Heanor baker is hoping for sweet charity success

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Kind-hearted baker Jenny Clay has risen to the occasion – she has vowed to donate proceeds of her sweet treats to local charities in need.

Jenny, who runs Jen’s Cakes from her Heanor home, has been baking for many years, but has decided to turn her favourite hobby into a fundraising bid.

The 51-year-old first started baking when her only daughter was young, but it took a backseat as she raised her child and worked full-time.

But after being struck with a long-term illness and unable to work, Jenny found herself at a loss of what to do.

She said: “I started making cakes when my girl was young as money was tight being a single parent. I didn’t have a lot of spare cash lying around, but she would always be very happy with a homemade cake.

“I enjoyed making them, but it was mainly the happiness it brought to my daughter, I didn’t take it very seriously as a hobby.

“But after working for social services for many years I became ill – not well enough to work and had to leave my job.

“Around four years ago, with more time on my hands and being basically housebound, I found myself itching to bake again.

“I made a cake for my daughter’s 21st birthday party and people loved it. It spiralled again from there really as people kept asking me to bake cakes for their special occasions. Word of mouth is a very powerful thing, and it still surprises me how word can spread.

“It really boosted my confidence and got me back to doing something I loved. It was even better when my granddaughter was born three years ago, now I get to share it with her too – and she’s already started helping me make them.

“My dream would be to run my own cake shop, but unfortunately that isn’t reachable at the moment. So I decided to use my skills for something useful – to help raise cash for charity.

“It seemed like a good idea to bake for charity as it is obviously something I really enjoy but am not able to make a living from. Doing this, I can pick and choose how many cakes I make depending on how well I feel.

“Cake making is an escape for me and I feel like I’m giving a bit back to society and helping others. It is important for me to feel useful in some capacity and part of the community.”

Jenny is now focusing on raising as much cash as possible for charities including Rethink Mental Illness.

Rethink is a mental health charity founded in 1972 by relatives of people diagnosed with schizophrenia. Today, the charity directly support almost 60,000 people every year to get through crises, to live independently and to realise they are not alone.

“Rethink is a cause close to my heart and I try and help out where I can. I am trying to raise enough money for a heavy duty pool table. A new one would cost around £700, so I’m hoping to raise £350 which would recondition the original one.

“I am nearly halfway there so, it just shows that every little helps. I make an average of five cakes a week – some for family and friends – and all cakes are priced at the cost of materials plus the profit which is donated.

“In the past I’ve also donated art and craft materials and many cakes. I also donate towards helping dogs in Romania as I am a big animal lover.

“Last year I also donated a three-tier cake to the Alziemher’s Society to be raffled at a fun day.

“Making cakes helps me tremendously as it gives me a purpose, and if I can help someone else in the process then it is a win-win situation.”

To find out more information search ‘Jen’s Cakes’ on Facebook.