PEOPLE across Oxfordshire are being asked to get out their tea cups and start baking cakes and biscuits for a massive fundraising tea party.

East Oxford hospice charity Helen and Douglas House, in Magdalen Road, is relaunching its Tea at 3 campaign in a bid to raise £25,000 for the cause.

It is the fifth time the charity has asked its supporters to put the kettle on for one of the world's biggest tea parties, which will this year be held over the weekend of Friday, June 6, to Sunday, June 8.

Community fundraiser Ruth Harrison said: "Tea at 3 is always a very popular event, as it can be really simple or very elaborate.

"We have lots of fun things in the fundraisers pack that anyone can send for, everything you need to get your event going."

The amount raised at Tea at 3 is going up every year, with £12,000 raised in 2006, followed by £17,400 in 2007, enough to pay for a care worker for a year.

If the charity hits its target of £25,000, it will pay for a care worker for 18 months.

To make the idea of the tea party that bit more sweet, fundraisers have come up with a novel way of giving tea party hosts and hostesses inspiration.

While people are planning their parties, they can go online to and in return for a donation they will be given a recipe for a delicious chocolate cake.

David Stroud, head chef at the hospices, has come up with a decadent dark chocolate extravaganza cake which people can then make and dish up at their parties.

Mr Stroud, who worked on cruise ships and as a private chef on the Falkland Islands before taking up his post at Helen and Douglas House nearly four years ago, said: "My cakes seem to go down really well with everyone here.

"I thought it would be a great way of sharing one of my secret recipes, as well as raising money for the houses."

The charity's Tea at 3 fundraising packs contain everything from invitations and posters to stickers and balloons, to get the parties started.

Last year 100 fundraising packs were sent out and people arranged everything from tea with neighbours, to tea on the village green, teddy bear picnics and garden parties.

Several tea parties raised more than £100 and a few raised more than £1,000.

To get a fundraising pack, you can call Helen and Douglas House on 01865 799150 or email fundraising@helenanddouglas And SoTo Bed, in St Clement's Street, Oxford, raised £5,600 for Helen and Douglas House with a 10th anniversary raffle.

The winner of the main raffle prize, a bedstead and mattress worth £4,000, donated the bed to the family room at Helen and Douglas House.