SOME people fall into their careers, but Leslie Wilkin is not one of them.

Before opening his self-titled bakery, ‘Leslie’s’, on Church Street in Enniskillen town centre, he had been working across the county in many different bakeries, honing his craft.

Beginning at the Manor House, Leslie moved onwards to the Lough Erne in Kesh, near where he grew up.

Then he took a break from baking for a few years, becoming involved with lorry driving, working in Kent’s Plastics, and then following a rite of passage for many Fermanagh men when he went to work in the Ballycassidy sawmill.

Leslie returned to baking when he worked at Belmore Street with Victor Johnston before deciding to work by himself out in Fivemiletown.

After some time, he then ventured to Church Street, where the familiar smell of freshly-baked bread still wafts through the air after 38 years at the site.

Despite running other businesses, Leslie still comes to his bakery at five o’clock in the morning, six days a week, where he and a dedicated team continue to bake the goods that many people across Enniskillen and, indeed, across the whole county have come to love.

Many children over the years have delighted to see the baker who sits in the front window of the bakery, who is also baking every day and occasionally dressed up.

Leslie revealed: “My little man came here six months after I did, so he has been here a very long time, too!”

Reflecting on his success, the hard-working baker said: “I had to work hard in my business and get up every morning; I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth.”

Leslie has always loved baking – he bakes a wide variety of items; treacle bread, crusty white loaf, and scones are just of his products.

He revealed that he still uses all his own recipes from when he began his career as a baker, adding: “90 per cent of all the products made in the shop is sold in the shop.

“I couldn’t tell you how many loaves of bread I make a day; some days it’s hard to know how much to make.”

Leslie enjoys the bakery when it’s Spring and Summer and there is more of a buzz in the town centre when more people are around, but he admits that 2020 has been one of the strangest years on record.

“Out of all of the years, this Covid period has been the most challenging time of them all. There has never been a year like it.

“We had to close for ten weeks, which we’ve never done in our lives.”

Leslie is currently a one-generation baker, a self-described “one man band”.

When asked about plans to slow down and retire, Leslie revealed he was looking to the future, and has a new town centre venture to add to his portfolio of businesses.