cooking up a treat in elena’s memory

Elena Baltacha
Elena Baltacha

If someone says ‘Eastbourne Tennis’ to you, what pictures come into your mind?

Barbara Manning had no doubts. Blue - the colour of the sky and the colour of the sponsors Aegon’s logo, white, fluffy clouds, seagulls, figures on a tennis court.

Clever Barbara incorporated all these into her award-winning design for a spectacular birthday cake. Barbara, 60, of Lismore Road, Eastbourne, won Aegon International’s competition to design a celebration cake to mark the 40th anniversary of the prestigious tournament.

The competition details first appeared in the Eastbourne Herald’s May 16 edition, and the entries flooded in. But although all the designs were superb, Barbara’s was the icing on the cake.

She said, “I tried to incorporate what was in my mind. I can’t draw but my son, Patrick, is the artist. We thought about Eastbourne tennis. I love the Aegon shade of blue which would be perfect for the icing. There should be white clouds in a blue sky, gulls of course, the dates of the tournament, a tennis court (naturally) and hopefully some figures.

“I think it would be a nice touch to have a few players. Patrick is a bit of a tennis fanatic and between us we came up with what we hoped were some good ideas. I adore tennis but I can’t always keep up with who’s who, but Patrick helps me there.”

Barbara said she was ‘quite staggered’ to have won. She went on, “I’ve always been a tennis fan and have been going to the tournament for as long as I can remember.”

The winning design was chosen by a panel including Culinary Olympic gold medallist and award-winning sugar artist Michelle Wibowo from Lindfield.

Michelle’s stunning cake sculptures have included Andy Murray, the Queen and Beyonce in Oreos and Michelangelo paintings in marshmallows and cake sprinkles.

The Happy Birthday Eastbourne cake will be unveiled at the tournament next week (June 14-21.) Pieces will be sold during the event to raise money for the Rally for Bally charity exhibition match being held at the Aegon International on June 15.

The match is being played in memory of former British number one and Eastbourne favourite Elena Baltacha who lost her battle with liver cancer on May 4 at the age of just 30. Money raised will go the Elena Baltacha Academy of Tennis and the Royal Marsden Cancer charity.

The memory of Elena was the spur that drove Barbara to enter the competition. She said, “I am making the cake square and extra deep so they can get more slices out of it.”

She’s no stranger to the Herald. Barbara is a poet and a while ago she used to run this paper’s ‘In Verse column,’ writing poetry that reflected life experiences and clearly struck a chord with readers.

“I still hear from many of them today. I wrote about things that were in my mind and I’m so pleased that perhaps they helped someone else.”

Michelle Wibowo said, “I’m very excited to be creating this special 40th anniversary cake for the Aegon International, to celebrate four decades of tennis at Eastbourne. Barbara’s design was quite elaborate and I think best reflected the history of this prestigious tournament.

“I will be basing my final design on her idea and I plan to make a spectacular cake to befit this special occasion.

“I’ve created cakes for functions all over the world, and I’m proud to be making this cake for such an important event in my home county of Sussex.”

She has produced a number of volumes of verse – one is called Heaven is Your Heart.

If you’d like to buy one you can email her at: barbara