Lyn Pankhurst

As Kent’s largest provider of adult education we not only have an extensive array of courses in many different locations but also a dedicated team of tutors who come from a wide range of backgrounds who are all dedicated to their area of interest and share their passion with others.

In our second ‘Meet the Tutor’ we ventured back to Maidstone to meet Lyn Pankhurst although you will more often than not find her at our Tonbridge centre where she teaches an array of Sugarcraft courses. These range from a City & Guilds Level 1 in Sugar Flowers to Sugar Sculpture and how to run a Cake Business from Client to Cake.

So let’s find out a little more:

Favourite technique or item to teach: Royal icing. “It’s a traditional technique but it’s amazing what you can do with it.”
Favourite type of cake: Lemon Drizzle (although when I asked Lyn she actually suffers from Coeliac disease).
Favourite hobby: Sugarcraft “I’m lucky enough to have a hobby that I can teach.” Although when I dug a little deeper Lyn admitted that she loves sewing and art too!
Favourite baker: Peggy Porschen and others who use royal icing but with a contemporary twist.

I was given a book as a Christmas present...it all went from there really.

Despite speaking to Lyn on many occasions this was actually the first time we had met in person. Lyn had already had a busy morning teaching a class in Maidstone who had been working on cake toppers that week and were all rather pleased walking out with their brand new creations. The old saying goes “a craftsman is only as good as his tools” and you could have mistaken Lyn for a carpenter as she was equipped with a large tool box. Of course this wasn’t full of screws, hammers and drill bits but full of tools to that can shell and blade alongside ball tools that help to shape leaves and petals a complete box of Sugarcraft magic.

What lead you into adult education?

Like many people who end up loving their job Lyn sort of fell in to teaching. Earlier in life Lyn had achieved all of her qualifications around teaching and Sugarcraft and was learning under a tutor herself. The tutor that Lyn was learning from also happened to be a senior lecturer at West Kent College. A position came  up at West Kent College her tutor mentioned this to Lyn and low and behold Lyn was soon offered the position and began her new role teaching at West Kent College.

How long have you been teaching?

“I started teaching in 2000 at West Kent College but as is common with Sugarcraft interest waned shortly after. I went back in 2005 for three years”. Lyn explained that quite often the art of Sugarcraft and of course baking tend to have their successful years and then interest tends to wane from time to time and then pick up again when trends change. Lyn described that in 2008 it seemed to “die a death” within that job and so she decided to join us here at Kent Adult Education in 2008.

What do you enjoy about teaching?

“Seeing the achievement, like today the class have made cake toppers and seeing the students walk away with an item is so satisfying”. Imparting your knowledge to allow other people to grow and develop is one of the most rewarding about teaching generally whether this is teaching your own child to talk or teaching a colleague a new technique. Lyn made sure to mention one of her students in particular David Lee who has attended a few courses of Lyn’s and has grown his knowledge of techniques and has now got distinctions all the way through his course. Lyn stated “it’s brilliant we can bounce ideas off of each other and share our knowledge”. Some of Lyn’s other students have gone on to open their own shops after taking part in a course such as Cupcake Avenue in Rochester.

Why do you like teaching for Kent Adult Education?

“In previous places I have worked you have been left as the only teacher until quite late at night and feel like you don’t see, speak or get support from other tutors. Not only that, but I used to teach in some very large groups and it felt like you didn’t get time to give each student your full attention.” When speaking to Lyn she explained that she likes being able to teach small groups when teaching for us and that she can help everyone in her class equally to achieve their full potential. Not only that but Lyn mentioned the facilities that she has at Tonbridge are perfect for the course giving room for the students to work and for her to be able to demonstrate techniques where everyone is able to get a good view.

It’s also worth a mention that Lyn is a Grade 1 tutor at our Tonbridge centre and is a fully qualified teacher generally not just of adult education.

Have you won any competitions or awards?

Here at KAE many of our tutors are well known in their field of work and are famous in their own right and Lyn is no exception! At the 1996 Kent Cookery Association awards Lyn won a gold in her category and then was put in to win the overall grand prix where all gold medal winners from different categories are judged together. Lyn won and became the overall winner. More recently in 2012 Lyn entered the Cake International competition at Hotel Olympia and received a bronze award for her Sugarcraft Venetian mask. In 2014 Lyn entered the Salon Culinaire International de Londres competition with a piece entitled “Kingdom of the Ice Queen” and received a Bronze award. Lyn also confessed that this is her favourite piece of work that she has produced.

Kingdom of the Ice Queen
Kingdom of the Ice Queen

What would you say to anyone who can’t decide whether to start an adult education course?

“Go for it!” When Lyn was gaining her teaching qualifications she underwent research into the benefits of adult education and feels that adult education helps so much to contribute to people’s wellbeing. “It allows people to get out and meet like-minded people and it spurs everyone on.”

Who did you want to win The Great British Bake Off this year?

When I asked this question I expected Lyn to have an out and out favourite and either be thrilled with Nadiya winning or devastated that Ian didn’t win. However Lyn confessed that she did like Flora but because she began teaching on a Wednesday night didn’t actually keep up with it after the first few weeks!

What got you into Sugarcraft?

“I was given a book as a Christmas present. I’m not one for reading but enjoyed it and then a shop opened locally and did a beginners cake class. From there I met the woman who taught me at West Kent College and it all went from there really…”

What are your top 3 tips for anyone attempting Sugarcraft at home?

  1. Practice
  2. Practice
  3. Practice

And of course do a course with Kent Adult Education.

“So many people give up when it doesn’t work first time and these things take practice.”

If you’ve been inspired by the Bake Off or are a talented home baker already who just wants to add that extra wow why not take a look at our Sugarcraft courses across the county and especially Lyn’s!

Lyn’s courses

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