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April 2016: Bake Off

For our April meeting, we were delighted to welcome Alexandra Marie Driver, better known to all as Sandy Docherty, who in 2015 was a contestant on the BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’. 

Sandy launched into an animated and entertaining spiel about the audition process for the series and how a household favourite is filmed. Her appearance on the programme was after a second attempt to bake on the show, being selected from over 16,000 applicants. Sandy said she ‘felt like a disciple’ when she learnt she was one of the 12 chosen to showcase her work for Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood in the GBBO tent. Due to contractual obligations, Sandy was not at liberty to divulge all the secrets of the tent, but she revealed that there was ‘definitely a cross-section of mentalities’ amongst her fellow competitors, some with a definite ‘game plan’ on the agenda. She spoke of her friendship with eventual winner Nahdia, how helpful Mel and Sue were during the process, and how she used her complimentary therapy techniques on Paul’s ailing back as she bowed out of the show in episode 4 after her over ambitious three-tiered cheesecake failed to make the grade.

Sandy ‘bakes from the heart’, and cited her female relatives, Delia Smith and the ‘Bero’ book as her baking inspirations. We were inspired not only by Sandy’s passion for baking, but her wish for us all to share our talents and skills across the generations. Our president, Lucy, remarked that in many respects our own Spa Sweethearts philosophy is similar to that of Sandy’s: friendship and learning new skills. 

After the address, our very own ‘Spa Sweethearts does GBBO’ was held, and members were invited to submit entries in the following categories: cakes; small bakes and biscuits; savoury. After much tasting, and not a ‘soggy bottom’ in sight, a secret ballot was held, and a winner in each section was chosen. Sandy also judged the appetising entries and awarded her own personal ‘star baker’ in each section. And the winners were, in the members vote: Rustic White Chocolate and Pistachio Cake by Rachel; Raspberry and Apple Crumble Traybake by Annette and, Watercress and Wensleydale Quiche, also by Annette. Sandy’s ‘Star bakers’ went again to Rachel and Annette respectively, and also Emma for her chocolate brownies. Well done ladies!

More information about Sandy and her life in baking can be found at

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