When secondary school teacher Briony Williams was offered a place in the Great British Bake Off tent, she made it abundantly clear to producers that she didn’t want any preferential treatment because of her limb difference.
“I wanted it that way because I wanted to prove myself as a baker like everyone else, Briony tells Delish. “I’ve never let my hand stop me doing anything and I didn’t want this to be any different.”
When Briony was born, her mother was told that she had a “birth defect”. Briony said in a tweet reply when a fan asked her about her hand, “They never really gave my mum a diagnosis when I was born. Just that it [her hand] didn't grow properly in the womb.”
The term ‘disabled’ is something Briony has always struggled with, as she says that growing up, her family never used the term as it had such negative connotations. But since appearing on Bake Off, she’s embraced the term and understands that it doesn’t have to be negative.
Briony started baking as a child with her mum and her nan, but only really got into it a few years ago.
“I started watching online tutorials on YouTube and trying out different bakes, then over time, I did lots of cakes for birthdays and friends’ weddings. I love sharing my bakes with my friends and family and find being in the kitchen really therapeutic.”
But despite being a good enough baker to eventually go on to reach the semi-finals of Bake Off in 2018, Briony admits she was shocked to be offered a coveted spot on the show the very first time she applied.
“I honestly never thought I was particularly great at baking, but I just kept practising and getting better. If something failed, I’d try again and hopefully it would be better the second time, or even the third!
“It was my family and friends who told me I was good and should think about applying to Bake Off.”
Her family have always been a big inspiration to Briony in everything she does – whether that be in the kitchen or in other elements of her life. And it was her mum who taught her early on that she could do anything she put her mind to. If she couldn’t do it the way other people did it, it was up to her to find another way – in fact, she became so used to doing things her own way, she even learnt to tie her shoelaces at the same time as her older brother, which she likes to remind him of on the regular…
“I’ve taken that way of thinking on with baking and cooking too.”
Briony doesn’t have special tools or gadgets she uses because of her limb difference, but she does say her KitchenAid is her pride and joy and she uses it most days.
Same, Briony. Same.
Since appearing on GBBO, Briony has received so many thoughtful and kind messages on social media, and she’s always encouraging people like her to apply for the show too.
“I say do it, do it, do it! You never know what’s going to happen. I never in a million years thought I would get on the show and be able to turn it into a career so go for it, you won’t regret it.”
Briony now presents Channel 4’s Food Unwrapped and gets to travel the world and meet loads of amazing people, but this has nothing to do with her limb difference. “There should be more people representing disability on TV without us always having to talk about it. From disabled actors to presenters, we shouldn’t have to focus on it. It should just be natural that we’re there.
“Other people will see me on the telly without a big deal being made of my disability. I’m just representing diversity, and I’m having the time of my life!”