KETTLES went into overdrive as the county hosted more than 1,500 of the Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Mornings yesterday.

Now in its 23rd year, The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is cancer charity Macmillan’s main fundraiser.

Last year, 1,299 events took place across Oxfordshire, raising more than £138,000.

This year it is hoped 1,500 hosts will have raised more than £160,000 for Macmillan Cancer Support, which funds community nurses and family support workers, and builds cancer treatment centres.

Among those dishing up tea and treats were sisters-in-law Cath Steer and Kate Wrighton, from Fritwell.

The women help to run Wrighton’s Village Shop in the village and have held coffee mornings for eight years – even when Kate, 50, was herself diagnosed with cancer.

She explained: “We started holding coffee mornings after my father-in-law Jim Wrighton died of cancer in 2003 and because he was such an important part of our community, local people rallied round and supported it.

“Then, in June 2008, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

“It was a terrible shock, and the coffee morning became even more significant for us.”

Mrs Wrighton underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the Churchill Hospital.

She said: “A Macmillan nurse was available to me from the start. “I knew I could ring her any time I needed, although I was lucky to have an amazing support from my family.”

Mrs Wrighton is due to have her last scan, which she is hoping will declare her free of cancer, on October 31. Her sister-in-law, Cath Steer, also 50, said: “Helping Macmillan by holding a coffee morning is something Kate and I love doing – a way of giving something back. We usually raise £300 a year.

“This year we are starting early with bacon baps at the shop from 7.30am to 12pm, followed by a luxury tea with fizz for those who want it at the village hall from 3pm-5pm.

“We have all been baking like mad and as always have had lots of lovely cakes donated by local businesses.”

Offering customers a coffee, biscuit and a boa constrictor was Hayley Smith, owner of Not Just a Barber in Atkyns Road, Wood Farm, Oxford.

Mrs Smith, 30, said: “Before setting up this new hairdressing business seven weeks ago, I worked at the Oxford Cancer Centre at the Churchill Hospital, fitting ladies who had lost their hair through cancer treatment with wigs.

“Having seen what they go through, I wanted to do all I could for Macmillan and this is my third coffee morning, but my first in my new shop.

“We are having a raffle, a juggler and also snakes and spiders visiting from Evolution Reptiles nearby and I hope people will give generously to this great charity.”

The Oxford Mail and The Oxford Times went from news to brews as staff backed the fundraiser for a second year.

Staff in the advertising department sold colleagues hot drinks and homemade cakes and also ran a Guess How Many Coffee Beans are in the Jar contest at the offices in Osney Mead, Oxford.

Also holding a coffee morning were staff at printing firm Webmart in Wedgwood Road, Bicester, who raised £483 with the help of workers from nearby offices. Residents held a gathering at Meadowbrook flats, in Stowford Road, for coffee and cakes.