Mary Berry: I wish my parents and brothers could have shared in my damehood joy

Mary Berry: I wish my parents and brothers could have shared in my damehood joy

Mary Berry has said she is “overwhelmed to receive the very great honour” of being made a Dame in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The former Great British Bake Off judge has earned the status of national treasure over a six-decade career.

She said: “I am absolutely overwhelmed to receive this very great honour. For most of my life I have been lucky enough to follow my passion to teach cookery through books and the media.

“I just wish my parents and brothers were here to share my joy, as my only achievement at school was just one O-level in cookery of course!

Berry is looking forward to celebrating with her family (PA)

“However, I am sure they are looking down and smiling. I will celebrate with my husband and family very soon.”

The food writer and broadcaster enchanted a new generation of viewers after starring in wildly popular BBC culinary show Bake Off from its launch in 2010.

Berry, 85, often played the good cop to fellow judge Paul Hollywood’s bad cop, and delighted fans with cheeky innuendos.

She even became an unlikely fashion icon during her time on the show.

In 2016 she decided to depart The Great British Bake Off out of “loyalty” to the BBC after the show switched to Channel 4.

Hollywood stuck with the Channel 4 version.

Berry has since starred as a judge on BBC One’s Britain’s Best Home Cook and fronted shows including Classic Mary Berry and Mary Berry’s Simple Comforts.

Born in Bath, Somerset, in 1935, Berry contracted polio when she was 13 and was left with a “funny left hand” and a curved spine, which she later said “doesn’t bother me at all”.

She did not shine academically in school but excelled in cooking and studied at Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Paris.

In the 1960s Berry became the cookery editor of Housewife magazine, followed by Ideal Home magazine, before landing her first TV role with Afternoon Plus in the early 1970s.

She continued through the 1980s writing books and filming BBC TV series from her home in Buckinghamshire.

Berry has published more than 75 cook books over her career and her awards include a 2009 lifetime achievement gong from the Guild Of Food Writers and a 2017 National Television Award for her work on Bake Off.

Berry was made a CBE in 2012 for services to culinary arts and once described being invited to Buckingham Palace for a meeting with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh as her “greatest memory”.

Her life has been marred by tragedy. Berry’s son William died aged 19 in a car crash in 1989. She is a patron of Child Bereavement UK.

Berry has been married to Paul Hunnings since 1966 and the couple have two surviving children – a son and a daughter.

Reporting by Press Association