This is the 24th year that Catherine will be popping on her apron and hosting an Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea. In this time, she’s raised over $400,000 for Cancer Council’s research, prevention and support services, with the help of her good friend Nancy.
“Back then I loved to catch up with girlfriends for a coffee or morning tea,” said Catherine. “Then my mum said to me, ‘you’re always getting together with your girlfriends. Why don’t you do this?’
“I had an aunt and an uncle who’d passed away from cancer. I thought, ‘Why not?’ I invited half a dozen girlfriends over and we had a lovely morning and banked $75.”
The next year, Catherine’s mother was diagnosed with bowel cancer. “That was my motivation to do it again. So I did,” she shared. “This time all my girlfriends brought a girlfriend, so the numbers increased. The same thing happened the year after, and the year after that. It got to a point where I thought ‘I actually can’t do this in my home anymore’.”
That’s when Catherine joined forces with Nancy, whose family happened to own a reception venue. “She said it doesn’t matter if you have 10 or 100 people there, we’d love to help.”
Two decades later, Catherine and Nancy’s event has grown in ways they never thought possible.
“Each year new people hear about it,” said Catherine. “Last year we were up to 290 at the venue. On our 20th year, we even hosted a ball.
“It’s a wonderful feeling, being a host. I t’s the most rewarding thing you can ever do. You’re making a difference in your own small way. For me, I want to make people aware of the work of Cancer Council and the services they have.”
Catherine soon understood firsthand how cancer impacts your life when she too was given the shock diagnosis and consequently reached out to Cancer Council herself.
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years back and I would often go to them for information. I’ve also referred people to their support line, and told them about Cancer Council’s financial support. A friend of mine was in a financial bind, so I made them aware of that service.”
For Catherine, Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea is also about bringing the community together for support and to actually talk about cancer.
“If you know someone who is affected you could say, ‘well come to this morning tea and you’ll just get an awareness of what’s going on and how many people are there to help you get through your journey. Women have actually come up to me and said ‘thank you, I needed to be here today’.”
Catherine’s top tips for fellow hosts
- Don’t go it alone! If others offer to help, accept it. Many hands make light work and allowing people to volunteer their time gives them another way of supporting your cause.
- Hold a raffle with a few good quality prizes. People are more inclined to buy tickets when they’ve got a chance to win a prize.
Enjoy yourself! If you’re enjoying it, your guests will enjoy it.