A REFUGEE who lived in a garden shed while left destitute by the UK asylum system aims to cook up business success in Scotland after teaching herself to make show-stopping cakes.
Fathima Irshad fled Sri Lanka with her husband Mohamed Farook in 2004.
The Government critic claims to have been tortured by authorities and the family, which now includes toddlers Sufiyaan and Shasmeen, spent years seeking sanctuary before finally winning their case just weeks ago.
During their 14-year wait, which included periods in Wales and London, Fathima and Mohamed moved between 13 addresses after the state rejected their asylum claim.
During that period they were reliant on charity support and endured several months living in an unheated outbuilding.
Now preparing to receive their new paperwork in Glasgow, the pair are planning a secure future for their son and daughter.
And college student Fathima hopes to turn her newly learned baking skills into a profitable business.
The 33-year-old Great British Bake Off fan had never baked before coming to the UK from Sri Lanka, where popular desserts and snacks are very different to European fare.
Foregoing traditional methods, she has had to use online platforms, such as YouTube and Google, to learn how to make stunning edible creations.
These include a justice-themed masterpiece baked as a thank you gift for solicitor Euan MacKay and his team at city law firm McGlashan MacKay, which also secured wins for the Brain family and Belarusian mother Olya Merry.
Both of these cases were first covered by The National.
The complex cake took between tow and three hours to complete. It is in the shape of an immigration law book, accompanied by a gavel and scale of justice, with the law firm’s logo outweighing that of the Home Office.
Other edible artworks include an intricate three-tiered princess cake for Shasmeen’s first birthday, which was covered in detailed flowers and ornate gold detailing, as well as a kitchen-themed knock-out for her Langside College tutor featuring a miniature chef and tiny vegetables.
Fathima, who is hooked on cookery shows, said: “It’s all about cake, cake, cake.
“Everybody says the food is good and everybody is inspired by the cakes. I never thought it was a talent – I thought everybody could do this.
“I was confused that I could do something better than someone else.”
On her business plans, she said: “I never planned my future before. I have to learn how to start, where to go, how to find the way.
“Before, we didn’t have anything. Even to have a cup of tea, we had to ask someone.
“I want to stand on my own.”
Meanwhile, husband Mohamed – who blogs on Sri Lankan issues – is training for an NHS job and aims to become a top-tier football referee. The 37-year-old has already passed some badges and officiates children’s matches at Lesser Hampden.
Praising his wife, he said: “I’m constantly surprised how her creative mind works.
“We have to work hard, we have to brighten our future, we have to show real life to our kids.”
MacKay commented: “Clients are very generous and we get some really nice gifts from them, but the cake was exceptional.
“There were flocks of people coming in to have some and take some home.”