Belfast Telegraph

The fabulous baker boy of Crossgar raising a load of dough for charity in the family kitchen

By Rachel Martin

A 22-year-old Co Down man with Down's syndrome has raised almost £8,000 for charity through his home-baking business.

Ryan Bogues sells his cookies and buns through an honesty box placed at the end of his lane in Crossgar. He sells between 20 and 50 packets a day - which can make keeping up with demand a challenge.

Helped by his mum, dad, brother, two sisters and grandfather, Ryan first started selling cookies for charity at school.

But it was only when he left education inspired by a local "egg man's" honesty box that the baker boy decided to set up on his own.

For Ryan the best bit is doing something he loves while also helping others.

Last year he managed to raise £2,000 for Marie Curie Hospice; £1,311 for Medicines San Frontieres; £376 for PIPS; £523 for Faith Outreach Homeless Charity; £582 for Teconnaught Cross-Community Playgroup; £677 for a woman undergoing proton therapy; £830 for learning difficulty charity Mainstay DRP; £150 for hedgehog rescue at Rathgael Veterinary Clinic, £600 for Ulster Wildlife, and £710 for Age NI - totalling an impressive £7,759.

Last year he was also named Inspirational Young Person of the year at the Young and Future Talent Awards (YAFTAs), and won a Lidl Community Award.

He was even asked to make a chocolate chip cookie wedding cake for his best friend.

Mum Hazel says the life skills which the business is teaching Ryan make her proud.

"We'll go shopping together and on a Monday we will go to the bank and he'll put out fresh batches and count the money - everyone knows Ryan and people have been very supportive," she said.

He enjoys making up names for his products, such as 'Ryan's Crunchy, Munchy, Eat Them With Your Lunchy Chocolate Chip Shortbread' and 'Spapple tarts' - after the family from Spa who donated the apples.

Ryan frequently redecorates the cookie box and every month picks a new theme - next month he says will be 'tool month'.

Special Christmas boxes containing a carrot for Rudolph, brownies, Malteaser buns, shortbread, marshmallow and Rice Krispie lollies sold out within half-an-hour - the boxes were so full they could barely close the lids.

Ryan said he was very grateful to everyone for their generosity and added a "big thank you" to those who leave gifts in the box.

One of the most touching, a sugar sprinkler, has the words 'We can't all be stars but we can all twinkle' written on the side.

Word has mainly spread verbally, but Ryan also uses Facebook to share news.

"He loves getting messages," added Hazel. "His face lights up and I think to myself: 'Yes, well done Ryan.' That means more than anything. He knows it's not just about him - it's his business but it's all about helping others."

This month's profits will be donated to PIPS.

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