Mary Berry was born in Bakersville, North Carolina in 1937 and is the older sister of Halle Berry and the late Chuck Berry. She first achieved recognition as a child, writing the classic American book, Berry my Heart at Wounded Knee, when she was nine and developing the first effective vaccine against berry-berry before the age of 13. After attending a summer cheese camp in 1953, she also created the first edible Camemberry cheese and on her 17th birthday, she set sail on a single-handed voyage across the Atlantic to explore her ancestral roots in Aberrystwyth.
After working as a pit pony for several years, she formed a band, Berry and the Cakemakers, and had a world-wide hit with the self-penned Berry cross the Mersey, after which she directed and starred in a modern dress-version of Shakespeare’s The Berry Wives of Windsor at the Globe theatre in London and also appeared as the wheelchair-bound detective Berry Mason for six series.
In 1972, she abandoned the limelight to train as a bricklayer specialising in listed buildings, and it was while working at Welford Park in Berkshire that the producers of a new reality TV show used her lime mortar as the filling of a citrus Victoria sponge. It proved so successful that she was asked to be a judge on what was to become The Great British Bake Off.
In 2016, she was beatified for refusing to join fellow judge, Judas Hollyweasel, on the new Channel 4 version of the programme but this was rescinded in 2017, when the Welford Park orangery she had worked on collapsed and killed 14 members of a wedding party.