The inspirational founder of an annual online tea party is planning her fifth event.
Anna Jones, from Stamford, started the Blue Sunday Tea Party in 2013 to raise money for the ME Association, which supports patients with Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, an illness which causes extreme exhaustion that does not go away with rest or sleep.
Since the first event in 2013, the parties - which invite people to enjoy a cuppa and a slice of cake in their own homes and post photos on social media - have raised more than £8,000, as the idea caught on and other ‘hosts’ from around the UK and even Australia joined in.
Anna, 28, who herself was diagnosed with ME in 2010, launched the event after realising how isolated the illness made her feel. At times, she was so poorly that she had to be spoon fed meals, and pushed to the bathroom in a wheelchair.
She was too weak to climb the stairs, so her parents converted their dining room into a bedroom.
She has recently become engaged and now shares a home with her fiancé, but because of her health is unable to work and struggles with day-to-day activities.
In previous years, Anna has also hosted a real tea party, either at her parent’s home in Wothorpe or in a hall. But after catching a bug at Christmas, her own health has taken a dip and this year’s event, which will be on Sunday, will be on a smaller scale and not open to the public.
Anna said: “If you have ME, the tea parties mean you might not be able to meet in the ‘real’ world, but technology makes it possible to stay connected in the virtual one.
“All we ask is that people donate the price they would expect to pay for a cup of tea and cake in a cafe.
““From experience, I’ve found it a bit much to try to have a big tea party and run the online event at the same time,” she explains. “Although last year we raised £2,215 through Blue Sunday tea parties in the UK.”
Find out more at Anna’s blog www.the-slow-lane.com