Mulled wine, mince pies and 25 years of fantastic fundraising! For 25 years, Diane has been hosting a ‘Mulled wine, mince pie and grand raffle’ fundraiser to help raise money for Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice at Christmas. Read Diane’s inspiring story below and find out why she hosts a fantastically festive event every year for the Hospice… I hosted my first-ever ‘Mulled wine and mince pie’ event in December 1995 and 25 years later, the event still seems to be as popular today as it was back then! The event itself is quite simple really. I invite family, friends, neighbours and people from the local community to my house for one afternoon in December, to enjoy food, drink and company. Most people like mulled wine and mince pies but I always make sure I’ve got plenty of tea, coffee and savoury nibbles for those who prefer it! I know that folk are so busy at this time of year but I think it’s important for the local community to come together, spend time with each other and do something good for a local charity. I invite people round from 10.30am to 2.30pm and am happy for people to pop by for 20 minutes or stay the full four hours. My house is quite small so at certain times, say around 11.30am, it can be a terrible squash but no one seems to mind! The Grand Raffle is a very important feature of the event and something that a lot of people look forward to. I do it slightly different from usual raffles as my friend Pat sits with the prizes in the conservatory and as she sells tickets, she records what would be each person’s prize of choice if they won. I also have a strict ‘No Rubbish Prizes’ motto which means I get some fantastic prizes donated, such as flowering bulbs, Sunday Lunch vouchers and food and drink items. I started my mulled wine event after my aunt Dorothy (or Dot as she was known as) was cared for at the Hospice in December 1994. Dot had the best end-of-life-care that there could be, which is why I wanted to raise funds for the Hospice. Dot used to visit the Day Hospice at Birmingham St Mary’s, where she would take part in activities and get to know the staff. But around 10th December, her condition worsened and it was recommended that she stayed on the Hospice’s Inpatient Unit. Back in 1994, I was teaching and so I used to visit Dot every afternoon once I’d finished work. She was still very lively and we used to sit and do the crossword together (she was always better than me) and enjoy a glass of sherry. On the 21st December, the Hospice was hosting a Christmas party for everyone staying there and Dot was really looking forward to it – she had dressed up especially for the occasion. Sadly though, she just wasn’t well enough to attend so the nurses brought the party to her. I have a wonderful framed photo of her with some of the staff in their ‘party clothes’. It was such a lovely gesture and one that I will never forget. Unfortunately, Dot deteriorated after that day and on the evening of the 23rd December, she died peacefully at the Hospice. I’ll always be so grateful for the staff’s kindness – they were wonderful with my aunt and gave her the best care possible. It’s hard to describe how special they are but they really are just the most amazing people. I feel very proud that my mulled wine and mince pie event raises money in my aunt’s memory. So far, I’ve raised over £11,000 for the Hospice which will help local people receive care and support when they need it most. Thank you to everyone who has come along to my event and supported it and thank you to Birmingham St Mary’s for the wonderful care you provide. Thank you Diane for sharing your story with us. If you would like to find out more about the Hospice’s services, including information about our Day Hospice and Inpatient Unit, please take a read here. Of, if you’ve been inspired by Diane’s story and would like to host your own fundraiser for the Hospice, find some top tips here.