Baking fundraiser gave me a focus

Organising a baking fundraiser
gave me a focus

After her daughter Hendrikje was diagnosed with leukaemia, Thirza found organising a community fundraiser for The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off gave her focus and the chance to bring the whole community together to show their support for Hendrikje.Thirza shares her story and fundraising tips below.

Hendrikje was diagnosed with Acute Lymphobastic Leukaemia (ALL) at the end of January 2018. We had spent Christmas back with our families in the Netherlands, where Hendrikje had started to feel very unwell. We thought she had flu, as did our GP. After three weeks of no improvement, once we were back in Ireland, the GP did some blood tests.

The next day she was urgently admitted to hospital for further tests and that’s when she was diagnosed. We were shocked, sad and scared, and sick with uncertainty.

Hendrikje has been so brave throughout all of this

She inspires me to keep going… And to not moan. If she doesn't moan, who am I to start?

Hendrikje went through various stages of chemo and other medication at home and in hospital. Her treatment will continue until well into 2020. She was able to start her GCSEs at school mid-September and is keeping up really well. We now hope she will be able to continue her normal routines without many side effects.

Organising a fundraiser gave me a distraction

Hendrikje’s leukaemia has a very high recovery rate, and that is all thanks to continuing research into cancer treatment. I was quite keen to do some fundraising to try and help make sure that research can continue. Many around me declared me crazy to organise a fundraiser while Hendrikje was still quite poorly, and in and out of hospital.

But it helped me to have something to focus on. I chose to organise a tea and coffee morning alongside a bake sale to try and get as many people interested, and to raise as much money as possible.

The support was overwhelming

From 10 until 12 there was a steady stream of people looking for a cuppa with a bun, for bakes to take home and to meet up with friends and old acquaintances. A lot of people attending the tea and coffee morning know us personally and were so pleased to see Hendrikje up and about. When it got really busy, my husband Paul and I were getting a little anxious about her low immune system, and so Paul whisked her away again.

We raised just over £1,100 for the tea and coffee morning, £280 from the raffle and £370 from the bake sale! After the event many people who couldn’t make it made a donation, bringing the total to £2,580! The support from friends, acquaintances, and local businesses was overwhelming.

Some had heard about Hendrikje’s illness, and all knew somebody who had suffered from cancer, or had suffered from it themselves, and were more than willing to help out one way or another in support of Cancer Research UK.

You can also fund life-saving research with The Great Stand Up To Cancer Bake Off. Get your free pack today – it's full of everything you need to host your own baking fundraiser.

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Thirza's top tips for a Showstopping fundraiser

Start organising as early as you can

If you can tick something off the list early, do it. It saves a little stress at the end. And keep track of what is being baked, so you don’t get 1,000 scones and nothing else!

Ask for help

From very early on, I asked as many people as I knew for help: to promote the event, to bake cakes, to make tea and coffee, to serve, to supply raffle prizes, to help tidying up. Get as much help for the event itself as possible: it is better to have too many people who help out, so everybody can take a break, than have a few running their socks off.

Keep things simple and don’t set prices

We did not set any prices: we asked for donations for enjoying a coffee or tea with a nice unlimited selection of baked goods to eat at the venue, as well as donations for any baked goods to take home. We also had a large transparent box for the donations. Seeing the donations so clearly encourages people to maybe give a little extra!

Thirza and Hendrikje pouring tea surrounded by their bake sale food