Helping others, one ginger nut biscuit at a time

Decrease font size
Increase font size
Print this page
Email to friend
Share to Facebook
Share to Twitter
Home > Media > News > Helping others, one ginger nut biscuit at a time
Helping others, one ginger nut biscuit at a time

One Risdon Vale woman has turned a talent for baking into a powerful fundraising effort.

Eileen Sherrin, 96, has spent more than 30 years baking for charity, selling her homemade wares through cake stalls at her local parish.

Over that time, she has raised an estimated $50,000.

Mrs Sherrin’s baking efforts began when she and some friends decided to bake to raise money alongside the bingo that was being run to fund the Risdon Vale Catholic Church, the Church of the Resurrection.

When the bingo stopped, she kept baking.

When the Church of the Resurrection closed, she opened a stall at the Church of the Incarnation in Lindisfarne.

“I used old fashioned recipes … as long as people ate them, I’d make them,” Mrs Sherrin said.

Drop biscuits, ANZACs, ginger nuts, peanut biscuits and kiss biscuits were just some of her extensive repertoire with fresh fruit, marmalades, and her own flowers sometimes added to the stall.

Raising around $2000 a year, Mrs Sherrin supported four overseas charitable efforts, including a palliative care hospital in Pakistan and an initiative to rescue and educate children in India.

Her dedication to baking has been a case of turning a suffering into an incredible good.

At 18, Mrs Sherrin was involved in a car accident which resulted in hearing loss. As her hearing deteriorated further, she decided to fill in the silent hours by baking.

“About seven years ago my ears packed it in and I’ve lived a silent life. So I said to my kids, ‘That’s it; I’m going to stay inside and cook.’ So I’d cook five hours a day. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I’d make cakes and biscuits, and Thursday I’d ice and pack, and Friday I’d get them ready to go away,” she said.

Mrs Sherrin was still baking until a fall in July last year led to a decision to move into residential care.

A Catholic for all of her life, Mrs Sherrin has made prayer part of her daily routine, including the rosary, Mass readings and receiving Holy Communion on Fridays, along with the Stations of the Cross.

She says she’s no saint (“I lose my temper same as everybody else”) but that God answers her prayers.
Long-time friend Jenny Whitty used to collect Mrs Sherrin’s baking on Saturday’s and sell it before the vigil Mass at Lindisfarne each week.

According to Mrs Whitty, the cake stall had the effect of increasing the number of people who arrived early to Mass.

“If they particularly wanted a style of biscuit, they had to get there early to get them,” she said.

Mrs Whitty says that both Mrs Sherrin and her biscuits are sadly missed in the parish.

“People relied on them; when she couldn’t do it anymore, people were devastated,” she said.

“I used to love the drop biscuits, I used to buy two packets of them every weekend.”

Mrs Whitty describes her friend as a ‘remarkable woman’.

“She’s a real model of what we should like to be.”