A SERIES of garden events hosted by a Northumberland couple raised more than £3,000 for the NSPCC this summer, despite a last-minute shortage of volunteers.

Patricia Hodgson OBE and her husband Derek hold regular garden events at their home in Stocksfield as part of the National Garden Scheme each year, donating proceeds from cream teas and refreshments to the NSPCC.

Patricia, who also volunteers with the NSPCC’s Schools Service and Childline, had organised a team of volunteers to help during the second of two open days, but at the last minute they were forced to self-isolate.

She said: “We usually have six people helping – taking money, doing the raffle, at the tea point and two in the kitchen doing dishes and one putting cakes on the table, selling plants and answering questions - but we ended up just me and my husband and our friend Val Price helping out trying to do everything.

“I was on the gate and sold more raffle tickets than we’ve ever done before. I also told visitors the more cakes they ate, the more children they’d help, and one man patted his stomach as he left and told me he’d helped 15 children! It was a good test to see the minimum you could manage running the day with, but we were shattered and I don’t know if we could have managed without Val.”

More than 425 people visited the gardens – described by Alan Titchmarsh on a recent visit as “inspirational” – which resulted in a donation totalling £3,010 for the NSPCC and £1,905 for the National Garden Scheme’s health charities, far more than Patricia had expected.

“Most years we raise about £4,000 to split between the NSPCC and the NGS’s charities," she said.

"This year, we had an extra two groups coming and paying for stand-up set, a piano recital and cream teas, so that was an extra £900 I don’t usually get.

“We were baking like mad before the open days, because you never know how many will turn up and you don’t want to run out of cakes and scones. Some people couldn’t care less about the gardens, they just want a cake. It’s the most I’ve ever made for the NSPCC. It’s great what you can do just opening your garden and baking a few cakes.”

To find out how you can support the NSPCC, go to www.nspcc.org.uk