Just as I have done for the past few years I will be hosting a tea party, now known as Blue Sunday, on Sunday 15th May.
I have once again set up an event page on Facebook for anyone to join. So many of us are unable to travel and so once again I will be posting pictures of my event (being held in Stamford, Lincolnshire) so that even those who are stuck in bed can feel apart of the event. You can post your own photos of you drinking tea and eating cake and chat with others online who are doing exactly the same.
Any donations, of the price you'd expect to pay for tea and cake in a coffee shop, are very gratefully received. I have a personal JustGiving page and there is also a group page where those wanting to host and fundraise for their own event can link their own fundraising page with the rest of the Blue Sunday fundraisers.
The ME Association asked me to share a few 'hints and tips' with them, and, although it's not the usual type of blog post I like to publish, I thought I'd share the pointers with you here:
"Hints and Tips for a successful Blue Sunday
· Be organised – I tend to start planning in January! That may sound incredibly keen but with an unpredictable health condition you never know how long these things take. That said there isn’t a mountain of preparation to do before the big day so it isn't too late to start now.
· Gather a team of helpers – I am incredibly lucky to have the unwavering support of my family. So far I haven’t actually done any of the baking myself! My brothers and mum manned kettles, my dad distributed pots of tea and my sister was incharge of playing host.
· Book a venue – 2015 was the first year we did this but it worked very well. The success of the previous years showed us that it is incredibly hard to squeeze so many people into our house! The village hall that we booked was £30 for the whole day.
· Be kind to yourself – Although I didn’t have to do anything other than sit and chat I found the day exhausting. Who wouldn’t? So allow yourself rest breaks where you can go and hide away for a while.
· Send out invitations – somehow it makes it seem more official and people really do save the date in their diaries. Have set times within which you want people to call in. We’ve tended to have it between 2-4pm.
· Ask people to bring a cake – Baking for 80+ people is not something we’d manage! We found that many people jump at the opportunity to roll up their sleeves in the kitchen and create something delicious.
· Accommodate for all – Try to make sure there alternatives for those with dietary requirements. There are so many gluten free recipes around these days but also remember that not everyone can drink cow’s milk in their tea and that sweeteners offer an alternative to sugar for those who cannot tolerate it.
· Have party boxes for the leftovers – ask people for another small donation if they want to take any leftover cake home with them.
· Blue blue blue – I always go all out on the day and decorate everything, including myself, in blue. We had blue everything! Tablecloths, bunting, napkins
· Remember why we’re doing it – Each year I have left donation boxes on each table or around the room. I ask for the price people would expect to pay for a slice of cake and a pot of tea on a café. Last year 80 people came and donated a total of £500 in two hours!
· Do your bit for M.E. Awareness – I leave short and sweet information cards around the room so that people can educate themselves about M.E. This side of Blue Sunday is incredibly important to me; giving a true and accurate insight into the reality of the condition. (I’d be happy to share these with anyone who is unable to make their own and they could print them off.)"