32 year-old Anna started the annual ‘Blue Sunday’ event in 2013 after being unable to celebrate her birthday the year before. She asked her family and friends to join her for a virtual party, posting photos of themselves enjoying cake and coffee online.
At a time when she was unable to leave her home or have any visitors the event helped her to feel connected to the world outside her bedroom. She wanted others in her position to also enjoy that feeling.
“The Tea Party For M.E started in May 2013. To date, it’s raised over £20,000. It was inspired by my virtual birthday party the previous year, and my desire to join in with a fundraising event and not just sponsor someone else’s.
I had been too unwell to have visitors on my birthday the previous year, so my family and I had asked that my friends and family post a photo online of them raising a cup of tea and eating a slice of cake in order of my birthday. At a time when I was very isolated and very unwell, I had felt so happy to see their faces and feel connected with them even from afar.
I had been too unwell to have visitors on my birthday the previous year, so my family and I had asked that my friends and family post a photo online of them raising a cup of tea and eating a slice of cake in order of my birthday. At a time when I was very isolated and very unwell, I had felt so happy to see their faces and feel connected with them even from afar.”Anna first had the idea back in 2013.
In May 2013, ME Awareness month, she wanted to commemorate the occassion. However, conventional fundraising methods weren’t accessible for her. Anna decided to change that, she wanted to create something accessible for people with ME. Following the success of her birthday party she decided to do the same again, but this time as a fundraising event.
The idea of the ‘Virtual Tea Party’ was born. People from across the UK joined together posting photos and videos from their own tea parties. This meant people with ME were able to take part in the social event and connect with others online.
‘Blue Sunday’ has become an annual event in the ME calendar and has influenced The ME Association’s annual fundraiser (Go Blue for ME). Anna has also recieved various nominations for her fundraising.
This year Anna is in contact with more ME charities than ever before!
“People have always used ‘Blue Sunday’ as an opportunity to donate to an M.E charity of their choice. This has sometimes differed from my own choice. So although I know we’ve raised over £20,000 the exact amount is unknown as I wasn’t in contact with all of those charities.
This year, I wanted to make it as easy as possible for people to donate to a charity of their choice, whilst keeping a track of the total amount donated. So I’ve got personal donation pages for several charities, along with the direct links to charity donation pages where people can simply make reference to ‘Blue Sunday’ and the charity will know to feed back to me.
I’m in touch with 11 M.E. charities from across the world who will join in on the day and let me know how much was donated to them.”
The tea party is now celebrated across the world with many people within the ME commuinity hosting their own private tea parties and sharing them online.
“It’s international! People join in from all over the world. They’ve been people holding little tea parties with their own family and friends as far away as Australia. Some people use ‘Blue Sunday’ as an opportunity to meet their online M.E friends in person for the very first time. I’ve had friends travel to attend my own tea party and it’s so wonderful to meet them after years of online friendship and support.”
Anna has already begun to prepare for 2021’s ‘Blue Sunday’ event and urges others to do the same.
Anna has lots of tips and tricks for people who are planning to organise their own tea parties this year…
- Ask people to save the date and share information with them about how to join in. For those who are a little unsure, last year’s Facebook Event is still available to have a look at to see how the online event works.
- Organise a group video. All or invite a few people over for a garden gathering
- Government restrictions don’t allow for my usual 70+ people in a village hall. But I’m thinking of contacting a local bakery even though I’ll be the only one eating cake at my own tiny tea party this year. Even if you’re by yourself on the day, you deserve a treat.
- I really see it as a day of celebration so it’s a great excuse to dig out your cups and saucers and wear that blue dress you hardly get to wear, or treat yourself to some new blue pyjamas.
- Schedule in rest breaks if you’re socialising in person. I’m quite strict with myself on the day and go off and hide in a quiet place to properly rest for chunks of time throughout the afternoon.
This year’s Tea Party for ME is taking place on Sunday 16th May (2021) between 12 midday and 3PM.
You can keep up to date with Anna and support the cause via her socials.