Cheering up hospitalised military personnel with a slice of homemade cake was the simplest of acts for Kath Ryan to do, but what followed is quite remarkable.

Ten years on Cakes 4 Casualties is now an official charity with an international reputation.

Kath, a parishioner at St Ambrose Barlow in Hall Green, never thought a one-off encounter of taking homemade cakes to injured soldiers would lead to such an incredible experience, but it has.

And to commemorate 10 years of ‘cake ministry’ a Thanksgiving Mass has taken place today (Saturday 7 September).

Kath’s winning formula of ‘cake, love and compassion’ has had an impact on thousands of injured military personnel over the last decade, with many still keeping in touch with her to this day.

She’s been a guest at receptions at No 10 Downing Street, Buckingham Palace and the Invictus Games, as well as attending Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding last year.

“I was invited as ‘The Cake Lady’ and wore my Union Jack dress and HMS Cakes hat,” said Kath. “I was sitting outside St George’s Chapel with other charity representatives – those that are close to Prince Harry’s heart.

“I support the injured, so does he. I took a trolley full of cakes and shared with the people around me. I was surrounded by lots of injured personnel I’ve met over the years.”

Kath affectionately refers to the many she supports as ‘my boys’ but readily admits without her faith she couldn’t have achieved so much.

“I was raised a Catholic and my faith has always been a part of my life,” said Kath. “It means a lot to me and it’s personal to me. I couldn’t have done this without faith to fall back on.

“I’ve been part of the St Ambrose Barlow parish community for about 30 years and everyone has been very supportive of what I’m doing.

“Cakes 4 Casualties is such a part of my life now, I couldn’t imagine being without it.”

And the charitable work Kath does has not gone unnoticed in the wider Archdiocese of Birmingham community, as Archbishop Bernard Longley was the lead Celebrant at the Thanksgiving Mass.

“In my mind I’m still a secret,” laughs Kath, a retired nurse. “I could never have hoped for this, it’s a labour of love.

“But it’s about the injured soldiers, not about the Royals or celebrities I’ve met. My priority is to make those I visit in hospital feel valued and loved. There are lots of people who genuinely care about them, and want to wish them well. They are my focus.”

Kath’s 10-year journey started quite by chance. She’d taken cakes to her sister in Selly Oak Hospital to cheer her up.

Her sister shared them with soldiers in the smoking hut, who in turn asked for Kath to bring them some!

“I had no concept of how many soldiers were in hospital,” said Kath. “I was invited onto their ward to say hello. I was struck by their courage, humour and cheekiness in the most difficult of circumstances.

“Two weeks later I called the ward and was invited back.”

For 18 months Kath was a regular visitor to injured military personnel at Selly Oak Hospital, before services were transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

To this day she continues with weekly visits, always taking a trolley-load of homemade cakes for the patients, their family and friends, and staff.

At one point during the War in Afghanistan she was taking in 600 portions a week!

Initially Kath paid for everything herself, but as demand grew she started to deliver talks to help raise money, and Cakes 4 Casualties became an official charity in 2013.

In that same year she featured on television’s ‘Surprise, Surprise’ after one of the soldier’s had written into the programme to thank her.

“A Padre I once met called what I do ‘cake ministry’ and that’s stuck with me,” said Kath, who has also attended military pilgrimages to Lourdes.

“Making a cake is the simplest of acts. Everybody is capable of what I’ve done. It’s just a bit of cake, love and compassion.”

The Cakes 4 Casualties Thanksgiving Mass was held at Our Lady and St Rose of Lima, Weoley Castle, and attended by friends, family, supporters and fundraisers, and followed by a party.

Find out more about Cakes 4 Casualties

Kath's message of thanks at the Thanksgiving Mass

Photo Albums

Thanksgiving Mass

Cakes 4 Casualties - Thanksgiving Mass

Photos provided by Kath Ryan

Cakes 4 Casualties - Photos provided by Kath Ryan