Ribble Valley teen runs her own Victorian tearooms!

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MANAGING your own tea-rooms is a “piece of cake” as far as one Ribble Valley teenager is concerned.

Heather Mashiter (16) has a penchant for cooking and baking and is stepping back in time to play the key role of Mrs Dixon, wife of the founder James Dixon, when Blackburn Orphanage is open to the public on Heritage Open Day, Sunday, September 11th.

The enthusiastic baker will oversee “Mrs Dixon’s Tea Rooms” providing refreshments for visitors to the Wilpshire mansion. With help from mum Beverley, Heather is busy mixing, beating, preparing and cooking ahead of the big day.

Heather explained: “I’d been thinking about charity work for some time. I saw the banner asking for volunteers, called in and offered to help. When it was suggested I could organise the tea rooms on Heritage Open Day, I was so excited.

“We are making cakes, carrot cakes, Victorian sponges, lemon tray bakes, biscuits, all kinds of treats. Exchange Coffee and Cheesie Tchaikovsky from Clitheroe are donating cakes and Simply Vintage.com are providing traditional crockery, it’s brilliant! Even my dad’s coming to help. It’s going to be hard work, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

It’s been a busy summer for Heather and the icing on the cake for the former Ribblesdale High School pupil, was collecting three A*, seven As and a B in her GCSE results. In between baking cakes for Mrs Dixon’s Tea Rooms, she’s preparing to embark on A-level studies at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Sixth Form.

Blackburn Orphanage was founded in 1886 by Scotsman James Dixon and provided accommodation and care for thousands of children from across the region.

Harriet Roberts, CANW fund-raising manager, is delighted with Heather’s commitment. She said: “Heather’s skills and enthusiasm are really impressive. I’ve been overwhelmed by the response of volunteers, not just for Heritage Open Day, but also with our lottery-funded project – we are digitising and preserving James Dixon’s hand-written records of the orphans who lived here. “It’s an amazing legacy and Open Day visitors learn about this. Open Day is a really important event in raising awareness of our history and the work we do today as we lost £1.4m. in recent cuts.”

On the day, apart from Mrs Dixon’s Tea Rooms and Heather’s cakes, there will be Victorian crafts, games and dressing up for the children and the opportunity to purchase a facsimile copy of “Rags and Rubies”, a monthly magazine originally produced by founder James Dixon, which provides a fascinating insight into the history of Blackburn in the late nineteenth century.

Entry to the event, which is on September 11th, is free of charge.