A NORTH-EAST builder, who hung up his hard hat to forge a new career as baker, will be demonstrating his skills on a television show celebrating the nation’s bakeries.

Mark Hart, 38, opened Sweethart Coffee and Cake in Derwent Street, Blackhill, Consett, County Durham, after discovering a flair for cake decorating.

He will be taking part in a new series Britain’s Best Bakery on ITV Daytime, along with his brother Paul, 36, who works with him.

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Mr Hart’s new career took off after he made a cake for his son Danny, seven.

He said: “My son asked me to make him a volcano cake for this third birthday. A few people saw it and asked if I could make one for their kids.

“At first I said 'no I’m a builder I cannot be seen to making cakes'. But then I started to dabble a bit.

“I had a back operation and the doctor said to me I really needed to find another occupation.

“The area where I lived did not have a coffee shop or cafe so decided open a bakery and coffee shop.”

Mr Hart, who lives in Consett with his partner Lisa and three children Danny, eight, Jamie, seven and Grace, four, said: “To be honest it’s even harder work than being a builder.

“I’m in the shop at 3.15am making bread and finish at about 6.30pm at night, six days a week.

“We make everything ourselves – bread, pies and cakes.”

He added: “I have always enjoyed baking. As a child, when my nan baked, I would stand on a wooden stool and help her.

“And when I was a teenager I was a bit of a closet baker.”

Mr Hart was invited to take part in Britain’s Best Bakery after one of his desserts won a gold medal from the Guild of Fine Foods.

Britain’s Best Bakery, featuring expert judges Mich Turner and Peter Sidwell, will begin its second series at 4pm on Monday. The Harts will appear at 4pm on Tuesday, while the regional final will be shown on Friday.