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Goodbye and good luck to our trainers, Judith and Paul

This year, two of our longest-standing trainers took the decision to retire. We’re sure that anyone who attended training courses delivered by Paul Bache or Judith Sunderland will join us in sending our very best wishes for a long and happy retirement.

In these days of simply logging in to attend training courses which are delivered remotely, it’s often easy to forget that, when Judith and Paul started out, all courses were face-to-face only. Not only that, but instead of slick interactive presentations using PowerPoint and Smart boards, the training materials comprised handwritten acetate sheets viewed using an overhead projector!

Paul Bache MBE

Paul, one of our most entertaining and respected trainers, joined the meat industry in 1962 as a trainee butcher. By the mid 1970s he ran a business comprising of 5 retail shops, 2 butchers’ shops, 2 mini food markets (with meat counters) and a ‘hot bread’ shop. In the early 1980s he had a change of career and worked for a national training company assisting the Institute of Meat (IOM) in matters relating to the meat industry’s switch to NVQs. This long service to the meat industry led to Paul being awarded Member of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2007 Queen’s Honours and was also presented with an Honorary Fellowship of the IOM by the Princess Royal in 2022.

Early days

He says, “I first became acquainted with VWA in 1998. There had been a serious E.coli food poisoning outbreak in Scotland where 20 elderly people had died as a result of contaminated meat from a butcher’s shop. The Government had given several million pounds to fund a project to train retail butchers in the UK and to assist them in establishing a food safety system. The Meat and Livestock Commission (MLC) were awarded the contract for butchers in England, and I became a HACCP QA Technical Manager for them, responsible for managing the trainers and consultants approved by the MLC to deliver the project to over 7,000 retail butchers in England. Verner Wheelock was one of those training companies.

I can say that in every respect VWA stood out as the best of a very good collection of training companies and were by far the company I wanted to work with in the future. They were reliable, their trainers were experts, they engaged well with the client groups, the quality of their work and their management of documentation was really good, they could problem solve and importantly they received positive feedback from the butchers.

When I finally left the MLC in 2007, I made the decision to go freelance, and started doing work for VWA who were continuing to provide top quality HACCP and Food Safety training courses, for food manufacturers, caterers, and food retailers, giving me the opportunity on their behalf to deliver training to many blue-chip companies and household names. I have had a wonderful time working with VWA and met some great people – great staff, as well as interesting clients. I have travelled all over the UK (and also the Falkland Isles) delivering training on behalf of VWA, the professionalism of all the staff has always been fantastic, organisation of the courses, accommodation bookings, course material, travel arrangements, all excellent.”

Working with Verner Wheelock

Paul has many great anecdotes about his time training for Verner Wheelock in the early days. Possibly the most memorable is the time that he arrived at a customer’s site for a Food Safety & HACCP course only to find that they expected him to deliver it in a car wash! Not forgetting the tale he always tells about the butcher back in the day who was smoking his own bacon on a garage roof, using a blowtorch!

In latter years, Paul has scaled back his training, delivering the occasional food safety and HACCP course, but concentrating on the Meat Managers’ Hygiene and HACCP courses – Many for Scottish Craft Butchers (formerly the SFMTA). He delivered his last course earlier this year but still has contacts with the meat industry, answering the occasional question or query related to the running and setting up small food businesses.

Paul is enjoying his retirement, indulging his passion of golf. He says, “You will find me somewhere between the 1st tee and the 18th green of the golf course, either playing with the “Seniors” or with my wife Sandra.”

Judith Sunderland

Judith has been a freelance trainer for Verner Wheelock for over 20 years. Always professional and glamorous, she has a real aptitude for engaging learners, which is why she has always been the perfect choice for our Train the Trainer courses.

Judith has a wealth of experience across the board and has trained HACCP, Food Safety and Health & Safety at all levels as well as the Education and Training courses. In addition to working for VWA she has also been the food safety consultant, auditor and trainer for the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

She has also worked on the Review of the Delivery of Official Controls project for the Food Standards Agency – an in-depth exploration of delivery of official controls of food and feed safety and standards by Local Authorities and port health authorities.

Having delivered her final course for Verner Wheelock a couple of months ago, Judith is now embarking on a new adventure, which will see her travel to the other side of the world.

She says, “I certainly enjoyed working with VWA for the last 20 years, starting off with the SFSA Butchers’ Licencing work through other interesting projects such as Gangmasters’ licencing plus delivering training in a wide variety of subjects: food safety; HACCP, H&S, auditing, ethical trading and, probably my favourite, the Training the Trainer courses.

I was pleased to see the new VWA offices in Skipton before I left and wish the team every success in their new location – a new adventure.

Pastures new

My adventure is also just starting. My partner and I decided to do some travelling and decide where we might like to live next. We both wrapped up our businesses and are now travelling to Cornwall, France , Turkey, then ( BA strikes permitting!) off to Australia travelling by motorhome from Sydney via Brisbane up to Cairns with a quick trip to one of the islands of the Barrier Reef. Finally, New Zealand where we will do some more exploring and hopefully find somewhere we both like.”

Sounds fabulous Judith – don’t forget to send a postcard!

We raise a glass to both Judith and Paul to thank them for being excellent trainers for so many years and to wish them the very best for the future.