The icing on the big cake
Su Carroll talks to two enterprising women about their next big project... and it’s all about baking.
If you met Mel and Kim, they would strike you as good friends – the kind of people you would strike up a cheery conversation with at the school gate.
Indeed, the Exeter mums met when they were at school and have remained friends for over 25 years. But today they are also colleagues with a thriving events business and in the middle of their most ambitious project to date.
I suspect even Kim Vernon and Mel Edwards can't quite believe their luck in being able to announce this week that Paul Hollywood – heartthrob to many women for his role as judge in The Great British Bake Off – has agreed to take part in The BIG Cake Show that the two women are holding for the first time at Exeter Westpoint next March. I say they can't quite believe their luck, but a lot of hard work has gone into setting this show up – most of it done in the converted garage, now office, at Mel's home.
Paul is the latest guest announced for the show. His Great British Bake Off colleague, the legendary Mary Berry, has agreed to open the show on Friday, March 28, and MasterChef's Greg Wallace will be there on the Saturday.
Mary and Paul will each give two cooking demonstrations and Greg will be doing what he does best – judging. Cooking competitions, yet to be announced, will culminate in finals at Westpoint.
Oh, and you can also see, in the course of the three-day event, the first Bake Off winner, Edd Kimber, This Morning favourites Phil Vickery and Stacie Stewart and Westcountry Master Chef Peter Gorton.
There will be cookery demonstrations for children, lots of stalls and events and – to accommodate the small producers – a Westcountry Larder of local produce.
For Mel and Kim, who set up MK Events to run small craft fairs and steadily built the business up, The BIG Cake Show is an exciting but demanding event.
They each have two children and Kim is part-way through a psychology degree. With similar backgrounds in admin, they don't divide the work up so much as pitch in and just do it.
"We started out with small events and it became a success," says dark-haired Kim. "We just really enjoy what we're doing. It's just so nice to be able to do different things and meet different people."
"We've made a lot of friends for life," adds red-head Mel. "We don't pretend to be anything that we're not. We don't go in with the hard sell. This is who we are."
Part of their success is that, as mums, they know what they would want to have at an event.
Their first event was a Christmas fair for families.
"When you've got young children you know what you're looking for. So we did what parents would have wanted."
Both fans of The Great British Bake Off, Mel and Kim spotted a gap in the market and thought about creating an event that would make the most of the enthusiasm for home baking.
"We knew it would be big because we were holding it at Westpoint," says Kim. "And we wanted it to have the 'wow' factor."
There's still a lot to do, including selling the remaining sponsorship opportunities; but what are they most looking forward to?
Mel answers for both of them: "Mary Berry standing on stage. If it does work, we hope The BIG Cake Show will be our future for many years to come."
Tickets are on sale now online at thebigcakeshow.com. See next Saturday's WMN for a 10% discount ticket offer.