DEDICATED bakers, who start kneading dough at 3am each morning, are celebrating running their family business for 35 years.

David Smith, who owns De’aths Bakery, in High Street, Manningtree, has been baking extra cakes and pastries this week as a way of expressing his gratitude towards the community’s support over the decades.

The 57-year-old said: “We are putting all sorts of goodies out for our customers as part of our celebration and to say thank you for all the support we have received - so I hope they help themselves.

“We would like to thank people in the Manningtree area because they have been fantastic and we have received so many compliments.”

But business has not always been booming, as Mr Smith has fought many battles to keep the bakery up to scratch.

He said he uses local ingredients and the same traditional methods, with similar recipes from when the bakery first opened about 130 years ago, but his family has introduced new bakes as residents’ desires and diets have changed over the years.

Mr Smith added: “Baking is one of the old arts which didn’t change over the years, so we bake in an old-fashioned way and everything is handmade.

“Our speciality is the jam doughnut, but we make cakes, pastries, sausage rolls, sandwiches and serve tea, coffee and cream tea.

“But with many trades closing in the High Street it has been a constant battle, so in the past two years we have invested heavily in the shop in order to bring it to a high standard and make it comfortable and a better experience for our customers.”

The family starts baking at the crack of dawn to make sure the bread is coming hot out of the oven as the shop opens at 7.30am.

Mr Smith said staff need to go to bed at 7pm every night.

“This means we don’t have a good social life, but since I’ve been helping in my father’s bakery, I just got used to it,” he added.

“I guess you just need to get used to this way of life.”

The bakery is run by David and Tanya Smith, but their whole family gets involved with it, including their 25-year-old Christopher Smith, who helps with the bread and pastries and their 28-year-old daughter Laura Jane Smith helps too.

Before the Smith family owned the bakery, Mr Claud De’ath ran the establishment for 32 years.

Mr Wally Peachy ran it for 25 years prior to Mr De’ath.

Before Mr Peachy, Mr Forsdyke ran it for more than 40 years.