Lockdown quiz night marks up a year of pulling in happy crowds for the MEA

February 19, 2021


A weekly charity quiz night which was launched online for the ME Association in Taunton, Somerset, during the first national lockdown will notch up its first anniversary on Friday, 26 March.

Claire Ayshford Smy

Quizmaster Claire Ayshford Smy raises a laugh with a different costume change each week and encourages everyone taking part to do the same. Since it began, the event has raised almost £2,000 for the MEA.

“They started off weekly and then became more often. We get between 25 and 30 teams coming along to each of them – that’s up to 70 people a time and we’ve held about 50 so far”, said Claire, who certainly looked the part for Valentine’s Day this week.

Claire, a mother-of-two who taught English before she became ill, said: “It started off just for 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.”

“What’s taken me completely by surprise is that players have been enjoying themselves so much that they keep coming back and donating to the charity.”

Extra daytime quizzes also help daughters Sophie (11) and 13-year-old Natalie keep in touch with their classmates. They help the children feel less isolated when school’s out – as it is quite often these days.

Who'd believe it? This was Claire this week as a Valentine Day's diva.

“I know all about isolation!” added Claire. “I have been living with M.E. for over three years. It’s a debilitating condition that affects every aspect of our lives. I am no longer able to work. I cannot carry out every-day tasks and I feel very unwell much of the time.

“I put on a brave face for the quizzes but need to rest up before every one to find the energy for it. It takes a lot out of me but it’s so worthwhile. It makes me feel alive and buzzing for a little while each week”

ME Association fundraiser Tony Britton commented: “This quiz night is the gift that keeps on giving. We’re so pleased to have Claire’s continuing support.

“One enormous spin-off is that relatives of one of Claire’s best friends, Catherine Bowie from Wellington, have agreed to take on the challenge of cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats for the charity in May.

“Covid restrictions permitting, the Bowie Bothers – Jason and Jesse – aim to complete the LEJOG in 12 days during the annual ME Awareness Week.”

To support Claire’s fundraiser, please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/c-ayshford-smy

The ME Association

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