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We turned our cake stall into a digital recipe book

Sally-Ann has been raising money for the BLF for about 30 years. When her next charity event was cancelled due to COVID-19, she came up with a new way of raising money while enjoying her passion for baking.

My mother lived with emphysema for as long as I can remember. It showed me how terrible it is to be breathless constantly. She grew up at a time when no-one knew that cigarettes were bad for you so she started smoking when she was 11 years old in South Wales. She had always had weak lungs so it was a particularly bad idea for her. She battled with giving up smoking all her life but the emphysema finally overcame her and she died in 1973 aged 60.

I had always supported lung charities because of my mother’s illness. I think that the first money I raised was for a sponsored slim – maybe it’s time to do that again! Then when my daughter was born I gave up my job and as “a lady of leisure” I asked 6 or 7 local friends with young children to join me and we created a local fund-raising Committee.

Fundraising in Richmond

For quite a few years we had 3 main fundraisers a year. Richmond Town Centre used to hold a Victorian Evening before Christmas each year when the shops were open into the evening and charity stalls were allowed on the street. We ran a Mulled Wine and Christmas Biscuit stall which was always really busy.

I remember two things particularly about running that stall. Firstly, we each decided to make up to 100 biscuits in fun shapes and ice them. Cutting out the reindeer antlers was a particular challenge. Also, I wasn’t a great icer so my friend offered to do it for me, so I made 200 biscuits and she iced 200 biscuits. Phew. Second, we made up the mulled wine in electric urns on the street complete with trailing cables and boiling liquid. The thought of how incredibly dangerous the whole enterprise was fills me with horror now. Health and safety or what?

The second fundraiser we called a ‘Ladies Night’. We asked suppliers of all sorts of nice things to come and display their wares in my living room and invited friends to come and buy. The suppliers gave us a percentage of their takings. It was always a jolly evening and we Committee members probably bought more than anyone else. We stopped that more or less when I moved house.

Cake stall success

The third is still running today. Richmond has held a May Fair on Richmond Green every year for possibly the last 40 years or more. It’s always been a very popular event with lots of charity stalls dotted between carousels and such like. We tried second-hand books but that was too much like hard work for not big takings. We had a spell of running a ‘Pluck-a-Duck’ pond which was fun but raised little.

Then I noticed how many people queued up for cakes and realised that they seemed to be prepared to pay more money for a piece of cake than a book! So we started our cake stall, which has become fairly well-known to customers, quite a few coming back to us year after year. We sell whole cakes to take home, small cakes, pieces of cake to eat at the fair and any other edible goodies that friends have given us to sell. People return each year specifically for our cheesecakes! We have no expenses except a small table fee and the soft drinks because the Committee and a lot of our friends bake everything themselves.

A new way to fundraise in 2020

Of course, this year the May Fair was cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus. The May Fair is the one big fundraiser we run annually nowadays so I wanted to find a new way to raise funds in 2020. I had a brain-storming session with my husband and we came up with the idea of asking everyone who normally would have baked to give us the recipe they would have used instead. On top of that, I asked them all for £15 so I could send them back a copy of the recipe book.

We got about 80 recipes. All the contributors then got their digital recipe book for their £15. I then asked other people I know to buy the collection for £20. We ended up making more money than on a usual May Fair. The cost of doing this was zero and I could do it all from my laptop in the kitchen! Unfortunately we can’t sell it in a wide-spread way because of copyright issues but I have added a recipe here for which copyright is not a problem.

Much as I really enjoyed the venture this year, I missed being at the May Fair and meeting people. Let’s hope that life is back to some semblance of normality in time for next year’s Fair. Otherwise I’ll have to think of another way to get my hands on peoples’ money!

Why not join Sally Ann and take on a fundraising from home challenge.

There are plenty of ways to support our work from the comfort of your home. Every fundraiser (no matter the size) helps us to support people with lung disease at a time when they need it most.

Find out more about fundraising from home

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20 October 2020