August 24, 2017
by Kaitlyn Estens
Despite four decades of experience working in the baking industry, Garry “Chook” Chapman, has finally embarked on gaining his formal trade qualification.
The long-time Coonabarabran Bakery employee will finish his baking apprenticeship before Christmas.
Chook said he had been working at the bakery on and off for nearly 40 years.
“I went in and asked Cocky (Neate) for a job and he gave me a start,” Chook said.
“Peter Estens was the apprentice at the time, so I was just working there.”
After moving back to Coonabarabran in 1998, Chook began working back at the bakery, which had been taken over by Keith and Ros Flood several years prior.
Although he was initially reluctant when Keith first asked him if he would like to complete his apprenticeship, Chook has gone on to complete all necessary study.
He was even selected as an “Apprentice of the Year” finalist at the Regional Training Awards, held in Tamworth earlier this year.
With years of experience under his apron, Chook has not been required to travel for practical workshops due to extensive recognised prior learning.
“If I had done my apprenticeship back when I first started at the bakery, I would have had to regularly travel to Newcastle for one to two week blocks, over four years.
“Now the apprentices only go once a month - to Tamworth or Armidale - a bit closer to home.
“They also come over and assess you now.”
Chook said he enjoyed his job and working with the team.
“Every day has the same routine, but you’re always making something different.
“Things have changed a lot over the years - we used to cut everything by hand, but now we have machines to do it.
“We’re making more quantities and more things too.”
While he wouldn’t spill the beans on the mischief behind the bakery doors, Chook did admit the hours were difficult for new apprentices.
“In the beginning it knocks you around a bit.
“We used to start at three in the morning and you wouldn’t get home until 12. Then you wouldn’t go to bed until four or five in the afternoon and you wouldn’t get up until you had to go to work.
“That’s why we do different hours now - different people do different times.”
Garry “Chook” Chapman is currently completing his baking apprenticeship at Coonabarabran Bakery, after four decades working in the industry.
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