Bake Off's Imelda made some friends for life on show
Dromore woman Imelda McCarron has said taking part in The Great British Bake Off was "one of the best experiences" of her life, despite being the first contestant to leave this year's show.
The first episode of the Channel 4 series began on Tuesday with Biscuit Week. Imelda's cherry, white chocolate and coconut flakemeal biscuits impressed the judges in the signature regional biscuit challenge.
However, her wagon wheels fell flat in the subsequent technical challenge, leaving her in 11th place. Her "selfie" lemon and ginger biscuit was compared to "stale shortbread" by judge Paul Hollywood and deemed "a little bland and dry" by Prue Leith.
Reflecting on her exit, the countryside recreation officer at Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, who is mum to 15-year-old Piaras, said: "I'm disappointed to be the first off but it was better to be there for one week rather than not at all.
"Even though it was short and sweet, I feel that I learned a lot about baking and also meeting new people and making friends for life.
"I have to say it was 100% one of the best experiences of my life.
"I have always found social situations awkward, but since being on Bake Off they really don't scare me as much. Being on the show has totally changed me as a personality, it has made me more confident."
Imelda said her best moment was meeting the other bakers and the positive feedback she received from the judges for her flakemeal biscuits - especially as baking biscuits is her "pet hate".
"I was beaming as I am so proud of my oatmeal biscuits," she added.
"My worst moment was obviously when my name was called out. If I did it all again, I just wish I had done more with the selfie biscuit. I think I should have been a bit more creative and I took the challenge too literally."
Imelda said it was "lovely to represent the rural community" in Northern Ireland "and for them to get some recognition which they so much deserve".
She will now appear with Jo Brand on The Great British Bake Off: An Extra Slice on Friday night and said her family was "so pleased by the media reaction".
"They are so proud of me," she said. "My daddy Tom has enjoyed the whole experience and he is super proud of me.
"Piaras is enjoying it and I think his friends think it is a bit cool."