By Victoria Kingston

Well, here we were again – the second annual coffee morning was held on Sunday July 14th – and our kitchen was absolutely heaving with friends and supporters. It was a truly stupendous event – the result of much hard work from quite a few people who never let me down. The cakes were marvellous – many thanks to the guests who brought their special cake – David immediately bought Joy’s lemon drizzle – yes, the entire thing. And Gina bought Jo’s banana loaf – yes, the entire thing.

CakeA huge thank you to the Cake Sisters, Linda, Julie and Nikky, who were baking for days beforehand, and who spent the entire morning serving cake and taking money. Joy did the drinks again – coffee, tea, juice or iced water. She was aided by Sue, who has put her name down for the same job next year – and Cathy.

They also found a moment to admire the coats Sue has knitted for Spain – and I believe she has sent the pattern to Joy already. My new neighbour Beth was on door duty, greeting everyone cheerfully and giving them their name labels. Even baby Isla, the youngest guest, had a label, though she did try to eat it later, so it had to be stuck to her pram, just out of reach.

She had a set of maracas, so I showed her how to use them, as I sang a loop of “I’m gonna say how it’s gonna be / you’re gonna give your love to me.” I had forgotten the rest of the words, but Isla seemed okay with that. She grabbed for the maracas and did her own version. Some people felt it eclipsed mine – but that’s show biz, isn’t it? Hard to compete with the appeal of a performer who is nine months old and very cute.

CakePeople talked and laughed, sat out in the relentless sun, then came back inside to cool off in front of the fans which were running at full pelt.

Janet and Brian were amazing – out there for the duration, selling millions of raffle tickets, folding and folding and folding.

Chris (Dilley) helped with that exciting job, before she was dragged away to do something else.

The raffle was fabulous – at least 50 prizes, donated by all of us. Once again, the Hasan family bought us a brand new colour TV as the star prize. They couldn’t be there because it was Ramadan, but they were definitely there in spirit.

Not surprisingly, the telly was chosen by the first ticket winner, amid a round of applause.

There was wine, handbags, toiletries, chocolates, toys, books, a cut and blow dry by Fiona (she is a hairdresser, don’t worry!), and wonderful theatre tickets, donated by The Ambassador Theatre Group and Richmond Theatre. Thank you Karin and Kate – once again. I drew the raffle – at top speed of course – and I was helped by Aela, who was a huge asset.

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Photographs were taken expertly and discreetly by Tanja and Chris (Jones). David took some, but soon gave up because, as he put it, “Those two women have it all organised. They don’t need me.” Never mind, he was a good raffle steward, helping people find their prizes and putting aside the booty for people who had generously donated but couldn’t be with us: like Norah and Mary, Paula and Bob.The important point about events like this is – it’s a brilliant way of raising funds from a different and wider group of people. Events that involve all us regulars are fine and we like them, but it’s so important to do things that bring in a broader crowd.

People who don’t have greyhounds, or even pets, but who are prepared to come along, have a good time, eat lots of cake and part with some money. All of the guests did just that – generously supported us, made new friends, had a great morning and left, asking when the next one would be. The answer is next July.

We had about 36 guests, but you don’t need to have so many. A coffee morning with ten people – or even six people – will raise much needed funds for the kennels – and it will be fun. If all the Hersham supporters held a small event this year, it would add up to a lot of vet bills, food and bedding. We raised £500.

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For me personally, there were a few highlights which will remain with me: one was that I noticed my scales had been moved slightly in my shower room. So someone had used them. I had a vision of someone coming in, going to the loo, and having a quick check of their weight before going back to eat more cake. “Oh, I haven’t gained any, so I shall go and sample those cupcakes.”

The other highlight for me was that Linda won the gin! Last year, it was won by my neighbour Richard. “I was robbed,” Linda complained all year. (And I do mean all year!) Well, this time she took the gin home with her. I am very relieved, I must say. So is Richard, to be honest.

Do give it a try. Just set a date, invite your friends and neighbours – and let the games begin!

We feel we are getting better and better at it – so next year’s event will be even more wonderful. I have already started collecting raffle prizes to be stored away for the day. And Linda has started drinking the gin (in a moderate way). With tonic, over ice. What a result!

Photos by Chris Jones, Tanja Nordman and David Bowman