The perfect birthday present

Me and Sally at the party with our daughters Jessica and Hannah


1977: a momentous year that saw Queen Elizabeth II celebrating 25 years on the throne, Elvis Presley dying aged only 42, the first Star Wars film released at the cinema earning a total of $775 million worldwide, and Virginia Wade winning the Ladies Singles’ title at Wimbledon 4–6, 6–3, 6–1 (right).

And on 4 June that year, in a hospital in Leamington Spa, I was born, weighing in at 8lbs.

Four days later, 81 miles away in Guildford, a baby girl called Sally arrived into the world and, 24 years later, we became husband and wife!

Do numbers really matter?

Well, we decided reaching the big 40 was significant enough to celebrate with a birthday party at our house.

When we started to plan the event and wrote the invitations, we realised how blessed we are to be surrounded by fantastic family and friends, and that we have so many good things in life and really didn’t need more.

We decided straightaway that we should state on the invitation that we didn’t want presents, but to instead invite people to give a donation to charity instead.

And who better than Viva?

I’m proud to work as communications manager at Viva. Millions upon millions of children live in dire situations of poverty and abuse each day, but Viva is attempting to tackle the root causes of their problems by mobilising churches and organisations in a city to work together strategically, and so help as many children as possible.

It’s really exciting to hear first-hand about the lasting change we are making in the lives of children and their families across the world – and my role here is to inspire others too.

The day of our party arrived and everything looked splendid – food prepared, drinks at the ready, marquees erected, balloons and banners put up, a fun quiz set out around the garden, and toys, games and picnic rugs laid out. The sun was out too (just) and thankfully it was dry.

All we needed was people – and thankfully, they came! It was heart-warming to have 60 close family and friends come and join the fun: to catch up with people we hadn’t seen for a while and to watch children of all ages play together.

As the afternoon went on, there were cupcakes for everyone and a presentation of an ode from our family to Sally and me.

My sister Laura, daughter Jessica and in-laws Alan and Morna during their ode performance to us!

During the afternoon, I spotted the shoebox I’d left for donations to Viva slowly fill up with loose cash and Gift Aid envelopes. There were leaflets and magazines available to anyone who wanted to know more.

It was fantastic to find out that our birthday bash had raised £185 (not including Gift Aid) for Viva, and I’m grateful to those who gave.

I think birthdays are an ideal opportunity to fundraise for your favourite charity because your nearest and dearest will show their appreciation for you by making a donation on your behalf. With organising a collection at a party it ensures you give the opportunity for as many people to give as possible.

It makes you feel good too, and ensures your home doesn’t clutter up with too many well-meaning and probably lovely gifts, but that you probably could live without.

So, whatever birthday you’re celebrating – and it doesn’t have to a big one – why not consider using the occasion to raise some money for Viva, and help children around the world look forward to their next birthday with greater joy and hope.

Speak to Liz on 01865 811660 or email to find out more.

Or if you’re in Hong Kong, email Rachael at


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