A YOUNG baker whose friend died at a hospice has raised over £4,700 while also judging in a baking contest.

Emily Martin, 14, from Bicester, has been baking cakes in memory of her friend, Izzy, who died at Helen & Douglas House.

In preparation for National Baking Week, which takes place next month, the hospice will be holding a virtual bake-off.

Judges will include Emily and Channel 4’s Extreme Cake Makers judges Karisha Pithwa and Molly Robbins.

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Budding baker Emily will be judging junior entries and has organised several bake sales at her dad’s offices in Reading to raise over £4,700 for the hospice in recent years.

She said: “I wanted to help Helen & Douglas House because my friend was poorly with cancer and then moved there.

“I wanted to help make the children there feel more comfortable and to give them some happy times.

“It took a day to bake all the cakes for one of my bake sales and half a day to ice them all but it was absolutely worth it.”

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Nathan Best, 8, from Banbury is cared for by the hospice and one of his favourite activities is baking, which encourages children’s problem-solving and creativity.

Nathan’s mum, Jenny, said: “The care Nathan receives at Helen & Douglas House, both physically and mentally is brilliant. Nathan loves it at Helen & Douglas House.

“It gives him a break as well, and he loves all the nurses and the playroom. It lets him be him, rather than having to worry about his medical needs. He likes the spa bath, playing football, the music and baking chocolate cakes.”

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Children entering the competition will get a Little Cooks Co baking box to practice their skills, while adult entrants will get a free baking box from Britain Loves Baking.

There will be a winner from each category: junior, amateurs and professionals.

All winners will receive an exclusive baking kit, including a food mixer, while there are also prizes for the top fundraisers.

Helen Burgess, founder of Little Cooks Co, said: “We are thrilled to support Helen & Douglas House and love that it is encouraging children to develop their passion for baking.

“Little Cooks Co cooking kits are designed to be fun and healthy, and particularly this winter, home cooking with the right ingredients can be a fantastic way of helping our bodies fend off the winter bugs.”

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A national survey undertaken by Britain Loves Baking in conjunction with Helen & Douglas House Hospice revealed that 71 per cent of people are now baking more than once a week, whereas pre-lockdown only 31 per cent were doing so.

Meanwhile, 30 per cent of respondents said they are baking with partners, while 40 per cent are doing so with their children and 16 per cent with their parents.

The baking contest takes place on Sunday, October 18.

Helen & Douglas House is a home from home for terminally ill babies, children, and their families. It relies on donations, having to raise £3.6 million every year.