Once upon a time Bernice wanted to be an academic. Carole had grown up in Cumbria in a foody family. Margaret Thatcher scotched the academic career so with 3 hungry boys to raise they bought a guest house in Windermere – poshed it up and got it into the Good Hotel Guide and Good Food Guide. After 4 years they were ready for some 9-5 and the occasional visit to the cinema so they sold the guest house and moved into a small industrial unit to make food for pubs. In quiet times they made Christmas puddings to Carole’s family recipe.`
A few years later they were making and wholesaling all sorts of frozen foods to pubs. Their visiting grand-daughter always ‘needed’ an ice cream. The growing girth of all staff members (including B&C) indicated that they felt the same. Brake Brothers arrived in the lakes and the retreat from the impending competition saved them from the irresistible curse of Movenpick Cassis sorbet. They sold the frozen food business, torched the antarctic grade thermals, and formed The Ultimate Plum Pudding Company.
We’re still in that small industrial unit but now we’ve spread through 4 more. There are 21 of us in total. We’ve been BRC accredited since 2000. The business is lean though most of us aren’t!
In the office:
Bern is responsible for export and foodservice accounts, overseeing the finances and is currently quality manager. In her spare time she is either doing a PhD on Management teams in small businesses or walking the dog. The dog is very fit for her age as is Bern.
Nicola is a force of nature. A workaholic who has to be levered out at the end of the day, Nicola is genuinely passionate about everything she does. Exceptionally creative, with an impressive background in new product development, Nicola has won many awards for her desserts. With us she has expanded her role to encompass Operations Management and she also turns out to be the best maintenance engineer we’ve ever had. She must have had a Meccano set as a child. Nicola is working her way through various OU courses in business studies, she makes unbelievable celebration cakes and also (not often enough) takes to the fells with her husband who, confusingly, is called Nick.
John joined us in Spring 2015 to assist Nicola with the day to day running of the factory, and the BRC accreditation requirements in particular. He’s brought with him 25 years of valuable experience of food production gained at Heinz. A keen swimmer and diver, John is a Steady Eddie sorting out production and packing issues and generally streamlining things.
Debbie joined the team just before Christmas 2015 and pitched in learning the ropes from sales to dispatch. Debbie will be covering for Christina during 2016 while Christina’s on maternity leave, and will be the friendly voice on the phone answering queries, looking after the website and covering all general admin. Debbie’s enthusiasm for pudding means she’s fitted in effortlessly to the team… Her trousers may be more of a problem.
Carole loves setting up systems and loathes maintaining them. She is evangelical about barcodes and smart phones (which are of course handy bar code readers). Carole has responsibility for all the personalised labels. She had handed over all aspects of production to Nicola and is trying hard not to interfere while providing an advisory role. Carole especially loves the theatre, walking old routes, almost all dogs and their young grandchildren.
Ian joined us in March 2016 as General Manager. An award winning craft baker in his younger days, then choosing ultimately to follow a career in manufacturing management. He has lots of experience in the food & Manufacturing industry.
A family man which is just as well with 7 children between himself and his wife. With a love of rugby Ian can be found round a rugby field most weekends, these days supporting his son’s passion to referee the game rather than playing, & of course rugby always results in a social beer. Like the rest of the staff a huge lover of puddings.
Helen is in charge of our stock system, which allows us to track every gram of every ingredient going into every product. It might seem excessive but it’s a requirement of our British Retail Consortium (BRC) accreditation. (We’ve scored Grade A for over 15 years, which we’re very proud of). Helen’s a besotted Nana with 3 grown up kids to keep her busy. When she's not assisting fundraisers and ordering ingredients she busy in her greenhouse tending to her Toms!
There are 6 chaps and 1 very brave lady in the Kitchen, Roseanne, who is more than capable of holding her own. Dave is in charge and is the man that mixes. Dave comes from a farming background and spent many years working in a Cumberland sausage factory. Dave's holidays are for lambing. John G is Mr check weigh - an ex-squaddy and also ex sausage factory, John just gets on with it and he's taken over as paperwork guru - thank you, John. Banda, on the depositor, is a Sri Lankan living in Ulverston and one day (always next year) he’s going to retire to the house he has had built in Sri Lanka. Local boy Phil spent a few years working in South Africa and returned home with an exotic accent. He’s bike mad and always plans to take his test “soon”. Tom on weigh up is ‘nobbut a lad’ from Cartmel who we first met when he was about 4. His work in weigh up is doing wonders for his manly physique! Tom likes to think he’s been training up an assistant, Neal. Neal lets Tom think this and as a result the weigh up team works very well. Neal is Chief Prankster and responsible for 90% of workplace wind ups.
In packing there is Krzyzstof – he’s Polish so he’s the best. He’s far too old to play football but that doesn’t stop him and of course he’s the best. Actually he is extremely good at everything he does but let’s not tell him that. Andrew is admirably fussy and very scots. He is Krystof's Andrewshka. I'm not wholly convinced the affection is mutual as he is on the receiving end of so many Polish insults. Keeping them all in order is Krzyzstof’s partner Kate. She’s got a great eye for detail and is brilliant at the fiddly stuff – tying perfect bows on fancy packaging and making swing tags and ribbons sit perfectly. We also have ‘giggling’ Sigita in the packing room, an ex-farmer from Lithuania. She’s in amongst the heady fumes of Fortnums cognac as we are 'feeding' thousands of their puds before packing.
Last but not least there’s the warehouse team of Gail and Billy. Gail is just brilliant. If you ask Gail to do something it will be right. She’s unflappable and with remarkable energy and stands no nonsense from the guys. Gail is in charge of fundraiser despatch which is why 99.9% of the time your order will be spot on. And our all-round Mr Fixit is Great granddad, Billy. Also a refugee from the sausage factory, Billy is ex-army and wonderfully dependable. It is noticeable that all our deliveries and collections are timed for when Billy is out the back having a brew.
2 other important personalities
We did have a 6 ft tall 140qt Hobart mixer made in 1950. We bought it for £500 20 years ago and thought it would live forever, sadly not! This has been replaced with a Pro King mixer which has sailed the seven seas from Italy and will hopefully see us through the next 20 years.
Similarly we have one of those prides of Basingstokes – a 1960s Lansing Bagnell electric fork lift truck, which we acquired from a neighbour. It’s got no power steering and no side shift but it can get into the tightest of tight spaces and no we still don’t want a new one.
We bought The Ultimate Plum Pudding from the shop at Low Sizergh Barn. The pudding lived up to its name and was lovely.
I just wanted to congratulate you on your Ultimate Triple Ginger pud, which I had from the Wine Society. Best ever ginger anything that I've ever tried!
I received 'The Ultimate Chocolate Pudding' as a gift for Christmas. It was absolutely delicious. Where can I buy this product.
My brother who hates Christmas puddings had a small slice and then asked for another piece’ I was astonished.
Not being a great lover of Christmas pudding it remained uneaten until summer. We decided we better eat it rather than go to waste! It is the best pudding I have ever tasted.
The Plum pudding we took to North Norfolk for a family get together between christmas and new year and everyone thought it was spectacular (even Jane my partner who is not a fan of christmas pudding)
None of my family would eat xmas puddings until we ate yours… and now everyone does.
Excellent chutneys and excellent on line service.
Delicious & great presents too!
Having just purchased, (and consumed!) one of your Ultimate Plum Puddings, I simply had to commend you on your truthful description of an absolutely first class pudding.