A very special cake for the Bee Lady’s 95th Birthday!


Welcome to a little ‘behind the scenes’ insight into my cake donation for Jean (The Bee Lady) Bishop’s 95th Birthday Party…….

So, back in March this year, whilst I was away at Cake International in Birmingham, my brother heard an appeal on a local radio station. BBC Radio Humberside were throwing a party for local fundraiser Jean Bishop aka The Bee Lady, who was celebrating her 95th birthday in May and they were looking for local people/businesses to donate their services for this good cause.

For those of you who don’t know her, Jean is a local fundraiser for Age Concern. She is a truly inspirational character and local celebrity/hero!! For more information, please visit the Age UK page, link below:

  Jean Bishop – The Bee Lady

Of course, as soon as my brother told me, I jumped at the chance to be involved in celebrating this major local event. It is great to have the opportunity to give something back to those who truly deserve it, so I contacted the presenters Carl and Lizzie straight away, to offer my services.

The week before the event, local television station, BBC Look North, asked if they could film me making a start on the cake. Aargh!! I don’t even like having my photograph taken, never mind being filmed!! I foolishly agreed and they came to shoot a quick video of me making flowers etc. They even filmed my sketched plans for the cake. Now, anyone who knows me, knows full well that I am totally unskilled in drawing. A 5 year old could draw better than me (and they regularly do at my day job as a nursery nurse in a local primary school).

Anyway, filming over, I continued with my preparations….flowers, bees and more bees….. I came up with the bright idea of making 95 bees (1 for each year of Jean’s life), luckily my daughter Rachel stepped in to help by hand painting all of the black stripes (I knew her GCSE Art would come in handy one day!!)……


Next, I baked (& baked) lots of cakes, to make up the 3 tiers of sponge (2 tiers of vanilla and 1 tier of lemon).

Filling, layering and covering the 3 tiers was a massive job, particularly as the bottom tier was a deep 3 layered cake! The top tier was carved to look like a beehive, whilst the middle tier needed to be airbrushed with ‘bee stripes’.

But, at last, it was time to start carefully staking the cake!

Finishing touches were made (attaching the edible prints to the bottom tier, depicting moments in Jean’s life like her ‘community chest card’ in the Hull edition of Monopoly, the local telephone box painted with yellow and black stripes in her honour and more besides…and finding places for all of the 95 handmade bees! I never want to see another bee again, well at least not for a while).


Once the cake was complete, there was just the little matter of an edible, replica bee lady to make for the top! I hand modelled the topper with modelling paste, dressed in her iconic bee outfit, complete with bee hat, antennae and collecting tin.

It was a very nervous drive to The Guildhall in Hull the night before the party to deliver the cake. Luckily it arrived in one piece…well almost….one of the bees tried to escape but was quickly put back in place!!


I was honoured to have been invited to attend Jean’s party, so with new dresses and shoes for the occasion, Rachel and I had a great time. It was such a privilege to be there, amongst Jean’s friends, family and supporters. Lots of other local companies and individuals had donated too, from buffet food and balloons to bunting and choirs, pianists etc… not to mention the hundreds of cards sent to wish Jean a very happy birthday!


I hope Jean liked the cake, she definitely seemed very happy when she was cutting it!


It was a truly memorable day for a truly memorable lady!

Happy 95th Birthday Jean Bishop, Hull’s very own Bee Lady xxx




My path to Gold at Cake International March 2017

My Gold award winning entry at Cake International, Spring 2017


This is the journey that took me to my first Gold Award at Cake International!

So, it all began with a visit to a local plumbers merchant and DIY store for pipes, fittings and MDF to make the internal structure and base. I really don’t know what the man at the plumbers merchants thought when I explained what I needed everything for!

Everything securely fixed into place!

With the internal support structure in place, it was time to get cracking, making lots and lots and lots of Rice Krispie Treats (RKT). I chose this medium, rather than cake, so that I could work on the piece over a number of weeks, and RKT are not as heavy as cake, so would be easier to transport to the competition.


With the RKT in place on the structure, I used life size photos of the ‘White Walker King’ to mould and carve the RKT to the correct shape and size proportions, then covered with yummy chocolate ganache!! (Remembering to make holes for the eyes too).

Once the foundations were in place, it was time to start creating the features……


The facial features were modelled using modelling chocolate, each join and seam was carefully blended together. This process took 2-3 days to complete!


I took a lot of time creating the eyes as these are so important to bringing out that menacing look! They were hand painted and finished with several coats of edible glaze to give a good shine.

The white modelling chocolate was hand dusted with edible dusts in varying shades of black, grey, silver and blue.

Once the head was complete, it was time to start on the body armour! This was certainly time consuming, not to mention a little tedious at times…..

Each small, thin strip of modelling chocolate was hand cut to the same size and attached by hand, one at a time, to the model, taking care to ensure they were aligned correctly with each other! It sent my eyes a little boggled at times!!


With the hundreds and hundreds of blocks finally in position, covering the front and back of the armour, it was time to start on the shoulder plates.

These were cut to size from modelling chocolate, supported in place with kitchen paper until dry. Then, more little blocks to cut by hand and attached to the shoulder plates…….

Once all of the blocks were in place (phew!!), it was time to hand dust each block, as well as in-between each block, to create depth and shadows, with a mixture of dark grey and black edible dusts.

I also created a ‘badge’ for the front of the armour (hand cut and dusted again in same shades), which I attached in position.

The dagger was made with modelling paste, painted with edible glaze for shine and then strips of sugar paste were twisted to look like rope for the handle.

I wrote the inscription on wafer paper with edible ink, airbrushed with blue iridescent colour.

The board was covered with dried flakes of sugar paste, mixed with edible glitter and lustre dusts to look like ice.

I finished off by using pearl and iridescent airbrush colours to highlight and give a sheen to the head and ice.

After 6 weeks of hard work, my piece was finally finished, ready to pack up and transport very carefully to Birmingham.



On the morning of the show, I loaded the car (including a fixing tool kit…just in case!) and set off around 4am for the 2-1/2 hour drive to the NEC in Birmingham.

Once there, my White Walker King was placed on the competition tables (luckily he had survived the journey without any damage) to await the judging.

I was lucky enough to see my piece being judged….the judges are very, very thorough. He was inspected from every angle and they did get very up close and personal with him, it was scary to watch!

Being Judged!

After a sleepless Friday night, it was time to get the results at the show on Saturday.  I approached the table very nervously, what if they didn’t like him, what if he had been declared ‘not to schedule’ (if any of the rules had not been followed properly)….I felt sick, I didn’t dare to look…. But what was that, a card next to him….I had been awarded something at least!

I could not believe my eyes when I saw the ‘Gold Award’ card…..I cried (happy tears!) and quickly telephone/text/messaged everyone with the good news.


It was an amazing weekend, which has opened up new opportunities for me, like writing tutorials and articles for Cake International Magazine.

Never did I think in my wildest dreams that I would be an award winning cake artist, not to mention published in one of my favourite cake magazines!

Life is an amazing journey, and I am enjoying every minute of my ‘Cake Adventure’.

Thanks for reading