Help, I Need a Marquee………

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The conversation went something like “Hello, I need a marquee.”  The reply was “That’s ok. For how many and what’s your budget.”  “About 40 people. Er… there’s a problem with the budget. There’s isn’t one.”

I expected the phone line to go dead. But to my  amazement, Richard  from Storer Smith Events laughed and told me to go on.  He wanted to know more.

There followed a somewhat embarrassing account.  I was organising my first ever fund-raising event.   I’d failed to keep track of ticket sales. Now there were 46 people coming – and the venue could only comfortably take 25.  I was having sleepless nights. People were going to turn up for a posh afternoon tea- dressed in their Sunday best. What on earth was I going to do?

There was a silence on the end of the phone. Then a sigh. Then the words, “Well, I’d better help you out then.”    I don’t think I have ever been so relieved. My bacon had well and truly been saved.

Richard – I’ll forever think of him as my knight in shining armour -saved the day. He provided a 6m by 9m marquee,  with carpet, tables, chairs, and also a monster  (almost) fire-breathing heater –  complete with gas. A team of workers to put it up- and take it down.  All free of charge.

Thanks to Richard,  we had a fabulous marquee for our vintage afternoon  tea- all in aid of Rainbows Hospice.  We enjoyed a  wonderful talk  and slide show from celebrated author Barbara Segall   who was speaking about her newly-launched book, Secret Gardens of East Anglia. I wrote a review about the book here .    Gary from Rainbows talked about the wonderful facilities and work at the hospice for children. Such a heartwarming, inspiring afternoon.

We served six types of posh sandwiches, and tomato and thyme tarts. Followed by a mountain of cakes, mostly made by my wonderful Mum. And gallons of tea in pretty mismatched china.

It all worked beautifully and I’m pleased ( and mightily relieved ) to report that we made almost £1,000 for Rainbows.

I’m so grateful to Richard for his kindness. It is a relief to know that wonderful people like him still exist when there is so much bad news in the world.

There’s a whole roll call of people to thank for helping to make the event a success. But chiefly, I want to thank Richard, for his kind and generous help.  Also Barbara Segall, who refused a fee for her talk. My friend Alison Levey from blackberrygarden.co.uk  blog who fetched, carried and was fab at selling raffle tickets. Geary’s Craft Bakeries provided the bread ( thank you Charles Geary). The co-op at East Leake supplied the fillings for the sandwiches. The Printers in Loughborough provided posters and tickets.

For the goody bags for each person who attended, Lady Ursula at Easton Walled Gardens provided 50 complimenatry tickets to visit the gardens.  Burgon and Ball gave me beautiful tins of string. Mr Fothergills gave me  packets of  flower seed. Cooks Lane Herbs gave me gorgeously-wrapped, wonderfully-scented handmade Red Clover and Honey Soap. Seedball   sent tins of wildflower seed.

For the raffle, books came from Alison Levey, Frances Lincoln (Quarto Homes) publishers, wine from the Round Robin, East Leake, flowers and plants from Googie’s Flowers , East Leake, calendars from The Calender Club, Loughbrough, Chocolates from Thorntons. Six Acre Nursery at Costock gave a lovely hellebore plant.

The photos are examples of marquees provided by Storer Smith Events. As you can imagine, I wish everyone would now rush out and book him up for the next 10 years. Such a good-hearted soul has won my loyalty for life!  Contact Richard at info@storersmithevents.co.uk. Phone 01889 563200. He’s at Uttoxeter ST14 5AP but supplies marquees all around the country.

32 thoughts on “Help, I Need a Marquee………

    • Thank you Audrey. I really enjoyed organising the afternoon tea. Next time though it will keep a checklist of tickets sold! I underestimated how many people would want to come! I’ve learned such a lot – for when I do it again. Thanks for reading and for your kind words. Rainbows is the most amazing place. Thank goodness they are there to help the children. 🌈

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jessica. I think it really does. No one turned me down. I just asked, ever so nicely, and to my amazement, everyone just said yes! It must have been my lucky day! I really enjoyed organising the party and will keep going now I’ve started. It’s reassuring to know, as you say. Thanks for reading and getting in touch. Have a great weekend. Love karen x

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    • Thank you Lucy. It did have a cheerful, party atmosphere. I put red blankets on all the chairs to keep people warm and make the marquee look cosy. And I threaded little mini – fairy lights through the flowers on the table. Didn’t cost much to do that, and it made a difference. Do hope you are recovering from your operation and sending a hug your way. Thanks as always for reading and getting in touch. Love karen xx

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  1. A lovely post. Good on you for asking Richard as you did and likewise for him helping as he did. His company will also gain from the good publicity generated by those present probably mentioning and recommending it well into the future. That’s the best kind of publicity and really is priceless.
    Well done on what was clearly a wonderful event, and for raising an impressive amount for such a good cause. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Mike. It must have been my lucky day. I just looked on-line to find a marquee supplier. I didn’t know Richard before the event. So grateful that he took pity on my predicament. I’ve learned a lot. Next time I’ll have a deadline for tickets , and a limited number. In my inexperience and enthusiasm I just said yes to everyone who rang up and then didn’t hear from some of them until the week before. One person even texted on the morning to ask what time and where it was. So relieved it all went ok. There was plenty of food and everyone said they had a lovely time. Thanks again for reading and for getting in touch. Have a good week end. xx

