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Bake Off star Sandro Farmhouse is spreading Christmas cheer with baking and 'happy days'

Sandro Farmhouse, of Bake Off fame, talks about grief at Christmas, fleeing war when he was very young and spreading joy

Sandro Farmhouse

This is Sandro Farmhouse, looking very, very Christmassy. Image: Save the Children

Sandro Farmhouse looks like a living Christmas tree decked out in layers of tinsel, a knitted Rudolph jumper covered in pom poms and an upside down elf on his head. The Great British Bake Off star practically screams it’s the most wonderful time of the year. 

And it is all for a brilliant cause. He is posing for Save the Children’s Christmas jumper campaign, encouraging others to put on their most festive gear and donate to help the most vulnerable children across the country. But he has not always felt so merry about Christmas. 

“I lost someone during the Christmas period to suicide about four years ago,” Farmhouse said. “It changed my Christmas completely. But being part of this campaign has brought a lot of joy back to me, because I know it is helping so many children around the world.”

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This festive season is all about giving back, coming together and spreading joy for the 31-year-old, best known for reaching the Bake Off final in 2022. But Sandro Farmhouse was a community worker and nanny before he befriended Prue Leith and was snubbed of a Hollywood handshake.

“I’ve always been that way, caring about the community from a really young age,” he told The Big Issue. “I think it was going to youth centres when I was younger and being with adults who were caring for me and caring for the community. I think it built something in me to always want to help.”

After he lost his close friend to suicide, Christmas became a lonely time for Farmhouse and one associated with grief rather than joy. He knows so many people feel the same during the festive season so, alongside his work with Save the Children, he is launching his own campaign: You’re Not Alone.

Sandro Farmhouse will host baking sessions on Zoom for the five days in the run-up to Christmas, and people can join and bake alongside him. “If you’re feeling a little bit lonely this Christmas, you just jump on and bake with me. It’ll be really basic bakes. It’s more about us just being together. And it’ll definitely be baking on a budget so anyone can be involved.”

He might put out a glitzy image on Instagram with enormous cakes too lavish to eat, and he has had plenty of brushes with celebrities (Stormzy and Little Mix got their hands on his cakes even before Bake Off). But Farmhouse is adamant that baking is for everyone.

Farmhouse and his mother fled war in Angola when he was two. He remembers “seeing my mum struggle and seeing the things she had to do just so we can have a normal life – nothing extra, just a normal, decent life. 

“And to get there, it was such a struggle. I know that there’s so many people that go through that same thing. So many families flee from war and don’t know what to do after, especially with children. I can definitely relate.”

Sandro Farmhouse has committed much of his life beyond baking to giving back to his community. He founded Baking on the Spectrum during the pandemic, empowering people on the autism spectrum and their families to learn to bake with fun online lessons. 

“Baking for me was always my mum at home and that togetherness of it all,” Farmhouse said. “I always used to think of baking with my grandparents. It’s a family-bonding activity. It brings people together. That is definitely one of my aims this year with both of my campaigns – Baking on the Spectrum and You’re Not Alone – to bring people together through baking and happy happy days.”

He started out in baking when he was 21 and his father, who he had never known, died. It was a way of working through his grief and giving himself something else to focus on. And he just wants to share that joy with other people.

“When I’m baking just for baking, I absolutely just get lost in it,” Farmhouse explained. “It makes me feel like I’m alone in my own little world, which sometimes is needed. It’s like my own therapy and counselling moment with me and my plain flour and bicarbonate of soda. I’m just measuring all my worries and sorrows and my joy. It is just therapy for me. I really just love it. No matter how I feel, I tend to always just bake.”

Since launching in 2012, Christmas Jumper Day has raised more than £35 million to help transform the lives of children around the world. The money raised supports children in the UK and around the world to stay safe, healthy and learning.

To take part, get together with friends, family, colleagues or classmates, throw on your favourite sustainable jumper on 7 December, and donate £2 (or £1 for kids) to Save the Children. All funds raised will help some of the most disadvantaged children across the world, including the UK, get access to food, healthcare and education. Find out more here.

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