Disability Undressed: ‘One of my favourite memories is baking with my grandma when I was young.’

4 July 2017

Karen with her chocolate cake

For Karen Watson, baking has changed the way she views herself — not least when she was able to make her son a birthday cake for the first time.

Building confidence

Now there is nothing Karen loves more than baking a big chocolate cake.

She tells me she is a fairly new convert to baking, and grateful for the encouragement given by the staff at Kenmore — a Leonard Cheshire Disability residential service for disabled adults in West Yorkshire.

‘My discovery of baking is pretty recent and it actually took me a while to get interested in it.

‘The activities coordinator at Kenmore was keen for me to develop an interest and so encouraged me to try making my own cakes.’

The 41-year-old discovered an aptitude and has never looked back since.

‘It turned out I was quite good at it, and now I can see how important it is for your well-being to have a hobby you can take pride in.

‘It has helped to build my confidence.’

The joys of baking

Karen says her creations are proving ‘extremely popular’ with everyone at Kenmore.

‘I would like to bake more often but everyone is begging me to spare their waist lines, so I’ve limited myself to once a month or so.’

Kenmore's accessible kitchen was donated by Howdens Joinery, which means Karen, who uses a wheelchair, can reach things easily and get to everything she needs.

Karen says she has also been able to help other residents with baking.

‘Not all the residents can bake as easily as I can, so sometimes I hold the bowl for others and give them support. It is good to feel needed.

‘Helping others also stopped me focusing on how disability limited me and made me realise all the things I am able to do.’

Cakes can be good for you

Karen explains how baking can bring health benefits too.

‘I struggle with my disability every day and find baking a great way to improve the mobility in my arms.

‘For me it’s like occupational therapy in that it keeps my hand movement going.

‘At first I struggled to maintain a grip on items, but I’m building strength now.’

Lasting memories

Baking has created some unforgettable moments for Karen.

‘I have a 15-year-old son and this year was the first time I’d ever been able to bake him his birthday cake from scratch.

‘I baked him a chocolate cake. I can’t describe how it felt to give him that.’

Although she only got into baking recently, her new-found love is inspired by strong memories from childhood.

‘One of my favourite memories is baking with my grandma when I was young.

‘I don’t recall what we were baking, but I remember eating the raw cake mix straight out of the mixing bowl!’

Raising vital money for disabled people

Karen also helps to raise money for Kenmore.

Kenmore recently held a Betty’s tea room themed cake fundraiser and also took part in the annual Give & Bake event — a great way to raise money for people using our services.

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