No let up for baking boom in the South West, as region’s lockdown kitchen craze continues

The South West’s newfound love for baking looks here to stay, with new data from Alzheimer’s Society1, ahead of the charity’s Cupcake Day on 17 June, revealing that 28% of the region’s population have picked up baking as a new skill in the past 12 months.

A survey by the charity shows that people in the South West have left no speckled banana unbaked in the last 12 months, with almost a third (32%) of the region’s population also using baking as a way to connect with others during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In the past year, a survey funded thanks to the players of People’s Postcode Lottery showed that on average, people in the South West spent two hours baking in April alone, with the average baker in the region baking six batches of cupcakes and five cakes in the last 12 months.

Around a fifth (20%) of local respondents baked a cake for the first time since the start of the pandemic in March 2020 and nearly a third (31%) said they have used baking as part of their home-schooling routine.

Celebrity Chef and Alzheimer’s Society supporter Rosemary Shrager said: “Baking can do so much good for the soul, and the stomach, it’s wonderful to know so many of us have turned this past year into something positive by dusting off our aprons and whipping out our whisks. I’m looking forward to seeing a feast-worthy spread of lovely new recipes this Alzheimer’s Society Cupcake Day, and it couldn’t be for a better cause. Coronavirus has hit people with dementia the hardest – anything the people of the South West can do to help raise some badly-needed funds will make a difference.”

With over a third (34%) of respondents agreeing that their baking skills have significantly improved over the past year and nearly half (49%) agreeing to continue baking as much as they do now in the future, Alzheimer’s Society is calling on first time give-it-a-goers and proud professionals to keep the baking craze alive by taking part in Cupcake Day, to raise funds for people affected by dementia, hit hardest by coronavirus.

People can take part in several ways, from organising a delivery ‘drop off’ of goodies to their neighbours, hosting a driveway bake sale in their area or having a socially distanced cupcake party in their garden with friends and family.

Marion Child, Alzheimer’s Society Head of Region for the South West said: “We must never forget the grave impact the pandemic has had on people affected by dementia.

“Over a quarter of all coronavirus deaths in the UK have been people living with dementia, and thousands have faced an increase in symptoms because of social isolation and it has been a heart-breaking time for families, who have either been cut off from loved ones or faced a lack of any break from caring duties.

“But as we finally see a way through, and with so many people developing a love for baking over the past year, we are calling on bakers in the South West to unite and put their newly found baking skills to good use. By getting involved in Alzheimer’s Society Cupcake Day, you will be helping us reach even more people who need our help through our vital support and information services.”

36-year-old Jen Scaybrook lives in Torquay, Devon. Jen is a support worker and helps vulnerable adults to live independently. Last year Jen and her daughters, Layla, 9, and Amelia, 7, raised more than £1,000 for Alzheimer’s Society baking cakes and delivering them to family and friends. They made boxes of four different cakes – and baked 200 cakes in one day.

Jen said: “My husband’s aunt, Audrey, lives nearby and we are very close to her. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in August 2019.

“Our daughters know she has dementia. She loves seeing them. As children they are resilient and relaxed around her – they don’t have the hang-ups adults can have.

“We have been taking Audrey food during lockdown and there’s a local park where we can meet when it’s been allowed. We took cakes in lockdown, but we were making far too many cakes for just Audrey. We kept baking and it spiralled into a fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society’s Cupcake Day.

“We’re doing Cupcake Day again this year. Last year we did it all in a day, which was a lot, but it was all worth it. We found that it was rewarding for the kids – they were old enough to understand what they were raising money for, and they found it rewarding that they were helping. We were getting people re-ordering cakes in the following days and we were so close to £1,000 that we kept baking.

“Victoria sponge is a favourite in our house. It’s my favourite to make, and my husband thinks it’s the best ever. Audrey’s favourite is lemon cupcakes. I hope lots of other people will get involved in Cupcake Day for this very worthwhile cause.”

The money raised from Cupcake Day will go towards Alzheimer’s Society’s vital support services, which are also funded thanks to the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. The charity’s services, like its Dementia Connect support line have been used over five million times since March 2020 and have been a lifeline to thousands.