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GBBO success story Holly Bell shares some words of wisdom with new contestants

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As the fifth season of The Great British Bake Off kicks off, HELLO! Online speaks exclusively to series two runner-up, Holly Bell, about her experience on the hit BBC One show and how her life has changed since she faced judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood

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Holly Bell was runner-up in the second series of GBBO

This series will see the

youngest contestant to ever appear on the show,17-year-old Martha

, who was studying for her A-levels during filming. As the youngest in series two herself, Holly sympathises. "I didn't have the experience that the others did. I was the youngest woman in my year. I really wanted to show that just because I was young didn't mean that I couldn't do it," she tells

HELLO! Online

.Admitting that the show gets harder and harder every year, Holly shares some words of wisdom for the new bakers."Try to enjoy it, look after your body and soul and make sure you get enough sleep…Really look after yourself," she advises the hopefuls.

The 12 contestants of the new series of Great British Bake Off

She remembers one of her high points on GBBO, when she was praised by Paul Hollywood for her delicious cheese, onion and potato pie during Pie Week. "He'd always been really tough on me…so when he went on about it I went bright red," she says. How did Holly get into Bake Off? She was working in a high-pressured job in advertising at the time, which meant that balancing working life and being a mum proved difficult. While on maternity leave with her second child, she came across the blog of the show's first ever winner, Ed Kimber, and saw that GBBO was looking for applications for the next series. "I thought, 'I quite like baking, maybe I might be able to do something else with my life…The motivation for applying was to spend more time with my kids," she says.

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Holly Bell pictured on The Great British Bake Off

Now juggling motherhood and plenty of baking – she has just released her first cookbook – Holly knows all too well the effects baking has on the skin. She suggests that the contestants use a good moisturiser and hand cream, such as Nelson Calendula cream. "I'm a big fan of using anything that is natural," she reveals. The organic ingredients in Nelsons Calendula cream are perfect for Holly, especially when she is around her newborn baby.The baker's top tip: "Really massage it into your hands. When I washed up I used to put hand cream into the wash as well."Holly's new cookbook, Recipes From A Normal Mum, is already in the best sellers' list. It contains 100 baking recipes for every occasion, be it for a crowd, a kids' party or a meal for two "in a flash"."It covers all of your life events that you might need a recipe for," she says of her culinary tome.


Featuring snaps by renowned food photographer David Loftus, who has shot for the likes of Jamie Oliver and Pippa Middleton, the book features beautiful pictures of her easy-to-make food."Nothing in it should be daunting or take absolutely ages…people don't have the time these days but they still want to eat well."Get a flavour for Holly's baking from her blog, where she posts her own creations. Her favourite recipes are her rye, spelt and white bread loaf and her adorable lemon button biscuits, which are "simple and quick to make" – and perfect for edible presents.Great British Bake Off starts on Wednesday, 6 August, at 8pm on BBC One.