Island bakers provide ideal recipe for fundraising

Katherine Urquhart was overwhelmed by the support for the charity drive-thru cake sale.

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Home bakers on Islay and Jura have been working overtime to raise funds as well as cakes for Scotland’s Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA).

Hundreds answered the call for cakes from Islay-based SCAA volunteer Katherine Urquhart and her friend Gemma MacLean when they came up with the idea of a Drive-Through Cake Sale to support both SCAA and the RNLI.

‘At the start of lockdown we set up a Stay At Home Bake Off private Facebook group where we staged baking challenges and when we all went back to work last summer we kept the group live to exchange recipes and general baking chat,’ explained Katherine.

‘I had seen Drive-Through fundraisers held before and thought we should do one with our baking network while the islands are under the less-restricted Tier 3 rules.’

Katherine and Gemma had no idea their appeal would gather such momentum and when the day came to take in all donations, they were overwhelmed.

‘We couldn’t believe it,’ said Katherine. ‘I have a holiday let property next door and we literally filled it with cakes.’

The generosity of the island’s bakers allowed Katherine and her team to fill 200 cake boxes with nine delicious items in each. And when the Drive-Through Sale took place at the local high school, there was another welcome surprise for the fundraisers.

‘We had publicised the sale widely but we never expected anything like the response generated,’ said Katherine. ‘When we arrived with the van load of cake boxes there was already a queue of cars all the way across the car park and onto the road.’

Observing social distancing, mask and hygiene rules throughout, people in their cars exchanged money for cake boxes full of goodies as they passed through the selling point – raising more than£2,500 for the chosen charities.

‘We were even able to cater for specific dietary requirements and allergies, with special boxes made up for them,’ explained Katherine.

‘Not only did people buy for themselves but many were buying boxes and donating to retirement and care homes or to the elderly – it was a wonderful community support effort in every sense.

‘It was just amazing. We can’t thank everyone enough who helped in any way – baking, packing, transporting, selling, buying and delivering – it was exhausting but hugely rewarding. And special thanks to Lynn Bonar and Susan Main who braved the cold to help at the event.’

Katherine has been SCAA’s sole volunteer on Islay for the past three years and has been moved by the affection in which the charity is held by the islanders.

‘Air ambulances provide a vital lifeline for island communities,’ she said, ‘and SCAA is no stranger to Islay, providing a vital link to mainland hospital care. People here and on neighbouring Jura are always happy to support SCAA – and enjoy a bit of fun and friendship at the same time.’

The RNLI received £1,000 from the event and £1,553 went to SCAA.