with my family. Recently I have been treading the boards with the Grasmere Players. I could never have seen me on stage a few years ago but now I love it! I am only doing smallish parts as I find learning lines quite daunting!
Steve: I go fly fishing for trout and coarse fishing for roach and perch on Grasmere and Thirlmere. You really do get away from it all and the time goes past so quickly.
Do you have any unresolved ambitions or dreams?
Nigel: I would love to visit China, fly in a helicopter and do all the ‘Wainwrights’.
Steve: I used to dream about owning and running a guest house and I would like to travel across America and Australia.
What do you like about working in a family firm?
Nigel: Well, we are treated like members of a family! Everyone is on friendly first name terms and hopefully this rubs off on newer members of staff. It’s been a great 25 years – here’s to the next 25 years!
Steve: You get to know everyone and if any problems ever arise they are easily sorted out.