It's a Somerset institution that draws people wanting a good night in from as far away as the United States and Denmark. In the process, the organiser has become a fabulous fancy dress performer.
Hundreds of people have attended Claire Ayshford-Smy’s virtual quiz nights for the ME Association since she launched them on Zoom during the first lockdown last year.
They are literally the gift that keeps on giving!
“They started off weekly, then became more often and we get between 25 and 30 teams coming along to each. That's up to 70 people a time and we've held 40 so far”, said quiz setter Claire, from Taunton.
“It started off as friends and family and then the circle widened. Nowadays, it’s not unusual for friends of friends to turn up – people I’ve never met before.”
“And what’s taken me completely by surprise is that people have been enjoying themselves so much that they're quite happy to keep on donating to the charity.”
There's also been a marvellous charity spin-off from the quiz nights. Ja Bowie, the husband of one of Claire's oldest friends, has volunteered to cycle from Land's End to John o'Groats for the MEA in May this year.
Claire sets a theme for each quiz and lots of people dress up to it. She herself has gone from wearer of pretty hats and bonnets to full-scale costume and make-up transformations.
Claire was an English teacher who had to give up work after she became ill. She arranges virtual quizzes in the daytime for daughters 11-year-old Sophie and Natalie (13) and their classmates. The quizzes help the children feel less isolated when school’s out – as it is quite often these days.
As Claire says on her fundraising page: “I know all about isolation! For over three years I have been living with M.E., a debilitating condition that affects every aspect of my (and therefore my children's) life. I am no longer able to work, I cannot carry out every-day tasks and I feel very unwell much of the time.
“Life as I know it has completely changed. Those of you who know me, know that I am a sociable, busy, creative, intelligent, organised, fun person. Thank goodness, I am also someone with a sense of humour!
“This has helped me get through the last three years and come to terms (most of the time) with the fact that my life will never be the same again.”
Thank you for much for your evergreen support, Claire! It’s fabulous being able to count on you.
To support Claire’s fundraiser, and read some tributes from people who’ve enjoyed her quiz nights, please visit Claire's fundraising page.
The ME Association
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We are a national charity working hard to make the UK a better place for people whose lives have been devastated by an often-misunderstood neurological disease.
If you would like to support our efforts and ensure we are able to inform, support, campaign, and invest in biomedical research, then please donate today.
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ME Association Registered Charity Number 801279