BRILLIANT bakers from Helensburgh and beyond gathered at the popular Craigard Tearoom recently to show off their creative cooking skills.

The Great Craigard Bake-Off, held on Sunday, November 11 at the shop in Sinclair Street, brought together some of the brightest young bakers from the area, as well as some experienced eaters, for the competition which was judged by top names in the food industry.

Award-winning cake artist Anna Dillon, master chocolatier Shona Sutherland and master craftsman Sean McVey joined Craigard owner Melanie Andrews in testing the talent on the day - and the event went better than they could have imagined.

Melanie said: “It was fab. It was extremely well attended, better than I expected.

“We had to cut the number of finalists down to 50 so that we could fit them all in.

“Some of the entries were world class. The younger generation in particular blew me away, some of their work was fantastic.”

Melanie, who was awarded an MBE in 2017 for her services to baking and to the community in Helensburgh, said she was especially pleased to see young people taking part.

She said: “The looks on their faces were amazing and that age group impressed me the most.

“I like to see the next generation come up through the ranks. There is so much emphasis nowadays on the academic side of things and going to university, but what about the creative ones? They are just as important.

“We gave them a chance and it was nice to see them enjoying it and maybe going on to make a career out of it.”

Melanie also founded the Scottish Baking Awards in 2004 and she was delighted with the response to the Craigard event in her hometown.

She added: “I’ve been held to ransom, they were asking when the next event is, so it will be the same again next year definitely.

“One of our judges actually said that he wants one of the competitors to come and work with him and that’s great feedback for them to hear. It motivates them and that’s what it’s all about.

“It’s a good feeling when you take something out of the oven and it’s actually edible.”