The Great British Bake Off winner David Atherton has said his experience of “life or death” situations helped him keep a cool head in the tent.
David claimed victory in a tearful final where he kept his nerve to deliver superb souffles and an impressive showstopper.
He works as a health adviser for Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), and has helped impoverished communities and suffered malaria in the line of duty.
The Bake Off champion has cited his experiences as the reason he kept calm on the show.
Despite his triumph in the Channel 4 series, he considers his health work as his life’s mission.
He said: “I’ve been in life or death situations when I’ve been treating children who are seriously ill with malaria.
“I was able to keep things in perspective and kept reminding myself that even if my pastry was soggy, or my cake didn’t rise properly, I’ve coped with much more serious situations.”
David worked as a nurse trainer in Malawi, where he became friends with his neighbour and learned to grow crops, and developed a taste for Malawian cuisine.
Cooking exotic dishes without the luxury of common utensils helped give him an edge.
He said: “You’ve got no oven, no fancy equipment, none of the things you might be used to in the UK. Being put in a completely different environment like that really develops your resilience.”
David was inspired to join VSO by his supportive mother, who herself worked abroad in Papua New Guinea.
The Bake Off winner added: “Being part of Great British Bake Off has been an amazing experience and it’s changed my life in so many ways.
“But my lifetime’s achievement is when I see how my Malawian team is continuing to save the lives of mums and babies. Baking brings so much pleasure, but it’s short-lived. I know that the impact of my Malawian experience will go on for generations.”
VSO is an independent international development organisation working to tackle poverty.