The icing on the cake!

I was born in Poole and amongst my ancestors there was a baker, a dressmaker and several teachers, so maybe it was pre-ordained that I should become a Home Economics teacher.

My chosen college had been evacuated to Bournemouth with various hotels in Boscombe occupied as halls of residence and many lectures were held at the Lansdowne College and the Pokesdown Polytechnic. Life in my first year ’44-45’ was somewhat hectic, but by September ’45 we had moved back to London.

My first 8 years teaching were in Hertfordshire and Hampshire, then I returned to Poole and spent the next 29 years at Parkstone Grammar School, where I myself had been a pupil.

Having opted to specialise in needlework and dressmaking that became my preference throughout my teaching years and it soon became clear that my cookery skills should become more  of a hobby.

Over the last 70 years I have had the pleasure of making many cakes for all kinds of celebration, weddings, birthdays, christenings, anniversaries, retirements, the list is endless. At school I made a model of the new building when we moved from Ashley Cross to Sopers Lane and I used to make cakes for my colleagues as they retired. As far as possible these were linked to the subjects they had taught so there was The Globe Theatre, a Grand Piano and a Greenhouse to name but a few.

On my early cakes I used royal icing which was a very time consuming process but for years now I have been converted to the fondant variety. I used to pipe all the little roses, I must have made thousands, but while I was attending a U3A Art class, I was conscious  of a Sugarcraft Class the other side of the partition in our Sharland Hall, so transferred and gained a very different skill.

In 1955 my mother and I moved from Poole to Broadstone and as the new probationer minister for this church was lodging with us we could hardly continue attending what is now the Spire where my mother’s forebears had worshipped since the nineteenth century.

Since those days I have had the privilege of holding many positions within the church and circuit. Besides having been every sort of steward I was the Church Treasurer for a while and for 30 years Covenant and Gift Aid secretary (Maths always was my favourite subject at school).

In 2003 when this present building was first opened I was offered and accepted the job of organising the coffee lounge. I soon realised that we needed something edible other than biscuits to sell with the coffee, so introduced and made flapjack and became known as the flapjack lady.

There have also been occasions in the church when sewing was required and consequently I have made two sets of collection bags (one set back in 1976) the grand piano cover, the  runner for the communion table and taken a hand in some of the banners displayed on the sanctuary wall as the church year progresses. Having assisted in the making of a cassock for our minister in the early 1980’s I eventually made 5 more. Apart from one black one, they were all made in grey school skirt material which I used to obtain from a mill in Leeds for parents who wished to save money by making parts of school uniform, but that is another story as are the 2 years I spent teaching in the Treloar Hospital school; my cookery class for the blind in the late 1950’s, the dressing of school plays including Shakespeare and Gilbert and Sullivan, and my experiences in the Girl Guide movement.

With advancing years and deteriorating eyesight I find I can sing with feeling Jenny Hewer’s hymn “Father I place into your hands the things I cannot do”, and I have recently looked up and read with more understanding than in my schooldays John Milton’s sonnet on his blindness.

I believe that all gifts are God given and it is our duty where possible to use them to His glory. Mine have given me so much pleasure and I am gratified to know that I have passed them on especially within my family and that I am not forgotten by the many ladies, many retired, who stop me and remind me that I taught them.

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