A WELL-known local baker and his wife have decided to hang up their aprons.

After more than 35 years of baking bread and rolls for the customers across Ryedale, Stephen and Margaret Shaw, who own Dickens of a Deli in Malton's Market Place, have decided to retire.

Stephen said: "While we both still love the jobs we do, and the interaction with our employees and customers, we know when to call it a day. We know when to pass on the baton to someone with fresher legs and a different vision."

The couple moved to Norton in 1981, taking over the Graftons shop in Church Street.

"Margaret had given up her job teaching textiles and I had resigned from my position as bakery manager in Bristol," Stephen said.

"Over the next 20 years we developed the business and created a wholesale operation which covered most of Ryedale.

"We operated six days a week, 52 weeks a year and every night. It needed a total commitment from all our employees and ourselves to make it work.

"We have been very lucky to have such a committed work force during our whole time here and we have always treated everyone working with us as our extended family."

In 2000 they sold the bakery in Norton to Steve Kowalewicz and Sally Hudson who still run the business.

"We had done everything we wanted to do there and needed to be free from the overnight baking," Stephen said.

"It needed fresh ideas and a change and they certainly brought that with them, eventually closing the shop and moving totally to a wholesale operation. It was needed but something we had been reluctant to do."

For the past 16 years Stephen and Margaret have owned and operated the Fine Food Theatre (Dickens of a Deli) in Malton.

Stephen said: "We transformed it into a thriving business with its own beating heart, its own bakery.

"Every loaf of bread and roll made on site was sold there. Every loaf was made by myself for the customers who came through our doors.

"Together with the quality cheeses, wines and other products we have held our position as one of the premier delicatessen in Malton despite increasing competition and a changing market place. This could not have been achieved without the commitment of those working for us for which we are eternally grateful.

"Sadly, for some, we are folding up our aprons and taking home the ‘peel’. Be in no doubt that we will miss it just as much as you do. It has been our greatest pleasure to mix with employees and customers over the years.

"To be a part of a vibrant community and interacting with its citizens on a daily basis, from the mundane to the highly intellectual, has enriched our lives immensely. "

Stephen said their next challenge would be to find something meaningful to do with their spare time.

"It is a challenge we are looking forward to," he added.