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New state of the art bakery opens at Prior's Court school

The bakery has a shop, where a variety of tasty items can be bought

A new state of the art bakery has been officially opened at Prior’s Court school near Newbury.

Bread and Beyond has been created with the aim of giving young people living with autism the chance to gain skills, to help them learn what it’s like to work.

The bakery is not just a training environment - it's a fully commercial operating business, with its very own artisan bakery manager in charge of the making and selling.

Teaching the pupils how to bake - and keeping the bakery business is running - is Dylan Needham. 

He says it’s truly wonderful to see the impact learning simple methods has on people’s lives:

"It's overwhelming to know I'm part of it.

"It's even fantastic that when this goes full flow - and we can get people out in the work place - it'll be more wonderful than words can explain."

The school's CEO, Mike Robinson, says the bakery opening is a positive event to look back on - made possible by the generous support of the local community.

Yesterday's official bakery opening came months after three staff members from Prior's Court lost their lives in a minibus crash on the M4 last year.

Mike says the outpouring of support in the time after the crash has been incredible.

He's told us he really appreciates the support organisations and individuals give the school all year round, particularly as the bakery project gets fully up and running:

"The bakery has given us a real focus of something positive to think about because we've had a very tough time over the past few months.

"The project is positive because it's something great for our young people, but it's also something for our staff to focus on as well."

Mike feels it’s vital people with autism are given the opportunity to train and learn skills they can use in the workplace:

"Only 30% of all autistic people are in paid employment - and if you have severe autism like our young people do here, the chances are virtually nil at the moment.

"We decided that's not good enough - and we wanted to do something about it."

Former Bake Off contestant Briony Williams was there yesterday to officially open the bakery.

Speaking to our reporter Jonny Freeman, she explained why she thinks the project is so amazing:

Here's the moment the bakery was officially opened, in front of a crowd of parents, politicians, pupils at the school and supporters of the school's work.

(Pictures and video credited to Jonny Freeman)

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