September is the month of Macmillan’s World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, a huge event in the charity’s fundraising calendar. Throughout the country people are baking cakes, hosting coffee mornings, or raising funds for Macmillan in other ways.

The official World’s Biggest Coffee Morning day is an ideal opportunity for us to give you an update on the sales of our own Coffee with Friends tapestry kit, which we designed in 2016 as part of our range of Jolly Red kits and also an ongoing fundraiser for Macmillan. We donate £5 from the sale of each Coffee with Friends kit to Macmillan Cancer support.

Over the years the combined sales of our own coffee mornings and sales of Coffee with Friends and its predecessors Mugs and Hugs and the original Coffee Morning design (sadly these two are no longer available) have raised well in excess of £5,000, thanks to the enthusiasm of Jolly Red stitchers to support a charity that is close to the hearts of so many of us.

Once stitched, some finished Coffee with Friends tapestries are then sent to us in our Somerset workshop for our making up service. Quick to stitch, they make wonderful small cushions when set into a wide fabric border.

Jolly Redders are a very creative and imaginative bunch. Heather adapted her own Coffee with Friends tapestry to make a wonderful teacosy, using embroidery threads and personalising to include her own dogs. How clever!

Very often there is a story attached to the Coffee with Friends orders we receive. We hear of stitchers buying a kit for someone to stitch as they undergo treatment for cancer, or to stitch as a thank you for nurses or for loved ones who may have provided help and support for them.

Our coffee morning tapestries have been stitched and raffled as prizes – we’re thinking especially of the collaboration of Ann and Valerie.

With a tight deadline ahead of her, Valerie ordered a kit and stitched at top speed. Within days of receiving her kit she’d finished it! She brought it into us to make into a cushion for her and Ann to raffle for Macmillan. We used a pale green cotton for the border, red for piping and dark grey backing.

Ann and Valerie raised almost £300 from raffling Valerie’s cushion, selling tickets to friends and family and local members of the RDA (Riding for the Disabled) with whom Ann is involved.

If ever you call us, you will know that our friendly team is about as far away from being an impersonal call centre as you can get. A week never goes by without us hearing from customers about family events and milestones. Jolly Red has been in existence for over a quarter of a century now (!) and over the years we have have become close to so many of you, and we are always humbled to hear of the comfort and pleasure that a tapestry can bring – to make, give and/or receive.

Today we’d like to pay a special tribute to Hilmary Quarmby, who was a a very dear friend of Jolly Red, and who sadly passed away last year. Hilmary was a prolific stitcher and one of the most enthusiastic supporters of our Macmillan fundraisers, having experienced cancer in her own family.

As soon as our newsletter went out with details of our Mugs and Hugs tapestry, Hilmary ordered several tapestries so that she could stitch one for each of her daughters and one for herself.

Hilmary’s cushions made a wonderful collection, in rainbow colours with contrast piping and backing.

When we brought out Coffee with Friends Hilmary once more ordered five kits, changing some of the colours to use up her own yarn mountain as she went, and stitching her daughters’ initials into the designs.

Hilmary’s Coffee with Friends tapestries, complete with initials and dates
Hilmary’s Coffee with Friends cushions with polka dot backings

Hilmary’s enthusiasm extended beyond our Macmillan designs, and she stitched numerous other designs from our range. She had also made many more tapestries before she discovered us.

She was a keen emailer and very good at keeping in touch and me. One day we were very concerned to hear that there’d been a fire in the home she shared with her husband, David. Fortunately nobody was hurt, and firefighters arrived to tackle the blaze and asked her which items had top priority in their rescue efforts.

What should they save – the silver?

“Never mind the silver,” she replied. “Save the tapestries!”

And so it was that a dozen very smoky tapestries arrived at our workshop in need of a little care and attention.

Always keen to embrace the new, Hilmary’s final tapestry was Ba-Ba-Bloom. David and his daughters didn’t know that she had finished her tapestry and it was a huge surprise to them to find that she had completed it.

Last autumn we welcomed David along with Sarah, Jane and their daughters to our workshop to choose a backing fabric for Hilmary’s Ba-Ba-Bloom.

Hilmary also had a Ba-Ba-Birds kit lined up to stitch after Ba-Ba-Bloom, but sadly was never able to stitch that design.

David brought Hilmary’s Ba-Ba-Birds kit with him and his family on their visit and left it with us, suggesting that we might raffle it to other Jolly Redders, to see it go to a good home. We mulled this over for some time. It was a kind idea but somehow it didn’t seem like the right thing to do as we knew that Hilmary always intended Ba-Ba-Bloom and Birds to be a pair.

After much deliberation we asked Tina, one of our wonderful stitchers, to stitch Hilmary’s Ba-Ba-Birds as a gift for David and family. It’s such a joyful design and it was a great pleasure for us to know that Hilmary’s final kit had been finished for her.

Hilmary’s Ba-Ba-Birds tapestry, stitched by Tina

One of the many other designs that Hilmary stitched was Butterflies Sampler for her granddaughter Sadie, pictured here with Jane, Sarah and David on their workshop visit.

Sadie has since completed her own first tapestry, Elephant, which Hilmary had bought for her as she had shown signs of interest in tapestry. Sadie chose the fabric she’d like for her cushion – blue for border, purple for piping and grey for backing.

Side view of Sadie’s Elephant tapestry. Lovely colours!

We feel sure that Hilmary would have applauded both Sadie’s neat stitching and bold fabric colour choices.

We are also grateful to David for the donation he made to Macmillan Cancer Support.

David’s donation, along with another donation from Kathleen in Edinburgh brought our total raised earlier this year for Macmillan to a fabulous £5,710.44. Since then, we’ve made another donation to Macmillan from Coffee with Friends kit sales ‘plus a bit extra’ which – if our maths was correct – should bring the total raised so far to exactly £6,000!

We hope you’ll have a wonderful time if you’re hosting or attending a Macmillan fundraising event today. We’d love to see pictures so please do send them to us by whatever means is best for you.

Happy stitching if you’re working on your own Coffee with Friends tapestry, and if you’re tempted to start one it’s currently on special offer. £5 from every kit sold will be passed on to Macmillan. Let’s see how we can do for next year’s total raised!

With best wishes as always,

Kelly x

PS We’d always like to see pictures of your Coffee with Friends tapestries too. Email to or post them on Jolly Red’s Facebook page. Thank you!