A BAKING competition encouraging veterans to try something new has been judged by a baker with the Mary Berry seal of approval.

Help for Heroes recovery centre Phoenix House in Catterick garrison welcomed Great British Bake Off star Sandy Docherty to give a cake decorating demonstration before judging the best cake.

Six students from a Bradford school were also invited to attend and work with the veterans to bake and decorate a cake.

Paul Metcalfe, a former RAF fire officer who served for 24 years before being medically discharged in 2004 with complex PTSD, said Help for Heroes has transformed his life.

“When I first came to Phoenix House I would barely speak, but the staff here are just amazing and have turned my life around.

“I’ve never really baked before but when I heard about the competition I wanted to get involved.

“Sandy was a great teacher. I decorated my cake to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the RAF.”

He added: “I used to be very fit but had got quite lazy, so I’m enjoying getting back in the gym at Phoenix House where I get the encouragement to keep going.

"I also get involved with lots of walking challenges, such as the Coast to Coast and I’m going to the Highland Games.”

Ms Docherty, from Bradford, was a contestant in the 2015 Bake-Off, during which she was praised by Mary Berry for her “breath-taking” biscuit Showstopper.

Her website, Baking Down Barriers, aims to get people cooking and baking regardless of background and personal circumstance, so she was keen to build a relationship with Help for Heroes.

“I’m all about getting people to have a go,” she said. “When I was asked to work with Help for Heroes, I just saw the opportunity to join the dots with children and veterans to work together. It is mutually beneficial for veterans and children."