Welwyn bakery to thank the community in its reopening after a major fire closed the business
Almost a year after a blaze gutted Katie’s Bakery in Old Welwyn, the shop is reopening with a community celebration next weekend.
Katie’s Bakery on the High Street is ready to throw open its doors once again and will treat visitors to cake, tea, and fizz on Saturday, November 18 at 9.30am.
On November 28 last year, disaster hit the family-run business with a fire that ruined their brick-built oven and damaged the roof.
The bakery, which the Dinsdale family have run since 1983, suffered damage costing in the tens of thousands during the blaze.
The cause of the fire was not discovered, but after the fire engines had gone, the entire community rallied round the business.
The family ran a pop-up stall in the street to help survive.
Now, with a brand new state-of-the-art oven and a new roof, they want to say thank you to the community that helped them.
Daughter Kirsty Wainwright, who specialises in celebration cakes, told the Welwyn Hatfield Times: “It’s been a really tough year for the family, particularly financially, but the good that’s come of it has been an absolute blessing.”
She told the paper how local businesses and St Mary’s Church stepped in in their hour of need.
“Reverend Munchin came over when I was a slobbering mess of tears, and said: ‘right Kirsty, how about you using the church kitchen?’”
Couzens bakery in Haldens immediately offered the use of their oven to the family.
“There’s quite a camaraderie between bakers,” explained Kirsty, 43.
“If either of you have run out of something, you’re on the blower to them straight away.
“In the long term of course we are offering Couzens some rental and electricity payments from the insurance claim, but that’s not the point – they said straight away ‘come and use our oven’.”
It’s the sort of support that Kirsty said you could only expect between small local businesses.
She said that Headmistress on Church Street wouldn’t even take any money for haircutting, and the Old Welwyn Florist on the High Street immediately sent a bouquet.
Devastating as it was, the fire brought more than one silver lining to the business.
“We now have modern equipment and have been able to rejig some of the space in the building.
“But also actually feeling part of the community – to what depth people have cared, it’s just been incredible.”
She said it will take a couple of years for the business to fully recover, but Kirsty is still grateful.
The family had a lucky escape from the fire, as Kirsty’s parents Katie and Dennis Dinsdale live adjacent to the bakery.
“It has been a difficult year, but actually the things that actually mattered – the things you can’t replace – are fine,” Kirsty added.
Her advice to other businesses when disaster strikes is to stay positive and accept help.
“Keep going, and keep positive, and when you’re feeling down, let other people lift you up. Because they really do.”
Katie’s will reopen on Saturday 18 Nov at 8am, and the celebration will begin at 9.30am.