Friends raise dough for local baker in need

John Reid in action at RedBeard Historic Bakery at Trentham. Photo: Sandy Scheltema

A crowdfunding campaign has raised more than $50,000 for a local family in crisis.
Castlemaine resident and founder of Trentham’s famous RedBeard Historic Bakery John Reid was diagnosed with brain cancer in February, placing enormous stress on his wife Thaïs Sansom and their three sons. A friend’s initiative and community generosity has brought some welcome relief.
Local teacher Joseph Bromley has worked with Ms Sansom for more than a decade. Close friends, they teach performing arts in schools and have collaborated in many performances.
Mr Bromley set up an online GoFundMe campaign, ‘Some bread for Thaïs and John’, with the goal of raising $25,000.
He said the communities of Mount Alexander Shire, Hepburn and the Macedon Ranges had been rocked by the news of John’s illness and rallied to show their support for the family.
“Thaïs and John have been immensely generous to our community over many years,” Mr Bromley said.
“I knew their friends and well-wishers would want to give back with some practical support at this difficult time. I’m delighted by the response, which smashed my goal and shows how beloved this family is.”
Mr Reid co-founded RedBeard with his brother in 2005 to bake authentic sourdough breads and pastries in a historic wood-fired oven in the heart of Trentham.
The business grew rapidly and now employs more than 20 locals. A regional icon and major destination, RedBeard has won several awards for sustainability, a National Baking Industry Award for Excellence and an RACV Tourism Award.
“I’m passionate about ethical and sustainable production of health-giving food,” Mr Reid said.
“We choose RedBeard’s suppliers based on their commitment to environmental protection, Indigenous rights, regenerative and ethical farming, and organic food production,” he said.
Ms Sansom said John had undergone brain surgery and was recovering at home before starting further treatment to extend his life.
“We were surprised by Joseph’s fundraiser and overwhelmed by the community’s response. Having the financial stress lifted means we can focus on spending precious time with family and friends and enjoy sharing happy memories, being in our garden and, of course, eating good food,” she said.
“The kind and caring messages people have sent give us emotional strength, which is beyond value. John and I want everyone to know that we feel loved and supported and we are incredibly grateful.
“Meanwhile, we have plans in place to ensure that RedBeard remains in operation and our super staff have been assured that their jobs will continue.
“We greatly appreciate our community’s support of RedBeard over the past 16 years. Every supporter and customer is helping to secure John’s wonderful legacy.”
Readers can support the fundraiser via Go Fund Me.

Thais Sansom and John Reid at home in Castlemaine.

John and Thaïs with sons Ben, Jim and Will Reid at RedBeard Historic Bakery.