A STAR of a BBC cookery programme believes Britain needs a national academy of sweets to protect the industry and teach the threatened art to a new generation.

Andy Baxendale, who worked at Stockley’s Sweets and Glisten, now known as Big Bear, in Blackburn, is warning that the nation is in danger of losing traditional confectionery skills.

The 51-year-old has 23 years’ of experience in the confectionery industry and now works as a consultant for firms across the UK.

He is one of the TV team of confectioners that has been entertaining and informing viewers of The Sweet Makers on BBC2.

Mr Baxendale said the show has highlighted the UK’s proud tradition of sweet making but without help, more and more of our sweet treats will come from Germany, the global power in the industry.

He said: “As the bigger companies have grown and consolidated a lot of sugar boilers have disappeared. It is a skill we are losing and it is a real shame.

“Automation hasn’t helped either and we now have a real shortage of confectioners in the UK.

“Germany has a national confectionery school with a training course that leads to a qualification. It prides itself on being the world’s most prestigious training establishment for the confectionery industry.

“I’d like to see something similar set up here, the creation of something like a national academy of sweets.”

Mr Baxendale said that despite those fears over lost skills. Britain’s love affair with its traditional treats such as humbugs, pear drops, aniseed balls and sherbet lemons is as strong as ever.

Mr Baxendale is a national consultant in every aspect of confectionery production, with extensive knowledge of regulation and legislation in the industry.

His career has seen him work for many of the biggest names in UK confectionery production and advise companies on everything from recipes to staff training.

He got into sweet making by accident, although his background in chemistry proved a big advantage.

Today he continues to make and create his own sweets, including Lancashire Mint Cake to rival the Kendal variety and bacon-flavoured fudge.

Mr Baxendale was recruited to the four-strong team of experts for The Sweet Makers after answering an advert.

He said: “I really enjoyed doing it and it seems to have gone down well with the viewers.”