Leeds business bake-off raises hundreds for hungry schoolchildren

Christine Talbot and Siobhan Ross

Bakers from the Leeds business community came together on Monday 12 February to compete in a Great British Bake-Off style event, raising money for a local community foundation. 

The event, organised and hosted by local technology start-up LightStart, saw entrants bake cakes and loaves of bread which were judged by an expert panel in aid of Leeds Community Foundation’s Holiday Hunger campaign.

The Great Business Bake Off consisted of two categories, a technical challenge in which contestants had to bake a white plaited loaf and a showstopper category which challenged participants to showcase their best cake efforts.

Awards were on offer for the best creation in each of the categories as well as a tongue in cheek ‘showflopper’ award for the biggest flop on the day. 

The event was attended by more than 70 people from across the local business community and attendees donated to raise a total amount of £350 for the Holiday Hunger Leeds Campaign.

The Holiday Hunger Leeds campaign, run by Leeds Community Foundation in partnership with Leeds City Council, is designed to give grants to local projects that run activities during the school holidays to ensure vulnerable children have access to fun activities and hot and healthy meals. 

More than 33,000 children currently live in poverty and one third of parents are skipping a meal so that their children can eat during the school holidays.

The event saw 34 entries from bakers across the Leeds business community and in true bake-off style was judged by an expert panel including local ITV news presenter Christine Talbot, Isla Bentley the Leeds Children mayor, Prett Tejura from the Leeds Cookery School and Rosie Wilkinson from the Leeds Bread Co-op. 

The showstopper award went to Siobhan Ross, a local accountant at BHP Chartered Accountants, whose vanilla bean and chocolate cake with caramel buttercream impressed the judges due to its complexity, taste and Valentine themed decoration. Lucille Winburn from WGN Accounts won the Technical Challenge with her excellently baked white plaited loaf. 

The light-hearted ‘showflopper’ award was presented to Andy Willers whose cheesecake failed to set properly and struggled to compete against some of the other efforts on show. 

Siobhan Ross, winner of the showstopper award, said: “I’m delighted to have won the showstopper award, I do make cakes as a hobby for friends and family, but it was nice to win against some strong opposition. I didn’t expect to win when I’d decided to enter but I didn’t need an excuse to bake a cake for a worthwhile cause.”

The event was organised by Leeds-based digital design house, LightStart. LightStart was founded by local businessmen Simon Edwards and Dan Akers in 2016. The business works with people and businesses who have ideas for new digital products, such as mobile apps or web apps, and takes the idea through development to a successful launch.

Simon Edwards of LightStart said: “We were really pleased to be able to use our network and our experience of running events for the Leeds business community to help raise awareness of this important campaign. Our existing network is always very supportive of LightStart events, but we were really overwhelmed by the effort the bakers went to and the amazing turnout on the day.”

Christine Talbot, ITV Calendar presenter and Holiday Hunger Leeds ambassador, said: “The bake-off provided a unique opportunity for the businesses in Leeds to unite together for an extremely significant campaign that is having a huge impact on children across the city of Leeds.” 


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