Derbyshire baker Luke Evans Bakery has rewarded a customer who has been visiting its shop for an amazing 73 years with free bread and cakes for life.

Eileen Hibbert first began buying bread and baked goods from the bakery in Greenhill Lane, Riddings, at the age of nine when she moved into a house just a few yards away with her parents.

Now 82, she’s still living in the same house, still buying her bread and cakes from the bakery, and has never bought loaves from anywhere else.

Luke Evans Bakery managing director David Yates said: “Eileen has been incredibly loyal to Luke Evans Bakery – buying what must be thousands of loaves over more than 70 years. It’s lovely that she has supported our shop and bakery for so long.

“Eileen has become a friend to all who work at Luke Evans Bakery, and we really appreciate her loyalty. We’re delighted to offer her free bread and cakes for as long as she continues to come to the shop, in recognition of her amazing support.”

Eileen, who was a well-known school crossing patrol person in Riddings for 33 years until she retired in her early 70s, remembers popping to the Luke Evans Bakery shop when it was in its original position, just across the road from where it is now. She would regularly visit the shop as a little girl with her mother and then later she carried on the family tradition by buying her bread from Luke Evans too. At the time, the shop was much more of a general store, selling other items alongside bread and cakes.

The shop moved across the road to its existing position next to the bakery after a fire in the early 1970s – meaning it was just a few doors along from Eileen’s home on Greenhill Lane and she didn’t even have to cross the road to visit.

“I was born on High Street and we came to Greenhill Lane when I was nine. My mum used to use the Luke Evans store for groceries,” remembers Eileen, who has two children and two grandchildren.

“I remember going shopping with my mum and then later getting things for my mum. I have never gone anywhere else for my bread. It’s been a thing I have always stuck to.”

Over the years, her taste in bread has changed. Eileen remembers that the family used to have white bread initially but later switched to buying wholemeal loaves. She also enjoys the cakes baked by Luke Evans Bakery, which was founded in 1804 and is one of the region’s oldest family bakers.

“My favourite is a Bakewell Tart, and I like Eccles Cakes as well,” she adds. With her late husband Albert, she’d also enjoy the cream cakes served up by the baker.

Eileen has seen a lot of changes in Riddings over the decades but is delighted that her favourite bakery is still going strong, more than 200 years after it was founded.

“I used to be in the Luke Evans shop every day at one time, but I don’t come in as often as I used to now, as I don’t need so much bread,” said Eileen. “Everything has suited me. The shop is always nice and clean, the girls who work there are pleasant, and I like the bread and cakes. I’m very grateful to Luke Evans Bakery for this lovely gesture.”

Luke Evans, which employs 52 people and operates 24 hours a day producing high quality bread and baked products, was founded in 1804 by Henry Evans, who named it after his brother Luke. It has been passed down seven generations and is still in the same family over 200 years later – making it one of the oldest family run bakeries in the country.

Last year its granary loaf was awarded the title of Best Wholegrain Loaf in Britain at the Farm Shop & Deli Show at Birmingham’s NEC – part of a large exhibition of trade shows aimed at the food and drink sector.

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