A POPULAR weekly market could close its doors for good unless more people come forward to help cook up tasty treats.

Organisers of the weekly Dorchester Country Market fear their stalls will be left empty when long time supporter Audrey Penniston hangs up her apron for good next month.

Mrs Penniston has been cooking for the market - formerly the WI Market - since 1977 and regularly bakes up batches of cakes, biscuits and pies to sell.

Market controller Stella Knight said: "Audrey has been involved with the market since 1977 and another of our cooks is also stepping down, when they go on September 2 we will be struggling to fill the stalls.

"It's the food that the majority of people come for but if we don't have as much of that as we have in the past then we will be struggling to survive.

"The food keeps the market going."

The Dorchester Country Market is held every Friday morning in the Corn Exchange from 8.30am until about 11am.

It sells everything from knitted toys and plants to homemade jams, cakes and pies and regulars queue outside ahead of the market opening to ensure that they can buy their favourite treat.

Mrs Knight said: "It would be a shame if we did have to close because the market is very popular, which is why we are appealing for new cooks."

She added: "We need support quickly because if no one comes forward the market won't be here any more."

Anyone interested in becoming a cook for the country market must have a basic certificate in food hygiene, but can be trained if necessary. Ten per cent of the money raised from the sale of goods goes towards the running of the market but the cooks get to keep the rest to cover ingredients.

Mrs Knight said anyone interested in signing up to the co-operative as a cook - men as well as women are welcome - should either visit the Friday market or call her on 01305 812050.