How did WMLG raise £1 million? The story.….........by Yvonne Norton It All Adds Up! 12 boxes tea-bags + 12 boxes tissues = £1 million I can guarantee you never learned that equation in school! When the West Midlands Lupus Group was formed during 1981 (after initially being the Midlands Lupus Group), Peter, husband and WMLG Treasurer, and myself were joined by the three strongest Lupus Supporters you could ever hope to find, my Mum & Dad and Peter’s Mum (all, sadly, no longer with us), with the intention of ‘raising some money to help research into lupus’. What could we do? We decided to keep things simple. Peter and I went to a Cash & Carry, took out a trading card and, tentatively, purchased 12 boxes of ‘good’ tea bags and 12 boxes of man-size tissues. My Mother, bless her, took them, in three trips, to the local Elderly Person’s Day Centre where she told the people there “We’re selling them to help Our Yvonne.” Next thing, we were presented with shopping lists and Peter and I were soon regulars at the Cash & Carry. Then we were asked for birthday cards. So, we went to another warehouse, took out a trading card there and soon had a large assortment of greetings cards to sell. I can’t even begin to think how many items were sold, a lot of the time only making pennies in profit, but we had a big turnover and, as well as raising money for lupus, we were providing a service to elderly people who couldn’t get to the shops. My Mum was never seen without two large shopping bags filled with all sorts of items to sell – toilet rolls were popular items. The goods often didn’t get to the Day Centre as Mum would talk to anyone she saw along the way and, invariably, they ended up buying ‘something for lupus’! Then came sales tables at Summer Fayres. Dad and the two Mums could always be counted on to ‘man a table’ and bring in the money. Other folk began to help, one kind lady started making large cuddly toys for Raffles, sponsored events were organised, son, Kieron, did a series of events, including Bike Rides, Swimming and the London Marathon. When I was asked if lupus would like to take part in a Wheelbarrow Obstacle Race at the hospital Fun Day, I roped in Kieron and family friend, Mick, to take part wearing glitter wigs and with company adverts on the wheelbarrow (in return for donations) and, of course, sponsor forms were put to use. This was one of the silliest events we have taken part in. The Lupus Team didn’t win the Race, but we won the money stakes – the other entrants hadn’t thought of using the event to raise funds! Other events included Sponsored Wheelchair Pushes, several being from Central Birmingham to West Bromwich Albion Football Club with the opportunity to watch the match from a Corporate Box being the Gold at the end of the Rainbow for the group of Pushers, Peter, sons Calvin and Kieron, Mick, other members of Mick’s family and our eldest Grandson, Bradley, who did his first ‘Push’ aged 18 months. Over the years, there has been backing from organisations such as Golf, Rotary and Inner Wheel Clubs, Ladies Groups, Church Groups, Knitting Circles, Tai Chi Groups, you name it and WMLG has probably benefitted from their help. Mayors of several towns have also given their support, including the Mayor of Dudley (who even ran the London Marathon) and the Lord Mayor of Birmingham who included WMLG in almost everything that took place in the city for a whole year (and still continues to send donations). For several years, the Butterfly Ball was a major money-spinner, attended by many well-known celebrities including, one year, practically the whole cast of ‘Casualty’, there were cast members of ‘The Bill’, ‘Coronation Street’, ‘Emmerdale’ and ‘Hollyoaks’ along with sporting personalities and MPs. Since 1998, WMLG has held Golden Bonds for the London Marathon which has resulted in an extra 200 Runners wearing LUPUS UK vests and a lot of money being raised. Alongside the big events, there have been Jumble Sales (out of fashion now), Table Top and Car Boot Sales, Cake Sales, Tombola and, of course, Raffles – where would all the Groups be without Raffles? There can’t be many methods that haven’t been used to raise funds and, from small beginnings, the money gradually rose to the wonderful total of £1 million, all, of course, transferred to LUPUS UK central funding for lupus research/patient care. Over the years, a lot of people have helped to raise this wonderful amount (which is completely separate to monies raised to run the Group) and the West Midlands Lupus Group is extremely grateful for the support of everyone involved. So, what now? The journey to reach the next £million has already begun!