Last year, we told readers how in 1997 Joyce Rothschild received the news everyone dreads; a diagnosis of aggressive breast cancer. It really was the last news a 40 year old mum of two boys aged five and seven wanted to hear, especially as she had just started a new job.
Even during nine months of gruelling chemotherapy, Joyce’s positive attitude on life shone through. Along with a mastectomy, she also had to endure the removal of lymph nodes, as the hospital didn’t have the equipment necessary to measure the spread of cancer. As if raising her children wasn’t enough during this incredibly tough time, she also set her sights on raising money towards this additional piece of equipment.
And so, her annual quiz was born, and since its inception, has now topped £250,000 in total donations. The first year raised over £2,000 and last year, the quiz brought in £22,663, far more than the couple of hundred pounds she originally intended to raise and enough to pay for the much-needed equipment many times over.
The early years
Joyce’s idea for raising money was simple, but effective. In the run up to the festive season, she created a quiz sheet and asked for a donation. Doing it at this time of year made most sense as people tend to be a little more generous and sometimes want to have something to do other than eating, drinking and watching TV. The quiz can be completed by one person or as a group making it an ideal festive activity.
A close friend, Yasmi Roberts, was keen to help and over a quarter of a century later is still involved each year. In a stroke of luck, Yasmi used to work at Barclays Bank who for the first couple of years agreed to match the funds that were raised. Since then, the quiz has gone from strength to strength and the internet has made it much easier to administer.
A different quiz theme each year
Each year, a hundred questions are set around a theme, for example the very first quiz was all about numbers. Since then, themes have included everything from countries ending with an ‘a’, animals, plants and even threesomes! No, not that sort of threesome, it’s all great family fun – the ‘threesome’ being the connection between three words. This year’s quiz has a shape theme, all answers are to do with shapes, so it was ‘back to SQUARE one’ when setting the questions!
Over the years, people have asked if they can use her quizzes, so Joyce came up with an ingenious way of raising yet more money by producing two books, available on Amazon, with all proceeds going to Macmillan. Simply search for Joyce’s Quiz – the book is available both as a paperback and a Kindle version.
As soon as people receive Joyce’s reminder email, it’s time to join in the fun once again. It attracts a wide range of participants, from people who take it very seriously to those who are more casual and are simply delighted to have a fun way to support a charity. The suggested donation to enter the quiz is £3. Many people give more than this, especially if they’ve distributed the quiz around their friends and family, encouraging everyone to give a donation.
Five prizes are on offer – a top prize of £35, a second prize of £20 along with three prizes of a £10 Marks and Spencer voucher for anyone sending back the quiz. The closing date for this year’s quiz is 9 January 2024 and the answers are announced a week later when all entries have been checked.
Where the money goes
At first, the money raised went locally to the Oasis Cancer Centre at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. As the quiz grew in popularity, money began to come from all areas of the country (and even internationally), so Joyce thought it only fair to give the money to a charity with a wider reach, so she chose Macmillan Cancer Support. Sadly, Joyce has first-hand experience of Macmillan’s wonderful work when they supported her late father during his battle with cancer. She was incredibly grateful for the practical support they offered during those dark days.
There seems to be no stopping Joyce who was in fine fettle when we were in contact. Last year, she’d just returned from a dream trip to Bhutan and this year she was about to embark on a journey to Mauritius and Madagascar! Even on the other side of the world, her thoughts are still with the quiz which she says has become like an additional member of her family. It certainly seems to have a life of its own!
It’s often a surprise when people find out the quiz hasn’t got a huge team behind it. Joyce is happy to go on running the quiz for as long as she can and is able to come up with some new ideas. She is always hugely grateful to everyone who plays a part in keeping the quiz going in whatever way they can, and most especially to anyone who makes a donation.
How to get involved
The quiz can be downloaded from the website. You’ll also find a link to the JustGiving page where UK taxpayers can increase their donation through the Gift Aid scheme. The quiz itself is free to download so everyone can join in the fun, but of course, donations are always very welcome.