A BAKING supremo who has added the sweetest touch to many Hartlepool and East Durham newlyweds’ big days is set to retire.
Irene Grove, of Celebration Cakes, is hanging up her apron after 10 years of creating some of the most spectacular wedding cakes.
The shop is up for sale but Irene, who has made cakes for stars including Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney, will be trading until Christmas.
She hopes the next occupant of the shop will follow her lead and use it for a similar trade, maybe someone who is cake-decorating at home but is wanting to expand.
Irene said there had been a few people interested in the shop so far.
Her eye-catching designs over the years have included the Empire State Building, the Taj Mahal, Caesar’s Palace, Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia Hotel in Barcelona, Las Vegas’s Venetian Hotel and landmarks closer to home, including Lumley Castle and Auckland Castle.
Irene has always aimed to raise the bar with each cake she has made.
She has even made cakes for celebrity fans including the late Hollywood legend Mickey Rooney, ex-Eastenders star John Partridge and designer Wayne Hemingway.
The grandmother-of-three said: “We have tried to stretch the boundaries of cake design to make things different and beautiful and just make the bride’s day as best as it possibly could be.”
Irene, who had worked from her husband’s garage for four years before opening the premises, in the former Co-op building in Cotsford Lane, Horden, said she had mixed emotions about retiring. “I go from one extreme to the other,” she said. “I’m really happy to be going home and do my gardening and all the things I want to do.
“But then I’m really sad, it’s like a bit of a bereavement.
“I’ve built something up from nothing through all those years, and it’s all my customers I will miss.”
She said she had built some special relationships up with brides and grooms over the years, from the taster and consultation, to them returning after the wedding and telling Irene all about their big day, to returning for anniversary cakes, christening cakes and even birthday cakes for their children.
Irene’s daughters, Deborah Shiel, 29, and Angela Grove, 32, have helped Irene to run the business.
But they will now concentrate on running their own company, The Sugarcraft Sisters, which sells cake supplies from a base at Plants ‘r’ Ross in Easington Village.
Irene, married to Geoff and also mum to Helen Grove, 42, said she is still booked for some weddings coming up next year, but the shop will close at Christmas.
Irene, who has even made divorce cakes, said she is sure there was still further boundaries to be tested in cake design, but it was time to rest.
“You can always do better, I enjoy a challenge, especially the buildings,” said Irene, who is originally from Peterlee but lives in Wheatley Hill.
“You can never put a limit on what you can do. “I will miss the challenge.
“I am going to have to do something crafty at home.”