Bakery business of blind Fareham veteran nominated for top award

Penny Melville-Brown
Penny Melville-Brown
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A BLIND veteran has got through to the semi-finals of a competition that could see her win $25,000 and take her business worldwide.

Penny Melville-Brown from Fareham was initially invited to compete for the inaugural Holman Prize as a result of the profile she has built for herself across the internet and social media through her online baking project, Baking Blind.

If successful, Penny intends to take the project global. First, however, she’ll be required to draw up a detailed plan of exactly how she’d intend to use the money if she were to win.

She said: ‘I’m really thrilled to have been selected to be one of the 50 semi-finalists drawn from all corners of the world. Now I have just four weeks to put together the final plan and budget – and make contact with other cooks willing to show me their own special recipes. I’ve already got possible opportunities in China and Australia but need more.’

She added: ‘My bags aren’t packed yet but it is exciting to dream about all the possibilities, the people I could meet and the dishes we could cook together.’

Penny’s own military background comes from her 22 years’ service in the Women’s Royal Naval Service and Royal Navy.

She had a successful career in the Senior Service, working for Nato, taking the lead for the University Royal Naval Units and eventually becoming the first woman to hold the post of naval barrister.

When the WRNS was merged into the navy, Penny was appointed Lieutenant Commander. But her sight soon worsened and she was medically discharged in 1999 as a Commander.

She went on to set up Disability Dynamics, a specialist group focused on helping disabled people back to work, eventually being awarded an OBE for her services to the disabled.

She hopes that in launching Baking Blind, she’ll be able to give others a different perspective on sight loss.

She added: ‘I believe that cooking is for everyone, regardless of whether they are blind or not. I believe that there’s an enormous amount of good that can be done in creating a community of cooks that help us all look beyond blindness.’

The finalists will be revealed later this year.