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Every year since the WIMM opened it has held a series of annual fund-raising events, supporting a diverse range of charities. Initially established over 20 years ago to fund research into sudden infant death cot syndrome, subsequent charities have included Helen and Douglas House in Oxford, and also Help for Heroes. This year, the Institute has chosen to support the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance, and fundraising is well underway.

Each year, the fundraising begins with an on-going plant sale, followed on by second hand book, CD, cake and toy stalls, a raffle and bottle table finishing with a quiz evening that has become a highlight of the WIMM social calendar. Keen gardeners in the Institute have begun bringing in a diverse array of lush greenery for sale, with the first vegetable plants being snapped up and raising nearly £40 in less than a week.

Over the past 25 years the WIMM has raised over £30,000 for good causes in the UK and abroad. In many cases, the charities supported have been small and local to Oxford. This year’s charity, the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance, has to raise over £100,000 a year to keep the air ambulance flying. 40% of their missions are to road traffic accidents, and each mission on average costs £2,500.

All the events allow staff and students to meet and exchange ideas, often revealing a love of gardening or interest in cooking. New friendships are made and recipes exchanged, with keener gardeners bringing unusual herbs and vegetables for others to try, and tempting other staff and students to perhaps try their hand in the garden for the first time. Both cooking and gardening events also highlight the international nature of the WIMM, where those from outside the UK are often introduced to plants and recipes they may not have encountered back home, and in turn show the Brits what they might be missing out on elsewhere.

And the icing on the cake (or the tomato on the vine) is that it all raises money for both local and national charities that are desperately in need of support. The current total raised from the plant and book sales is already at £750, and with teams eagerly swotting up for the annual quiz next week on Wednesday 9th July, that total is set to keep on rising. Watch this space…