A British fund-raising event inspires Strawberry Teas.
By Betty Terry • Photographs Courtesy of Breast Cancer Care
In the United States, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but in the United Kingdom, breast-cancer awareness has its own season—summer. That’s when Breast Cancer Care, a nonprofit organization similar to the Susan G. Komen Foundation in America, focuses its grassroots fund-raising efforts. And in typical British fashion, they do it in a delightful way—with a cup of tea.
Breast Cancer Care was founded in 1973 by Betty Westgate, herself a breast-cancer patient, to provide support for women going through treatment. That support can be as simple as providing a scarf for a woman dealing with hair loss from chemotherapy or as complicated as helping patients wade through all their treatment options. And like nonprofit organizations everywhere, Breast Cancer Care relies on donations and volunteer support.
The Strawberry Tea fund-raising campaign began twelve years ago in summer 2006. Each year, the charity asks supporters to host a tea party with a strawberry theme during June, July, or August. Tea parties can be simple or extravagant—a friendly get-together among friends or a strawberry fair for the entire community. Participants have found many ways to raise money for Breast Cancer Care—from charging an admission fee and holding raffles for prizes to sponsoring a strawberry cake bake-off and auctioning off the winners.
Each person has his or her own reasons for getting involved. For Sue, a single mother with two teenage children, hosting a Strawberry Tea was a way of giving back. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and relied on the charity’s one-to-one peer support to get her through the tough times. “Talking to someone who had been through similar circumstances helped me so much when my life was turned upside down,” Sue recalls. “Breast Cancer Care helped me through some dark, lonely days of treatment.” To celebrate her return to good health, she hosted a Strawberry Tea last summer, where she raised more than £800 (US $1,087.55).