Debbie Harwood did not intend to enter the national cake competition to celebrate 20 years of the Lake District World of Beatrix Potter tourist attraction.
But at the last minute she stayed up until 3am at her Rogate home, sketching some ideas and posted them off on Saturday morning, hoping to make the closing date the following Monday.
So she was over the moon when a week later she discovered she had won and was invited on a three-day holiday to the Lakes with husband Max, to see her cake made and unveiled by comedian Victoria Wood.
“I was so surprised I was actually speechless,” said Debbie, 44, “and that’s very unusual for me. My entry was such a last-minute thing.
“I had a dog-eared old Beatrix Potter book of Peter Rabbit because I used to read them all as a child and it gave me my inspiration. I designed the cake as an open book with a 3D image of Peter Rabbit coming out of it.”
Debbie’s passion for cake decoration started about ten years ago: “It was a hobby and started when I made a Christmas cake for my husband and it just developed from there.
“I started a degree in metal work and jewellery, but I gave it up because I missed my cake work so much.”
Since then she has won gold, silver and bronze awards for her cakes and is now on the brink of setting up her own business.
“Up to now I have just done it for friends and family and by word of mouth. I only do novelty cakes because I like to make people laugh.”
Judging for the Beatrix Potter cake competition was carried out by a panel of judges including Marc Guibert, head chef at the Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel, and John Youdell, catering manager at the World of Beatrix Potter attraction in Windermere.
The four-star Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel, which played host to the three-day stay by Debbie and her husband, was where Beatrix Potter illustrated two of her famous children’s stories, Timmy Tiptoes and Pigling Bland.
Expert cake-makers Beaulea’s Cake Studio, in Bowness, made the winning cake design a reality and invited Debbie along to help their top cake creators Lea Rogers and Mary Tkachuk put the finishing touches to the special birthday cake.
“We had a very pleasant time,” said Debbie. “Meeting Victoria Wood was great.”
Debbie is currently hard at work producing a special cake to raffle and raise money for Rogate at the village fete and flower show this weekend.