|Elizabeth Wallace with some cakes at St Dunstan's, Woking|
Elizabeth’s baking odyssey began back in 1986. Her mother had died two years previously and the terrible Ethiopian famine of 1984 was still fresh in her mind. One of Elizabeth’s friend’s suggested that she did something to help both her recover from the loss of her mother, and those in need overseas. “I can cook and I like to bake, so that’s how it all began!”
Elizabeth set up a cake stall after mass once a month, at the parish of Our Lady of Christ, Kingfield, Surrey which she and her husband of 45 years, Kevin, were members of. As well as selling cakes contributed by parishioners, they held sponge competitions and Elizabeth stayed motivated by the enthusiasm of other parishioners.
“The Bake Off hadn’t even started then. Mary Berry eat your heart out! One of the reasons I kept going was that it made other people join in, and there have been some amazing examples of generosity. There was one lady who died a couple of years ago who donated £20 every month!”
When they moved to St. Dunstan’s, Woking, Surrey Elizabeth kept on baking; her commitment to standing in solidarity with those in the developing world has never failed.
“You don’t stop,” Elizabeth said. “The world is still in need and we can’t just be reactive to big crises, we have to take the initiative too. And you can’t just walk away, because you feel you’re betraying the people you’re supporting. These aren’t just people on pieces of paper, these are people who you’re praying for.”
After almost thirty years as the organiser of the CAFOD cake stall, Mary handed over the running to two other St Dunstan’s parishioners, Ruth Whiddett and Lin Mason, in 2014. Elizabeth described the choice to stand down as a hard decision to make, but one which felt right. Inspired by her American mother’s recipes, Elizabeth still bakes delights such as cookies every month for the stall, adding to the mounds of freshly baked bread, homegrown fruit and delicious homemade cakes.
“The girls took over and run the stall with their children and it’s going really well. It’s gone from strength to strength and they make wonderful cupcakes! It’s very popular and we regularly run out of what we’re selling!”
Elizabeth has now been baking cakes every month for CAFOD for 31 years. Since its inception in 1986 it has raised an estimated £35,000 – a phenomenal sum.
Elizabeth is modest about the amount that she and the others who helped at the stall have made. “We’re just normal people and that’s our strength,” she said.
The money raised by Elizabeth and all those involved in the stall helps those living in extreme poverty to reach their full potential, regardless of religion or culture, by equipping them with the skills and opportunities to live with dignity, support their families and give something back to their communities.
CAFOD representative in Woking, Martin Brown, said:
“Elizabeth’s dedication to CAFOD is inspirational. Her commitment to helping those in need is remarkable, especially as it so much more than skin deep – she truly cares about the people she is helping as individuals, not just statistics. We are so thankful to her and all those who have been involved in the cake stall over the years, including the new organisers Ruth, Lin and Agata.”