‘We were devastated when our granddaughter Jemima was diagnosed with TSC, and we felt so helpless,’ says Diana Guy, former headteacher and, since 2013, a committed fundraiser for the TSA.
‘It was a very difficult time for us all, and I remember initially having a tremendous feeling of helplessness.
‘But we wanted to do something, anything! So I thought to myself ‘Well, what can I do?’’
Diana, 68, a keen gardener, had already fundraised for other charities through the National Gardens Scheme, so she decided to combine her passion for plants with the TSA’s Tea and SCones appeal.
And so in May 2013, Diana, supported by husband Alan, her then-heavily pregnant daughter-in-law Annie, son Chris, grandchild Jemima, and a whole host of friends, opened the gardens of her home at Kitemoor Cottage to anyone who wanted to drop in for homemade scones and a cup of tea.
‘We’d done the National Gardens Scheme while we were living at a previous address,’ says Diana, ‘and we hadn’t intended to open the gardens at Kitemoor Cottage at all. But after Jemima was diagnosed everything changed and I realised this was where I could so something constructive.’
Kitemoor first opened for Tea and SCones in May 2013, and thanks to a winning combination of lots of publicity beforehand, and the decision not to charge for entry, but instead to ask people to make a donation of their choice after sampling her delicious home-made scones, the day was, as Diana describes it, ‘non-stop.’
‘We didn’t charge entry, and we didn’t charge for tea or our lovely fresh homemade scones,’ says Diana. ‘All we did was ask people to leave a donation of their choice – and that worked a treat. Some people gave a £1, some gave £20. We opened all day - from 11am to 4pm - so people could drop in whenever they liked. We also made it as child-friendly as possible with swings and a sandpit, and it just took off. We had literally hundreds come in. We were so lucky.’
Diana says that the key to her ‘luck’ is telling people about her event with plenty of notice.
‘I’m very lucky in that the local paper is supportive,’ she says, ‘so they run a little story about what we are planning to do well in advance. And I buy a little advert with them too - so that helps as well.’
Diana also put signs up at key points roadside near her home so that passing motorists could see what was coming up. Here she summaries what she says helps her to make the most of her garden and maximise the numbers of people dropping in for Tea and SCones for TSC:
‘Everything you can do in advance will help to bring in more people,’ says Diana, ‘and you are not only bringing in revenue to the TSA, but you’re also helping to raise awareness of TSC and the work of the TSA.’
Since her initial success of 2013 Diana has organised a further three ‘Tea & SCones for TSC in the Garden’weekends at Kitemoor Cottage and has, to date, raised more than £9,000 for the TSA.
‘I’d say to anyone – just go for it,’says Diana. ‘Telling everyone about it beforehand and getting lots of publicity is the key.’