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Matthew Booth goes from bank manager to baker with Live Love Loaf in Leek

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: September 04, 2014

By Belinda Hargreaves

  • From left, Matthew Booth, his wife Clare, and their three-year-old daughter Abigail, with apprentice Alex Andrews.

  • From the left: Matthew Booth, his wife Clare, and their three-year-old daughter Abigail, with apprentice Alex Andrews.

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A Leek man has swapped financial spreadsheets for bags of flour and an apron to set up his own bakery.

Matthew Booth, who was born and bred in the town, moved to Manchester 10 years ago after completing his A-Levels at Westwood High School.

After attending university and then spending most of the last decade in working his way up to be a bank manager for Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Matthew has now set up his own bakery in Leek.

The 28-year-old said: "I was made redundant from my bank manager position in June, but instead of feeling down about it I was quite excited as I had been building up a business baking bread and wanted to set up my own bakery."

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Father-of-one Matthew started baking loaves at the age of 18 as a hobby and later began supplying colleagues after fellow finance staff spotted his different flavoured breads in his packed lunches.

He said: "It just grew from there and at one point my wife Clare and I were baking every Sunday to cope with the demand from bank colleagues."

Former nursery nurse Clare and Matthew then set up a Facebook page about their breads, which led to them being invited to sell their wares at the monthly Totally Locally Sunday Supplement markets in Leek.

After Matthew was made redundant from RBS, he and Clare decided to move from their home in Manchester, with their three-year-old daughter Abigail, back to Matthew's home town to set up their bakery business, which they have named 'Live Love Loaf'.

Clare, aged 25, said: "I think Leek is wonderful. It's not as busy as the city and the people here are really nice. We have had a lot of support in opening up our bakery."

The pair have been helped financially after coming second in the 'Dragon's Den'-style Start-Up Competition in Stoke-on-Trent and being awarded £10,000.

This has been mostly used to purchase an enormous bread oven for the shop, in Bath Street.

The different ranges of breads on offer at 'Live Love Loaf' include ale and walnut, beetroot, GI, fig and black pepper, along with traditional whites breads. Matthew said he is also open to challenges for different flavours of bread.

Matthew said: "We wanted to offer breads which you can't normally buy in Leek. Our aim is to make bread exciting and not just something that holds a sandwich together.

"Our fig and black pepper bread goes well with cured hams, while our ale and walnut bread is nice with a range of cheeses."

Matthew and Clare are employing four others to help them in their new venture, including apprentice baker Alex Andrews, from Leek. The 17-year-old said: "As well as being trained by Matthew, I will be going to Buxton College one day a week to study for a NVQ Level Two in Craft Baking."

Live Love Loaf is open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 8am onwards. The baking team will also be selling their loaves at local markets in Buxton, Biddulph and Cheadle, as well as Leek's Sunday Supplement.

As for how many loaves of bread Matthew thinks he and his team will be baking each day, he said: "It's really hard to judge. With the Totally Locally market we sell out of the 150 we bake each time for the event. We will just build it up slowly and see where it takes us."

And Matthew readily admits that he said he does not miss the financial world.

He said: "It is a lot different to banking. With being a bank manager it was all about hitting targets. Running a bakery is going to be a different kind of challenge."

Live Love Loaf was officially opened by Leek Town Mayor Keith Harrison on Saturday.

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