Family pay tribute to Burgh St Peter charity baker who died unexpectedly
PUBLISHED: 17:58 17 March 2016 | UPDATED: 17:58 17 March 2016
A fundraiser who dedicated her retirement to raising thousands of pounds for Help for Heroes has died.
Pat Brown of Burgh St Peter unexpectedly passed away on March 9 aged 68, and was well-known in the village and further afield for the cakes she made for charity.
She and husband David raised over £45,000 selling their cakes and chutney on stalls in Beccles over the past seven years, as well as hosting Armed Forces Day events at their home.
They were inspired to start their fundraising in 2009 after seeing injured soldiers returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan with their daughter Sally Williams, who has been in the army for 21 years.
Mr Brown said: “We went to a homecoming and it was chucking it down with rain. And Pat was just listening to the servicemen who had been injured.
“There was one young lad who hadn’t been fitted with prosthetic legs yet, he was just walking on stumps but he was standing with the other servicemen and women and he was so proud.
“Pat said to me ‘we’ve got nothing to complain about in life’ and we started raising money.”
Mrs Brown started off making cakes for what she thought would be a one-off event.
Staff sergeant Williams, 40, said: “Mum and Dad wanted to help, so they had a stall selling a few cakes and chutneys in the driveway on Armed Forces Day and they made £326, and thought it was amazing.
“It was meant to be a one-off but after they counted the money they said they would hold an event next year.”
People kept asking the couple how they could get their hands on more of the chutney, which led to them having a stall at the former Rainbow store in Beccles. And after Mrs Brown’s cakes also became a firm favourite, the couple started holding their stalls in Beccles town centre, regularly raising over £600 a time.
Mr Brown said: “She was at the forefront of pushing everything we did, and she never took any praise. She just thought what she did was what everybody else did.
“She would never complain once about all the baking, I’ve seen our oven with 12 cakes in at once. And she was always so proud when she counted up the takings.”
SSgt Williams said that while Help for Heroes had taken up most of her mother’s time for the past six or seven years, she had always done plenty for the local church and other good causes too.
Mrs Brown trained as a hairdresser and wigmaker, and spent around 20 years working as a receptionist at Beccles Sports Centre, while also raising her son and daughter.
“She’s always been there,” said SSgt Williams. “She never once told me not to join the Army or not to go to Afghanistan. She let us follow our dreams and supported us.”
Mr Brown said he would eventually re-start the cake and chutney stalls in Beccles, which have been cancelled until further notice, but that his wife would be ‘a hard act to follow’.
“She was driven in her work she did for Help for Heroes,” he said. “It was her way of showing what she felt the troops deserved.
“And she would do anything for anyone.”
Mrs Brown died at Papworth Hospital in Cambridge with her family by her side after she fell ill at home a few days previously.
She leaves behind her husband David, daughter Sally, son Alister and one grandson, Kyle.
Everyone is welcome at a ‘coming home’ celebration for Mrs Brown, which will be at All Saint’s Church in Wheatacre at 10.45am on March 23, followed by a gathering at the Wine Vaults in Beccles.
Donations to Papworth Hospital would be appreciated in lieu of flowers and can be made via www.justgiving.com/AlisterAndSally