Express & Star

Girl with autism bakes hundreds of scones for pensioners during lockdown

Belfast eight-year-old Riah Totten has replaced her love of football for baking.

Riah Totten

An eight-year-old Belfast girl with autism has discovered a passion for baking and made hundreds of scones for pensioners and vulnerable people during the coronavirus crisis.

Riah Totten replaced her love of football for baking after the Covid-19 restrictions meant the primary school pupil could no longer play sport.

The Belfast baker, with the help of mother Amanda Dobbin, has made over 300 scones for pensioners living in the Ravenhill, Clonduff, Belvoir and Cregagh areas.

Ms Dobbin explained that Riah was finding the Covid-19 measures “tough”.

“She was struggling with the restrictions but she was happy being off because she doesn’t like school anyway,” Ms Dobbin said.

“But the cooking started when my mum dropped some baking stuff for the kids. Riah would sometimes get obsessed with things so when she started baking scones she got obsessed with it.

“We made 120 scones the first day and then yesterday we made 265.

“She has baked plain, cherry, fruit, coconut as well as chocolate chip scones.

“Riah is also a member of the Belvoir ASD support group and she made some scones for the leader and then she made some for Belvoir Community Group so we bagged them up three scones per household.

Riah Totten baking scones in her Belfast home for pensioners (Amanda Dobbin/PA)

“We used to live in Clonduff so a batch went there and then the other to Cregagh.”

Riah used four litres of milk, six bags of self-raising flour, a bag of sugar, 12 eggs, a bottle of cooking oil and salt to bake the huge batch of scones.

Her endeavour caught the attention of Belfast’s Lord-Lieutenant Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle who rang Riah to congratulate her.

Ms Dobbin said they were awake from 6.30am and baked right through to midday.

She added: “It’s just taken off, she loves it. She says that Gordon Ramsay inspires her and now thinks she doesn’t need to go back to school because she wants to open a scone shop and work there all day.

“She has such a big heart, she always thinks of everyone else.”

Around 30 organisations have joined forces through the East Belfast Coronavirus Community Support umbrella group to provide services for people across the area during the Covid-19 emergency.

Details are available on the group’s Facebook page.

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