From Dubai to Dewlay

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Cheese firm Dewlay regularly hits the headlines, but one senior employee used to write the headlines! Ex-journalist Laura Barnes outlined her adventures locally and overseas to Anthony Coppin.

I was born and raised in Inglewhite in our family home where my mother was also brought up from the age of six. My dad is from Quernmore.

Living in Inglewhite I went to Claughton RC Primary. It’s a small country school and I still see many people I went to school with which is great.

Me and my brother Sam used to cycle to school everyday and then when I went to Lancaster Girls’ Grammar school I cycled to the bus stop each day - I suppose that’s why I cycle to work now! It isn’t so much a hobby but it’s great to unwind and relax.

My favourite lessons were History, English Lit and Media Studies.

The teachers were inspiring and encouraged us every day.

We also had a school song which I still remember word for word.

At school I achieved good grades, but my main forte was in groups like Young Enterprise and Duke of Edinburgh.

I was also fortunate to go on amazing school trips to Belgium, Italy and Austria.

I always had a part time job. The first job was at the age of 11 as a pot washer in a small restaurant.

I got £1.25 an hour.

I’ve always been brought up to work, and think it’s important for teenagers today to have a job to understand the value of money.

After finishing A-levels I went to the University of Sheffield where I studied Journalism Studies.

I worked hard and played hard, something that seems easier to do when you are younger!

After leaving university I looked at working in the UK but there were very few jobs in journalism.

I then read about a job in Dubai as assistant editor for two transport magazines.

I’d never been to the Middle East but I had always been fascinated by Middle Eastern culture so applied.

I was offered the job and moved out in two weeks.

I didn’t know anyone and actually knew very little about Dubai as a place so it was a complete revelation for me.

The first few months were hard but I soon made some great friends out there.

When I became editor of Caterer Middle East, a food and beverage magazine, as well as writing car reviews for Arabian Business, I was ecstatic.

It was a lot of hard work and late nights, the perks did make up for it though!

Living in Dubai was such a great experience.

I lived in an amazing villa, and as I wrote about restaurants I regularly ate out at the best restaurants in five star hotels in Dubai.

I also attended Moet et Chandon launch events, presented awards at the Time Out Restaurant Awards and interviewed winemakers from Chateau Cheval Blanc, the president of Veuve Clicquot and interviewed chefs including Gordon Ramsay, Michel Roux and Gary Rhodes.

I was able to travel across the region, and stayed in a private villa at the Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain during the Grand Prix practice sessions and also stayed in the Royal Suite of the Marriot with its own private lift!

I was also fortunate enough to go to Beirut several times.

I went not long after Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed in a bomb blast, so one hotel had been abandoned.

It was strange to see all the windows shattered and just the curtains flapping in the wind.

A lot of the other buildings were riddled with bullet holes.

I lived in Dubai for three years before returning home.

It was a hard decision to move back but I come from a close family unit so I suppose it was inevitable.

I moved back to Inglewhite and the family house.

It’s a great house with so much character inside and out.

There are some amazing views looking out to the coast on one side and to the fells on the other.

My family is also keen on gardening so I’ve gradually been finding my green fingers.

There’s nothing nicer on a warm night than wandering around the garden with the waft of honeysuckle in the air.

Moving back to the UK was a shock for me as Dubai can be a fairytale place to live.

I also wanted to work in this area but there was not a great journalism job pool.

My mum works as accounts manager at Dewlay so I started helping out in the office.

After a month they offered me the role of technical manager, looking after the company’s food safety systems.

I’ve been there three years now.

Over the last three years there has been a lot of growth and development at Dewlay.

We built a dedicated building for the storage and maturation of Garstang Blue, we launched a number of new products in the Lancashire range and in technical I am continually developing and improving our systems.

Our green credentials really are what set us apart from others.

The turbine is the jewel in our green crown but we also take part in the cycle to work scheme, which I am part of, and we are also going to launch the Go Green Fund.

Since working at Dewlay I have learnt so much about cheese and its process.

Apart from the standard courses I am also studying for a foundation degree in food chain technology.

I’ve just completed my first year and have another three ahead of me.

It is a lot of work but it’s worth it.

Travelling and seeing the world is in my blood, I think that comes from when my dad’s family moved to Australia when he was younger, however they came back as one of his sisters didn’t go.

I think that is the same with me.

I lived away but ultimately the sea calls you home.

I truly believe though that if you can, you should visit as many countries as possible instead of returning year after year to the same place… the world is fascinating and should be explored!

I’m also a huge bookworm and took part in the first World Book Night giveaway.

This is something that stems from my school days.

I read a cross section of genres and each book transports me to another world which I become fully absorbed and lost in.

Classic reads for me would have to be Elizabeth Gaskell, and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.

I am verging on the obsessive with Lord of the Rings; it is fascinating how one person can create a whole other world and languages. He is a genius and everyone should read his work.

I’m also a lover of fine wines and regularly take trips to St Emilion to add vintage wines to my cellar.

The wine shop D Byrne & Co in Clitheroe is a great shop with some superb wines. I could spend hours roaming around their wine cellars.

Ultimately though, I’m a big believer in living life to the full and trying new things every month.

This doesn’t mean being reckless, it’s about being able to have great stories and memories to tell and pass on, which will hopefully inspire others.

Next week: The Mustard Seed.