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Paul's a student with distinction!

Paul Croker is proof – were it needed – that you’re never too experienced to learn new skills.

At the age of 51, the factory general manager at Premier Foods in Andover has not only completed all seven modules in UKFM’s distance learning programme, but done so with three distinctions, three credits and a pass.

Indeed his work on module six put him in the top 10 per cent of students in the world.

“Yes, it’s been a while since I had to bury my head in textbooks, and I’ve spent a lot of time locked away in the spare room at home, but my view is you’re never too old to learn,” Paul says.

“And because I’m relatively new to the industry, I felt it was important that I brought myself up to speed – and the distance learning course offers such a great grounding in all aspects of milling.”

In fact, Paul joined Premier Foods in 2018. Before that, he’d spent most of his career in engineering and admits he knew nothing about milling.

“When I arrived there were people here with 20 or 30 years’ service, so it was imperative that I got to grips with it as quickly as possible.

“And while I’d previously used flour on an industrial basis with my previous career, I had no idea of the complexity of the process, or how much knowledge I’d need to catch up with.”

Having decided to tackle the distance learning course, Paul says he was fortunate that he had colleague John Bailey to act as his mentor during his four-year period of study.

“John’s forgotten more about milling than I’ll ever know, and it was extremely valuable being able to see how things worked at first hand. And he was very patient with me!”

Paul also pays tribute to his wife Diane, who provided support from the home front.

“Yes, there were times when she didn’t see much of me in the evenings, but at least I can now show her my certificates!”

His job at Premier, and latterly his single-minded studies, have kept Paul pretty busy. But he still finds time for the other great loves in his life: he plays soprano cornet in a local brass band in his hometown of Trowbridge. He and Diane also have three grandchildren.

But he is justifiably proud of his achievements, and is an enthusiastic advocate of the benefits of the distance learning course.

“It’s a superb resource and a brilliant way of learning about the industry,” he says. “I would recommend it to anyone who wants to build a career in milling.”


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