The cake man cometh
20 March 2012
Every morning, without fail, 88-year-old John Hollis gets up before dawn to make a large fruit cake.
And every week since 2001, whatever the weather, he has driven
toSouthendUniversityHospitalto present grateful staff with six of
the past week's masterpieces.
John, from Shoebury, is a past patient having suffered four
heart attacks and undergone a triple by-pass. But, although he has
now been discharged from the hospital, he still makes his weekly
trip, armed with bags of cakes.
He says: "They are not doctors and nurses now - they are
John honed his culinary skills when his wife Edna had a stroke
18 years ago and could no longer do the cooking. Sadly, she died in
2000 after 55 years of marriage. He started with sponge cakes for
his 13 grandchildren and 19 'adopted' grandchildren (those of his
The retired Post Office transport worker always starts his day
between 3.30am and 4.30am, setting to work immediately on the
baking. He says: "I can't vacuum at that time as it would be too
noisy, so the first thing I do is make a cake. I don't use a mixer,
just a spoon."
Once the cake is safely in the oven, he has a well-earned cup of
John's weekly shopping list includes 12 to 13 bags of dried
fruit, 30 eggs, two bags of flour and eight packs of margarine. He
bulk buys sugar.
He distributes his cakes to different departments including the
heart and chest clinic, cardiac and medical day-stay, rehab gym and
Gordon Hopkins ward where he was previously a patient.
John says: "The staff are all so friendly - although I don't
stop because I can see they are busy. I just drop the cakes
Nikki Baines, principal physiologist at the hospital, said: "He
is known by us all as 'the cake man'. We really enjoy our cake and
want to say a big 'thank you' to John for spoiling us for so many
years. We really do appreciate his generosity."