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Gay Bake Off winner says soggy pastry wasn’t a worry after saving the lives of mothers and babies in Malawi

Lily Wakefield October 30, 2019
Bake Off Winner David worked with nurses and midwives in Malawi

Great British Bake Off Winner David worked with nurses and midwives in Malawi for two years. (UK Aid)

The winner of the Great British Bake Off 2019 has said his experience training nurses in Malawi meant he could handle anything the competition threw at him.

David Atherton previously travelled to Malawi for two years with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) as part of his work as a health advisor training nurses there.

In a video for UK Aid he explained that the project he worked on brought expectant mothers to health facilities so that they could give birth safely, as opposed to in their own villages.

He worked with Malawian nurses and midwives to train them, improve their skills and help them provide a better quality of care.

He said: “I wasn’t going to get stressed by a cake not rising or my pastry being a bit soggy because I’d seen other people getting through so much in life and being so positive, so I was determined to do the same.

“I was lucky enough to see first hand things getting better through UK Aid. It really is incredible how so little can go so far.”

He said bringing women to health facilities to give birth was essential because “too often people try to give birth in the villages and if there’s any kind of complications, the journey [to a health facility] is so long that any critical situation would quickly become a crisis”.

According to the Healthy Newborn Network, 58 per cent of neonatal deaths in Malawi in 2017 were caused by preterm birth complications, or complications during childbirth.

He said his volunteer placement with VSO was “so worthwhile”. He added: “To be able to see babies being born that otherwise wouldn’t have survived was just incredible.”

Atherton, a self-described “underdog”, managed to out-bake Alice Fevronia and Steph Blackwell in the final on Tuesday, October 29, on Channel 4.

Judge Prue Leith said: “It was really just a question of the tortoise catching the hare.”

More: David Atherton, great british bake off, Malawi, UK Aid, VSO

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