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Husband’s tribute to wife and mum, Leigh Stewart of Jem Cupcakes Aberdeen, 50

Leigh Stewart, mum-of-two from Dyce, who ran Jem Cupcakes Aberdeen.
Leigh Stewart, mum-of-two from Dyce, who ran Jem Cupcakes Aberdeen.

Dyce mum-of-two Leigh Stewart – the creative baker behind Jem Cupcakes Aberdeen –  has died suddenly aged 50.

Now, in the wake of her death, Leigh’s husband Mike has paid tribute to his “selfless wife” who dedicated her life to being the best mother possible.

Raised in Northfield

Leigh Wallace was born in Aberdeen on July 8 1972.

Raised in Northfield by her mother, Kathleen Milne, she was a former pupil of Hazlehead Academy.

After school Aberdeen University followed but the psychiatric course Leigh had opted for wasn’t what she expected, so she moved into retail work instead.

In 1999 Leigh met Mike Stewart. The pair were both at the Star and Garter pub on Crown Street, Aberdeen to watch the Champions League final between Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

Perfect match

Smitten with each other right away, Leigh and Mike knew they wanted to be together.

“We got engaged quite quickly and married just over a year after meeting. Leigh was working for RS McColl in the town at that time.”

The couple wed on July 28, 2000 at the Inn at the Park.

Mike and his bride, Leigh Stewart on their wedding day in 2000.

Three years later their son Jordi was born and in 2004, their daughter Eve completed their family.

Speaking from their home in Dyce, Mike said his wife of more than two decades lived for her family.

“To sum Leigh up she was 100 per cent devoted to her kids and her wider family. She adored her mum and her brother Sean, and everything she did was focused on the happiness of the kids.”

Jem Cupcakes

Mike, who’s worked for Caledonian Optical for more than 30 years, believes it was this passion that drove her to be successful in her cupcake business.

“Jem Cupcakes was the carrot that kept her going. She knew every wee bit she brought in could be put towards the next family holiday, or doing something for Jordi and Eve.

“Jem is actually our initials – Jordi, Eve and Mike. Family was her everything.”

Leigh Stewart of Jem Cupcakes Aberdeen, hard at work selling her confections.

Leigh began making her now popular cupcakes when demand for her custom birthday cakes started taking up all of her time.

“She was so good, I mean awesome, at making cakes. Word of mouth spread and she was sought after. But one customer could go back and forth so many times it wasn’t worth it in the end.

The creative cupcakes created by Dyce baker Leigh Stewart of Jem Cupcakes.

“She started making the cupcakes and fudge in 2014 and never looked back. Leigh loved it. I don’t know of one negative comment over all the time. Everybody was always pleased. We even had repeat buyers year after year.”

Although Mike was the designated delivery driver, the success of Jem Cupcakes was down to Leigh’s talent and hard work.

Favourite family holidays

When she did have time for a break, holidays all over the UK and in sunnier climes were something she always looked forward to.

Salou was a family-favourite destination.

Jordi Stewart with his mum Leigh and sister Eve, on holiday.

Mike added: “We went our honeymoon to Ballater but a few months later we flew to Zante. It was the first time Leigh had ever been abroad and she loved it. When the kids came along it was something we loved to do together. We have so many happy memories.”

The couple were also avid quizzers, often beating large teams, just as a pair, in the Spider’s Web or The Green Tree’s weekly competitions.

Private cancer battle

Times hadn’t always been easy for Leigh, however. For the 50-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago.

“At the time our kids were going through exams. She didn’t want her health to affect them so she didn’t tell them she was going through chemo or that she had a mastectomy. She was so brave really. But for her it was about not worrying the kids.

Leigh Stewart shown with her children during her first diagnosis of breast cancer.

“We did let them know a while after. It’s really typical of Leigh to be thinking of everyone but herself.”

With no thought to a recurrence of the cancer the family of four booked to go to Salou in October but a persistent cough began worrying Leigh.

‘It’s come back…’

” I didn’t reckon it was anything to worry about. But the doctor sent her to hospital for a scan. It was then we found out the cancer had come back.  That was seven weeks ago.

“The doctor advised not to go on holiday so she could start treatment.

Beatles fans Leigh Stewart and her daughter Eve during a family trip to Liverpool.

“She didn’t manage to see a specialist until the start of November, and by November 7 her tummy was beginning to swell.

“I think they knew then, that was it. It was a sign her liver wasn’t working. They took her to hospital and 11 days later she died.”

Leigh passed away with Mike by her side at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary on November 18.

She hadn’t seen her mum or her children, believing she would soon be feeling better.

Leigh hoped for home

“She absolutely believed that she was going home. Not for one minute did Leigh entertain the thought that she would die. It wasn’t in her thinking at all.

“I could tell things were changing by the way nurses were talking but Leigh was so firm that she absolutely did not want her mum, brother or kids to worry about her, so she would see them when she got out.”

Eve, Jordi and Leigh Stewart on holiday together.

As the days progressed and Leigh’s condition deteriorated plans were put in place for a move to Roxburghe House.

“Sadly the nurse took one look at her and it was put on hold. She said it was best not to transfer her because of the weather but I knew it was something more.

“I had prepared the kids that it wasn’t looking good for mum but nothing prepares you really. The last thing I remember her saying to me was ‘did you get any sleep?’ She never once thought about herself.”

End of the road

With Leigh staying in hospital and a move postponed her pain medication was increased and Mike played her favourite songs.

A music lover, Leigh was looking forward to seeing the Proclaimers in December – the first real concert she would have gone to with her daughter.

“We all like the Beatles so I put on The Long and Winding Road. As it came to an end she took her last breath.”

Although Mike says his family are still “very much in shock” they’ve begun to plan a memorial for Leigh.

‘Pop the button’

“Leigh has been cremated and when we get her ashes back the plan is to have a family picnic in Hazlehead Park. They have an area where you can lay a slab to remember a loved one.

“Leigh’s favourite saying was ‘pop the button’, meaning stick the kettle on.

“That’s what we’ll write on the slab: ‘Pop the button.’

Leigh’s legacy

Since her death Leigh’s brother and sister-in-law Andrew and Anne-Marie Stewart have been selling the stock of Leigh’s confections which she wasn’t able to sell herself.

So far they have raised almost £400 for Friends of Anchor in a bid to help others facing cancer.

The fudge and tablet Leigh was known for through her Jem Cupcakes business.

Asked how he’ll remember his wife of 22 years Mike said it could only be one way.

“Her being dedicated, wholeheartedly to her kids. I can’t think of her in any other way. She loved the cupcakes, she loved our holidays, she loved music but she was devoted to her children. A brilliant, brilliant mother. I just don’t want to think about life without her.”