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:
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