AN INSPIRATIONAL Flintshire woman who nearly died from Covid complications has been recognised as the region's best wedding cake designer.

Alison Bushell who runs the Cake Doctor in Shotton won Cake Designer of the Year North at the Welsh Wedding Awards. 

It is the third time she has won the award, but this year - it is very special.

In April 2020, Alison, aged 52, contracted Covid-19 - and her "life flipped overnight".

"I was rushed by paramedics to the hospital with a massive blood clot in my hepatic portal vein and mesenteric blood vessels and multiple organ failure," she said.

"I was in critical care at the Countess of Chester, being told to say goodbye to my family and friends.

"I was on death's door - but I survived, and the doctors and nurses who cared for me - I owe them my life."

She still suffers from the effects of long Covid. Her vocal chords have been damaged and there is lasting effects on her lungs. She has Covid-induced Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Coeliac disease.

"I used to be such an active person, but now I can barely walk 200 yards," Alison said.

The majority of her cakes are now 'coeliac friendly' (gluten free). 

"One single crumb or the flour cloud when I turn the mixer on is enough to make me very ill for days," Alison said.

"It is with these statistics in mind I took the plunge and changed my business. I was very worried about my business but I am pleased to say my customer response has been very positive and wedding orders for this niche market are starting to roll in."

The Leader:

Alison's achievement is all the more incredible as she is a full-time carer for her disabled son, Ben. 

She said: "Ben suffers from chronic pain syndrome caused by an arachnoid cyst growing in his brain. He is in constant pain, particularly in his legs and back and suffers from non-epileptic seizures.

"He finds it very difficult to walk at times as his legs lock and he cannot straighten them. We have recently moved into an adapted bungalow which has significantly improved Ben’s quality of life and, if I’m honest, mine too."

Alison is a former science teacher and has a PhD in Clinical Biochemistry - hence the Cake Doctor name. She started making cakes as a hobby. 


She said: "I have always had a love of baking and find it very stress relieving. Since Ben found it very difficult to sleep we would be up most of the night so at two o’clock in the morning I would be baking cakes and biscuits which I would take into work the following morning. 

"This resulted in a friend and colleague asking me to make her wedding cake. I reluctantly agreed, then panicked and enrolled on a sugarcraft course at night school at Deeside College to learn how to do it properly. I discovered I had a natural aptitude for sugarcraft and I simply fell in love with it.

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"Eventually Ben’s condition became so severe that I made the difficult financial decision to give up teaching Science and became his full time carer. I continued to bake from home for friends and family but word of mouth brought more and more people asking for cakes."

She founded the Cake Doctor in 2009 and has become one of the country's best cake decorators. 

The Leader:

Alison recently attended the Welsh Wedding Awards ceremony in Cardiff, and admits she never expected to win.

She said: "Having been ill for so long and having to dramatically reduce my workload, I was thrilled to be a finalist in the Welsh Wedding Awards.

"I was up against very stiff competition so to be regional winner for the third time was quite a shock and very humbling. I am truly very grateful to my loyal customers, friends and family. Without their support I would not be here and I certainly wouldn't still have my business."