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Everyone should have an Auntie Pat

PUBLISHED: 07:30 30 March 2018

Auntie Pat and her coffee morning gave me the boost I needed. Pictured here with Thalia. Picture submitedl

Auntie Pat and her coffee morning gave me the boost I needed. Pictured here with Thalia. Picture submitedl

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When their love can carry you on...and on...by Jo Malone

Dropping pounds into a charity pot or sponsoring an individual to take on a challenge means, I’m realising, much more than making money for a good cause.

I’ve been raising funds for Unique, (the charity supporting families living with a rare chromosome disorder), for my place in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon.

It’s the money raising, not the training (and that’s hard enough), that has taken over my life.

Mum, and family and friends have been truly amazing, digging really deep for a charity most have never heard of.

I’ve been naming training runs after sponsors, from Mum’s Mile to the Matthews’-making-it-to-eight, and I’ve discovered that thinking of my sponsors when running really does help me forget my aching ankles – at least for a bit.

But getting to the pledged £2000 was hard, until my godmother Auntie Pat stepped in.

When I was little, Auntie Pat was the definition of glamour to me - I was pretty convinced she was a real life Snow White. She had a black velvet skirt, high-necked blouses and dark wavy hair. She wore heels, and lipstick, and perfume and earrings. She and husband Eric went on holidays ski-ing and white water rafting and I was convinced there wasn’t anything – from riding a motorbike to square dancing to cake making and flower arranging – she couldn’t do.

Turns out she’s a fundraiser too. She said she could give £20 to my marathon fund for Unique or spend that on ingredients and host a coffee morning. The morning came and it was clear she very definitely could host a coffee morning!

She’d baked everything from Bailey’s cream sponge to fruit cake, cheese biscuits, scones, ginger fairy cakes, lemon drizzle and flapjacks. Her W.I. friends were there, her neighbours were there (including one who I hadn’t seen since she was one of the brilliant midwives who helped our family through a nightmare time after Keola was born), my mum and sister-in-law were there along with their neighbours and some of my friends were there too. Several people who couldn’t attend sent donations and one lovely friend even sent a very special lemon drizzle cake.

There were people I didn’t know; people I did know, friends I hadn’t seen for years, friends from the girls’ gym I’d seen only the day before, friends who’d driven for hours and friends who had somehow managed to fit the occasion into an already hectic morning.

Everyone mingled, or kept a steady flow of clean cups and coffee, or did both. There was my boss, who managed to talk gun dogs with an anti-hunting friend, Pat’s husband Eric who can almost rival my mother in the proud grandparent stakes and my youngest Thalia rearranging anything and everything within reach.

I think the gathering means I am forgiven for writing that I really couldn’t bear Daniel O’Donnell, whose show Auntie Pat – and hundreds of other fans – very much enjoyed at the Theatre Royal many years ago. She pointed out in a letter printed in the EDP at the time – signing it from Jo’s Auntie Pat - that I wasn’t exactly his target audience and sending me to review him wasn’t a great idea.

My review and her subsequent letter apparently created a few awkward family moments, I say apparently because I spend most of my life digging various holes and putting my foot in it so it becomes difficult to distinguish what is actually awkward and what is just a bit ‘oops’.

However it is rather pleasant to feel all is forgiven.

But what moved me, even more than the phenomenal £300+ pounds raised at the coffee morning, was the support. These people had turned out for a cause they didn’t know, to support Auntie Pat and me, to tell me I could do this marathon and that they were behind me.

Thinking of them giving their time and cash definitely got me through the last really tough miles of the Wymondham20 last weekend.

I just need that love to lift me through another seven miles…

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