LitKit on the road: first stop, St Andrews

In 1988 Gill Fyffe gave birth to a daughter. Following complications, she was transfused with 4 units of blood. Although this was at the height of media frenzy about the dangers of contracting HIV, she was assured that the procedure would be safe.

In 1995 the Blood Transfusion Service contacted her to inform her that the blood may have been contaminated. Gill was then diagnosed with Hepatitis C. In the years which followed, Gill and her family struggled to cope with treatment for the infection (and subsequent debilitating side-effects), her loss of a promising teaching career, and a legal battle for justice or an acknowledgement of the government’s culpability. The family had to leave their beautiful Scottish cottage and move to London.

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Earlier this year Gill published a memoir of her family’s courageous fight to recover from this devastating event. In the same month, Lord Penrose announced the findings of the Scottish inquiry into the contaminated blood scandal and the Prime Minister, David Cameron, apologised for the mistakes which led to the use of unfit blood supplies. I (Amy) stole a few minutes’ conversation with Gill at her book launch on 24th March. In the recording below, Gill introduces her memoir and talks about apple crumble, apple cake and the ‘inevitable sponge’.

Apple Cake Recipe


175g butter
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
200g self-raising flour, sieved
50g ground almonds
80ml apple juice
400g diced apples
1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger

A greased 20cm cake tin


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees C.
2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
3. Beat the eggs and add to the mixing bowl. Add a spoonful of the self-raising flour to prevent the eggs from curdling
4. Add the rest of the flour, the ground almonds, and the spices. Mix.
5. Fold in the apple juice and diced apples.
6. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 30 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Apple Crumble

This recipe was given to me by a friend of Gill and is the one which features in her memoir.


1 lb cooking apples
3 oz brown sugar
1/2 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tbs water
2 oz butter
4 oz plain flour
2 oz caster sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger


Peel and slice the apples. Put in a saucepan with the water, sugar and lemon rind. Cook over a medium heat until the apples are soft. Transfer into a greased oven-proof dish.

Rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and ginger. Mix well. Spread evenly over the apple and press down lightly.

Bake at 180 degrees C or 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Serve with custard or whipped cream.


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