Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

I wouldn’t normally do it…

There are a lot of things I definitely wouldn’t do.  Lock myself away with 300 poisonous spiders.  Watch 238 episodes of ‘Friends’ back to back.  Wear the same dress every day for a year.  But all of these things have been done, and for the best of reasons.  To raise money for charity.

Some of the things that people do for charity are just downright painful.  Take the sheriff in South Carolina, who volunteered to be tasered every time $1,000 was raised for his chosen charity.  Or the students who played the same track, non-stop over the p.a. system on  campus until they reached their target for a new cafe and arts centre.  (I like this one because it brings back memories of when I was a student.  The juke box in the coffee bar got stuck and whatever the record choice, the same track was played.  After two weeks of ‘Je t’aime … moi non plus’ I would have paid good money to make it all stop too!)

So why am I telling you all this?  Because it makes me look sane in comparison.  This summer I didn’t get tasered or run across London Bridge dressed as a caterpillar.  I helped make a High Street out of cardboard.

There was some method to our madness.  Making a model of a local high street, as it was 100 years ago, was designed as a community project, which would be interesting and fun.  And to tell you the truth it was fun.  We checked out the census for 1911, so we knew who lived in all of the houses and shops.  We found old photos which told us what the street looked like, and old maps which gave the shape and position of each building.

Then came the challenging part.  Armed with a very large stack of super-thick card, about a gallon of glue, rubber bands, metal rulers, heavy duty snippers and a disproportionate sense of optimism, a small band of volunteers set out to make over a hundred shops and houses.

Here’s what we did:-

Village 2

When they were finished, the houses were surprisingly sturdy.  We painted boards, to indicate the roads, pavements and gardens, and made tiny trees and fences.  We gave the models a trial outing at Christmas, and then on the hottest day of this summer we set our model village up in the shade of a large awning, and wondered what people would think of us.

Village1Some folks clearly thought we were mad.  But lots of people really liked the models, and were interested in the history behind them.  Big sigh of relief!

Would I do it again?  Well, if I’d known the amount of work it all entailed, I probably wouldn’t have done it the first time.  But the research was fascinating, as was making something entirely from scratch.  And sometimes, doing something you wouldn’t normally dream of doing, in support of a good cause, can be oddly satisfying.

So ladies, make me feel better!  Tell me about the crazy things you’ve done, or seen being done for charity!

Annie x


16 thoughts on “I wouldn’t normally do it…”

  1. What a fantastic project! I love it and it looks great. There do seem to be an abundance of things you can do for charity, but I’ll be honest and say for me – I don’t need to walk a mile or do whatever required. When I support a cause, I do the most realistic thing of all – I get out my check book and write out a check.

    I do understand how these eye catching antics (not yours but the spiders and taser thingies) draw attention to a cause though, and if that’s what it takes to raise money – more power to them!

    Love your little cardboard town. 🙂 You all must be thrilled with the results.

    1. Thank you Lynne! We had a lot of fun doing it 🙂

      I do agree with you, that the best thing we can do to help the charities we support is to open our cheque books. Without all of the hard work that went into earning the £s and $s donated to charity, all the crazy antics lose their value.

  2. Annie,
    I think it was a really neat project. Beautifully done. I love history so I would have enjoyed being a part of something like that but it always takes more time than we expect. I’m not big on sitting on top of cars or buildings forever to raise money. Eating fish, bugs or other such gross stuff. I like what you did much better!

    1. Thank you Susan! The history part was fascinating, particularly as it was possible to see the shops and houses as they are now. Only a few of the buildings that we modeled remain, but it’s possible to stand on the High Street and see where the others would have been. Definitely more my thing than eating fish and bugs, too!

  3. That is super-cool, Annie!
    Alas, like Lynne, I’m prepared to give to charity but not “sweat” for it if you know what I mean :-/
    but we have a well known Aussie actor here at the moment who is riding a unicycle around half of Australia to raise money for breast cancer of which his sister is dying.
    Would I do that? No. I’m too old, fat, lazy and chicken to be honest. But he’s raising a boatload of money so more power to him! And I’m prepared to support him with my cheque book!

    1. Thanks Amy! I’m with you on the “sweat” – one of the great things about little houses is that you can make them while you’re sitting down. (As long as you keep the glass of wine for after you’ve finished cutting and gluing 🙂 )

      Riding a unicycle around half of Australia – wow what an undertaking! I’ve just been staring in disbelief at the route he’s taking and like you, I’m inspired to reach for my chequebook.

  4. Annie, what a brilliant job you’ve done of making that model! And to have researched the history behind all those shops and houses must have been fascinating. I do hope it’s been put somewhere safe and not disbanded after all your efforts.
    I have just got back from a cruise round the Baltic and Royal Caribbean, the cruise line, is supporting the Make a Wish foundation that aims to grant the wishes of terminally ill children. They held a mile long deck walk to raise funds while we were on board and I took part – Yes, I even have the T-shirt to prove it! I don’t usually do anything, just get out my purse or cheque book, but I couldn’t resist giving it a go. It was great fun and we all raised $1500 as well. Bonus!
    So no it wasn’t anything crazy but I would take part again in something like that.


    1. Jennifer, thank you, and what fun thing to do. And $1500 for such a great charity! You can wear that T-shirt with pride 🙂

      Our models are safely stored away in boxes now, in the loft, at the Care Home for the Elderly which we did them for. I have a feeling they’ll be out again sometime soon, with a few additions and modifications 🙂

  5. What a wonderful project. The results are beautiful. I’m glad that they are being saved. Hopefully the buildings will be on display often.

    I guess the two most known Canadians who did big things for their causes were Terry Fox and Rick Hansen.

    Terry Fox, an amputee set off to run from coast to coast for Cancer research. Sadly his cancer came back and he could not finish the run. However, there is now an annual Terry Fox Run in a lot of Canadians places.

    Rick Hansen suffered a spinal cord injury and he rode his wheel chair across Canada to raise awareness of that condition.

    1. Kaelee, thank you! Wow, what an inspiration those two Canadians are – coast to coast in the UK would be beyond me, but coast to coast in Canada is just staggering! How great that even though Terry Fox couldn’t complete his run, there are so many others now running in his name.

      Lovely to hear from you!

    1. Thank you Fiona! I’ve got to say that our biggest moment was when we lay all the houses out on the boards and found that our measurements had been (more or less) correct and – big sigh of relief – they all fitted 🙂

  6. Annie, that’s so gorgeous! You clever people! And the research that must have been down for the old streetscape (especially the use of the census) really appeals to the genealogist in me! I hope you raised heaps of money for your good cause.

    1. Thanks, Sharon! Yes, putting all the census info together was fascinating. There was a really broad mix of people and trades – and there were a surprising number of women running their own businesses, some of which were obviously very successful. I have to admit, though, to having to be restrained by the others at times in the name of historical accuracy. The temptation to add on an extra couple of rooms for large families living in tiny cottages and apartments was almost irresistible 🙂 The models were part of a fun afternoon for the Home, which was a great success!

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