Mum’s appeal for foodie fundraiser after her big barbecue party in Thame

Mum Clare, Josh, Kate Bradley, one of Josh's long term carers and Alison Stone from the hospice.
Mum Clare, Josh, Kate Bradley, one of Josh's long term carers and Alison Stone from the hospice.

A mum whose young son has brain damage is appealing for other people to host a dining fundraiser for a children’s hospice.

Clare Lawson, from Thame, raised £664 from her ‘Dine at Mine’ meal for Helen & Douglas House when she invited 80 people to her home on Saturday, August 11.

Clare’s five-year-old son Josh, who has brain damage caused by lack of oxygen at birth, has been visiting the hospice for respite care since 2013.

Clare is appealing for people to swap a meal out for a meal in, with their guests donating what they would have spent on a meal to Helen & Douglas House, at the event planned for Saturday, October 13.

Clare holds a fundraising mini festival called ‘Mathias-fest’ every year in aid of Helen & Douglas House and this year she made it into a Dine at Mine meal for 80 friends and family in a marquee in the garden and a bar in the garage, with five families camping overnight.

Some guests were local including Josh’s special friends from sensory groups as well as friends from Essex, Wales and Bristol.

They had a barbecue running all afternoon, with lots of garden games, a blow up pool and bouncy castle - but the main fundraiser this year was their tea-time pizza making.

They borrowed a pizza oven from some friends and provided dough and toppings and then everyone created their pizzas for a donation, with the event running over five hours. Friends also created three home brew beer barrels, which brought in more donations.

You can choose what time of day to hold your ‘Dine at Mine’ meal – breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea or dinner and whether to invite friends, family or work colleagues.

It could be a small gathering at your house for lunch, a girls’ night with beauty treatments or a black tie dinner at your village hall. You can prepare the meal yourself or ask your guests to bring a dish.

The home-from-home environment at Helen & Douglas House helps families create precious memories with their children.

Clare said: ‘Dine at Mine’ is a great way to fundraise. It gets friends and family together, enjoying a good catch up while helping raise funds and awareness for such an amazing cause.

“Helen & Douglas House has been such a massive support for Josh and us as a family. The outreach nurses and doctors have provided invaluable emotional and medical guidance, as they view Josh as a whole person, not just his condition, and know him and our family so well. There are very few places where Josh and his young brothers, Tom and Jake, can come and play together, where they all have fun - all three boys love spending time at Helen & Douglas House. The charity also provides much needed respite so that we can get some rest and spend quality time with Josh’s siblings.”

Lauren Kemp, from Helen & Douglas House, said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to Clare for organising a ‘Dine at Mine’ meal and all her guests who were so generous, which means we can be there for families like hers to provide respite, symptom control and end-of-life care. As a charity we need to raise £3m every year and we cannot do this without supporters holding fundraising events like ‘Dine at Mine’.”

For more details and to download a fundraising pack visit or call 01865 799166.