The curtain is to come down this Friday (30th July) on one of the most joyous events in our fundraising calendar.
After 70 performances and with great reluctance, Claire Ayshford Smy will be closing her weekly online quiz night for the ME Association.
It’s an event which has seen her set a different theme for each night, dress up brilliantly in character and keep dozens of quizzers doubled up with laughter.
Week after week, they came back for more – many bringing new friends and relations with them.
“I set up the quiz in March 2020 to give people something fun to do during the first lockdown, to keep people connected and to give us all a bit of structure. I never imagined it would still be going, 70 weeks later!,” she said from her home in Taunton, Somerset.
Claire was a school teacher before the M.E. Monster forced her to give up work three years ago.
“Unfortunately, despite how it may appear on Quiz Night, I struggle with day-to-day life in many ways and, although the quiz has been incredibly good for me in lots of respects, it’s not something I thought I would be able to do for ever.
There was also an amazing spin-off – when Jason Bowie cycled all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats with his brother Jess to raise money for the MEA. Jason had been so impressed by the cut of Claire’s quiz-night jib that he felt he also had to do something to help us. His wife, Catherine – a close friend of Claire – drove the back-up car.
Claire has raised over £3,000. Jason, from Wellington in Somerset, almost matched that – collecting £2,500. Their efforts have been amazing and we are incredibly grateful to all those who supported them.
“Raising so much money has filled me with joy and the fact that it led to Jason raising so much for the MEA too, has made me feel very proud of what the quiz has achieved,”
The quiz night never stopped, even though Claire has had three M.E. relapses since it started – the worst one, lasting three and a half months, coming after her first Covid jab.
“I have found that I am not at the same level I was prior to the vaccination and that the M.E. has worsened and my baseline is lower, meaning I am able to do much less than I could at the start of the year. This is very frustrating and upsetting, but I know that I must cut back on what I try to do and look after myself as best I can.”
This Friday, the quiz night theme will be one Massive Party! If you'd still like to support Claire's fundraising, please visit her JustGiving page and leave a donation.
Tony Britton, Fundraising and PR Manager, ME Association