      Liked by 1 person

    • Oh wow, that has made me laugh. How an earth did you choose a winner. Phew, rather you than me. Thanks so much for reading and getting in touch. I’m feeling a little less foolish now the event is over. Boy, could it have been a disaster to have no -where to serve a sit–down afternoon tea for that number on a cold November day! Never again. In that format. However…..I’m planning my next Gardeners’ event soon. Will I ever learn 🙂 x

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  2. Karen again you have it! There are good people around the world who have helped you a lot but you have been the one who has moved everything to be able to get such a magnificent tea in a beautiful place with the talk of the writer Barbara Segall. Yes Karen Richard saved you at the last minute with the tent because she is a good person but you moved something in her heart. The Rainbow Hospice must be proud of you. I gather that your Mother is much better because I help in the preparation of the delicious sandwiches: give her fond memories of me. Your oldest daughter is better too? Give her memories and encouragement from me. And to you Karen “Heart of Gold” I wish you the best of the best. Greetings with love from Margarita.

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    • Thank you for your kindness Margarita. I am sure all these things happen because there are good people in the world and I am just lucky to find them. Yes, Mum is much better. And daughter also much much better, am relieved to say. Both have been told to never give me such a fright again ! Thanks again for reading and for your lovely, kind words. greetings to you and your parents. love from Karen and mum xx

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  3. I really think all the people who supplied you with free things might just as well have given money directly to the charity. With what you were giving away you should have made £10,000 not just £1000. All that work. It really doesn’t make any sense.

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    • Interestingly, nearly everyone who attended said they would come to my next fund-raising event. As my first ever fund raiser, I may have made mistakes, but you know what, everyone had a fabulous time. People appreciated the goody bags and put their hands in their pockets to buy raffle tickets, books, and also quite a few popped extra money in the collection tins. Several companies, including Brett Landscaping and Building Products and David Greaves Landscape Design very kindly gave cash donations. I was absolutely thrilled to make £1,000 profit from an afternoon tea and talk, three and a half hours long. Also all the participants learned about the work of the children’s hospice. Gary Farnfield who works at Rainbows gave a short talk and slide show explaining the fabulous facilities there. So the event helped to raise the profile of the hospice, as I had hoped. I fully intend to raise £10,000 over the next few years. This was just the start. Thank you for reading and for getting in touch.

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  4. This is a great post Karen and a lovely story. What a fab amount to raise for such a valuable charity – which must have involved such a great deal of hard work by all, and not least by you, to make it such a success. I may well need a marquee- a modest one – in the future so I shall definitely use Richard. If you ever need cakes again – always happy to oblige.

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    • Thank you Fliss. It was a really fun day and I enjoyed all the planning and preparation. It’s just the start of my fund-raising campaign . I can highly recommend Richard, not just because he helped me out, but also his workers were so quick and efficient. They arrived when they said they would, they did everything they promised, and they were lovely to have at the property. They have all sizes of marquees. Ours was a modest one compared with some of the ones they have available. I will definitely take you up on your offer of cake. I’ll let you know when the next event is. Thanks for reading and for your lovely comments. Love karen xx

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  5. Aren’t people wonderful, Karen? When I read the previous post I noted that the venue had changed and wondered why, but this explains it. Like Christina I was amazed at the quality of the giveaways but pleased to hear people chipped in more for the raffle and with donations. And a thought – would you have raised twice as much if you had doubled the ticket price? For a charity event I am sure people would pay more

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    • Thank you Cathy. Do you think I should have charged more? As it was my first event, I wasn’t sure what to do. It was a testing the water afternoon. I like to think I’ve given good value for money, and certainly nearly everyone who was there has booked to come to the next event, so I hope it was worth it. I think being generous always pays off in the end. When people saw the giveaways we had no trouble selling raffle tickets. I didn’t want to exclude people who could only pay £10 to be honest. When I set the price of the ticket, I didn’t know I was going to get all those freebies. I was just lucky that time. I expect it was a one -off. Anyway, I enjoyed organising it. It wasn’t too much work, doing a little bit every day. I can’t climb mountains or do any other sponsored events because of my poor health. But I can make cakes and sandwiches and so that’s what I did. Thanks for reading. I always value your advice. Best wishes – karen (did you get my e mail?) x

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      • My email probably crossed with this comment as I was catching up this morning! The next event – the ‘as yet unplanned’ next event, or do you have something up your sleeve, Karen? I can see why it was hard to gauge a ticket price (and I dithered endlessly about prices for teas/plants at my open garden!) but it was certainly more than just ‘good value for money’ regardless of the giveaways, and the charity factor gives even greater added value. I certainly think most people would have been willing to pay more than £10

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    • Thank you Anne. I don’t know what we would have done without Richard. I certainly didn’t anticipate. How many people would want to come. I have learned such a lot from my first ever event. I’m all set to do another one after Christmas, but this time I shall keep check of how many are coming! Thanks so much for reading and for getting in touch. Hope you are having a good week. Karen X

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  6. Karen, you are utterly brilliant! You’ve put so much love and warmth into your event that I’m not surprised that so many kind people rallied to your cause – and what a fantastic day you all had. I’m so impressed at your hard work in making it all happen and heartened to read of all the kindness that you discovered. I’m now looking forward to reading about your next event! Caro xx

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    • Thank you Caro! I took the money in yesterday and was so delighted to hear that one person who had been to my event has signed up to work as a volunteer at the hospice. And several others have joined the weekly lottery that is so crucial for providing a regular income. So two bonuses that I hadn’t thought of! I really enjoyed all the planning and prep for the event. Thanks for your very kind words and encouragement. It means a lot to me xx

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