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Bake off’s true queen – Baking competition and sale started 30 years ago raises £36,000

Pic by Luke Johnston / Caters News

A grandmother can lay claim to being the real queen of Bake Off – having started a baking competition back in 1985.

Elizabeth Wallace has been baking for charity month for the past 30 years and has raised an impressive £36,000 in the process.

In the process, she has baked well over 32,000 cookies, cakes and pies using tonnes of flour.

From the beginning she helped organise a sponge baking competition with the proceeds going help impoverished people around the world.

Her message for devising the popular TV format almost 30 years before its creation is “eat your heart out Mary Berry”.

Elizabeth, from Woking, Surrey, said: “I can cook and I like to bake, and that’s how it all began.

“The sponge baking competition seemed to be a great way to get people motivated and it worked. People like competitions. We first held one in 1986.

Pic by Luke Johnston / Caters News

“The Bake Off hadn’t started then – Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, eat your hearts out!

“Although we weren’t doing anything near as fancy. People didn’t need showstoppers and did not win anything spectacular. It was just the pleasure of knowing they had won.

“I’m getting better at sponges but brownies and cookies are what I’m best at.

“I know I have baked a huge amount over the years, but I don’t feel like I’ve done anything special. It’s just that all those £1 cakes and cookies really do add up.

“We always used to position the table where people had to walk past it to get out. That definitely helped.”

Elizabeth, who lives with her husband of 45 years Kevin, began baking for charity in memory of her mother when she passed away.

Her mum Helen, originally from Charleston, South Carolina, was a keen baker of large quantities of cookies and brownies and Elizabeth wanted to carry on her legacy.

One of her friends recommended she take up baking for charity as a way to do it.

Pic by Luke Johnston / Caters News

In 1986 she started a baking goodies to sell at her local church to raise money for CAFOD, the …

When she and her husband moved from … to Woking, they carried the tradition with them to St Dunstan’s Church.

After plenty of success at her first few attempts, she found assistants to help her out.

One assistant, Molly, is now aged 90 and is joining Elizabeth in finally making way for others to take over.

Elizabeth said: “One of the reasons I kept going was that it made other people join in, and there have been some amazing examples of generosity.

“There was one lady who died a couple of years ago who gave £20 every month.

“Molly is lovely and has been a massive help but when you’re 90 baking anything can be a real struggle.”

Pic by Luke Johnston / Caters News 

She never missed a single Sunday of the bake sale, always making sure her holidays and other events never clashed with the fundraising.

She would often spend hours in the kitchen making sure she was ready for the bake sale at the end of the week.

Elizabeth said: “You don’t stop. Although I am not running it anymore I am determined to keep baking for the sale for as long as I can.

“The world is still in need and we can’t just be reactive to big crises. We have to take the initiative too.

“I’m not a very tidy baker and things tend to get a bit messy. It seems crazy the amount I was baking – all the cakes and cookies and chocolate brownies – but you have to give people what they want.

“Sometimes when I was baking at home I would make an extra 20 cookies or so and set them aside for the sale. Other times I would spend hours specifically baking for it.

“The hardest thing is to keep doing it, but what keeps you going is knowing you’re helping. That’s the best motivation.”

Do you, or someone you know, have a similar story to tell? Get in touch today to earn £££ and raise awareness.


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