If you don’t live, work or exercise anywhere in Point, then you’ve missed a genuine lockdown treat – and it’s too late to do anything about it now!
Because yesterday (Saturday 27 June) was the last day that 80-year-old Betty Grigor placed a sturdy plastic box at her front gate in Broker, full of freshly-baked lockdown treats for anyone to take.
Betty has been baking every day since lockdown began, creating treat-sized packages for posties, home carers, neighbours and people taking exercise around her village.
A soldier in the Salvation Army, Betty had been missing her role as a baker for the Stornoway Corp’s regular lunches since she had to start self-isolating the week before lockdown – and she was left with a whole batch of marmalade which she had already made to raise funds for the Salvation Army.
“I just put the jars outside the gate with a wee notice that said ‘help yourself’,” said Betty. “First one went, the next day a couple more and then, before I knew it, they’d all gone, so I thought I might start baking.
“I’m so used to doing things that I knew I had to continue. When I get up, the first thing I do is to switch on the oven and I get everything baked and packaged up ready for the day ahead. Then I go to bed every night thinking about what I’ll bake tomorrow.”
For twelve weeks individual cakes, scones, pancakes and traybakes have flowed out of Betty’s door. Packaged up in bags of two, the cakes are then popped into the box that’s become known locally as ‘Betty’s bun box’.
Dog-walkers, horse-riders and delivery drivers are among those who have spotted the tempting offer, while some neighbours on their daily walk or run have even tailored their route to make sure they pass her gate.
“I’ve only missed two days when it was really windy,” said Betty. “The cakes stay dry in the box and it’s easy enough for anyone to lift a bag out, with no need to touch anything.”
But as lockdown is lifted and the shops start to open again, Betty feels it’s time to stop. She finished with a flourish on Saturday, filling her box of cakes as usual and putting out a donations tin for the Salvation Army, which collected £243.30 in the course of the day.
Not just donations, but messages of gratitude and affection came from the many people who have enjoyed Betty’s baking, with tributes like: “Betty's cakes have supported us through lockdown. We will miss them” and “What a lovely gesture from a lovely lady – thank you for your kindness, Betty.”
Betty’s daughter Linda Macdonald had her own tribute for the many people who’ve supported her mum. She said: “My mum has been humbled and deeply touched by everyone’s generosity and overwhelmed by the cards and good wishes she’s received.
“I’m sure Betty’s lockdown bun box will be remembered fondly as a small bit of humanity in some strange and trying times for us all. As a family we would like to thank the community for your support.”
Betty herself said: “I know I shouldn’t say it, when you think of how difficult Coronavirus has been for everybody, but it has given me time to enjoy my life a wee bit and it’s been no hardship to me, because I’ve been busy.”
Picture shows Betty at the gate of her home in Broker on Saturday morning, with orange buns and pancakes on offer.