Monday, 7 April 2014

99th Garrison attends Scarborough's Si Fi convention - 6th April, 2014

The 99th Garrison was asked by the organisers of Scarborough’s first ever si fi convention to attend their event on Saturday and Sunday, 5th & 6th April, 2014.  I agreed to do this one on the Sunday as I quite fancied a day by the seaside – even if it did mean a two and half hour drive each way and getting up just after 5:00am!
The view from outside the venue when I arrived
I was first to arrive at the venue which was right by the sea front and waited for the others to arrive.  I was soon joined by Paul, Mike and Jo from Scarborough and then by Nigel and Jim from the North East.  We were also joined by another Paul in the afternoon.

The event took place at The Spa in Scarborough and was quite a large venue with lots of space.  The cast of Red Dwarf was there and some actors from Star Wars [Chris Bunn, Ken Coombs, Marolyn Turk, Stephanie English, Nick Joseph, Salo Gardner and John Simpkin] and also Colin Baker and Kai Owen. 

We were given a changing room as our base for the day and were ready to go out at about 10:15am.  There was a steady influx of people into the event but I think that it is fair to say that of the two days, Saturday had been the busier day.

We posed for photos with the general public and also for local press and photographers, had a break for lunch and then trooped again until about 3:45 pm.  We also had our photographs taken with all of the Star Wars actors who were then.  Nigel was quite miffed with himself for not bringing his Star Wars poster with him to add their signatures to his already quite impressive collection of signatures from the Star Wars cast.

I decided that having driven all that way, I could not leave the seaside without having a 99 ice cream, so me and Nigel found the nearest Ice Cream shop and bought a couple of 99s and took a selfie of two members of the 99th Garrison having a 99!

I tried Cookies and Cream flavoured ice cream... it was lovely! :-) 

I left not long after that and made the long journey back home where I got to at about 6:45pm - suitably tired.

All in all, not the busiest of events and certainly not a very profitable one in terms of the amount that we collected for Dreamflight as we only raised £22.97.  The issue that we are starting to see with our attendance and charity collections at conventions is that having paid their entrance fee into the event, people don’t seem to want to pay for their photo with us - something that we may have to change our tactics on for future events and maybe ask the event organisers/promoters to make a donation instead.
Playing a game of..... Star Wars!  in the Gaming Area.
Was great to see Nigel and Jim from the North East and to meet Paul, Mike, Paul and Jo from Scarborough.  Thanks All.  Also thanks to Andy for inviting us and organising the changing room and parking.

Monday, 24 February 2014

50th Birthday Party in Marlow.

The 99th Garrison and the MK Garrison was asked to attend a birthday party for Chris Hughes [Chris Hughes Brand Events Limited] at Wycombe Air Park, Booker, Marlow in Buckinghamshire on Saturday, 22nd February, 2014.
On duty with the host
I have to confess I did not know a great deal about this event before I got there other than the location and that it was a 50th birthday party where we would be providing "security" at a mock airport departure lounge.  It was obviously an evening do but we needed to be there fairly early in order to get a feel for the location and be instructed on our role etc for the evening. I therefore arrived at the venue for about 4:30pm and wow!!!
Ready for action - security/scanning detail
I was joined at this event by Robin from the MKG [who popped his trooping cherry as this was his first troop], John from the MKG, Andy and Jeff who is a member of both the MKG and the 99th. We were meant to be joined by Julia and Mark from the MKG too but sadly their car broke down on the motorway on their way to the event and could not be repaired on location.  They were missed... would have been good to see them as I haven't seen them since last February!  How time flies!!
The mid-life crisis crew! They enjoyed their work!!
The party was in a hangar at the air field.  To get into the party who had to go through a police riot van which was parked right outside the door into the hangar.  Once inside it was all red carpet to the cloakroom area and then you were taken through a mock corridor typical of what you see to departure lounges at airports.  A group of teenage girls were hired for "fans" who's role it was to scream [as fans do] partway through this corridor.  Lookalikes were also hired [Johnny Depp and Kate Middleton].  They also had pretend paparazzi. 
With Johnny Depp!
At the end of the corridor guests then saw the mock security area which was where we were based.  There were four security lanes and the guests were ushered to their most appropriate lane by the birthday boy Chris and one of his friends dressed as New York police officers.  The lanes were for suspected vegetarians, VIPs, those in mid-life crises and retired 1970's TV presenters... the latter one being roped off and not used!  We were given the VIP lane to police and had a good time with various guests making sure that they "moved along".. Robin put his skills as a football steward to good use and was suitably stern and officious with the guests.  We also got them to place their handbags etc into the red plastic trays before they went through the pretend scanner where Lord Vader was sat and instructed to look suitably bored as the items went through the scanner.  Those in mid-life crisis were searched by some sexy pretend police officers with not a great deal on!
Anyway, back to the party, once the guests had gone through security they remained in an area which had been set up for a champagne reception and were entertained by a band called Ruby Lux and by speeches from the birthday boy and his family and friends and all announcements and introductions were made by Alan Dedicote!
The pathway to the rest of the hangar/event
Little did the guests know that the area that they were stood in, which by now was very full, was only a very small area of the party.  After all the guests had arrived and the speeches were over,a pair of very large Narnia like doors opened to a wooded path which then took guests through to the rest of the party area. 
Lod Vader on duty at the scanner

This additional area was set out like a festival with Yurts set out for a chill area, a bearded lady, and other festival like attractions.  There was also stage area for more live acts, Dodgems, Ice cream trolleys, and various hot food vendors in their attractive vehicles - typical of the kind that you see at festivals.  There was also a bar and lots of comfy seating.  All of the drink and food was provided by the host!.  
Some of the guests who went through this lane really did get into the role play!
The live acts were very, very good and included Johnny Borrell from Razorlight playing an acoustic session, The Illegal Eagles and Rockaoke.  
Once our security duties were over we were able to dekit and enjoy the party too!  Sadly Jeff [and his wife Meg] and John had to leave early but the rest of us stayed and enjoyed the fun and also got something to eat and drink as by this time we were starving. We also got to see Chris Evans, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richmond Hammond, Tiff Needell, Jason Plato, Eddie Jordan and Jody Sheckter take part in a race on the Dodgems!  It was like being at an episode of Top Gear!  We also got to have a go on the Dodgems too later on... I can't tell you the last time I did that or, indeed, if I ever have....good fun with every one in good spirits!
You may think not but I have had to replace my zip on my scout undersuit!
No usual post troop photo for this one I'm afraid as I completely forgot!  Huge thanks though to Gabby for inviting us along and to Chris Hughes.  Huge thanks to Jeff, Meg, Robin, Andy and John. A most unusual and high profile event! Also thanks to the Bearded Lady for letting us use her Yurt!! :-)

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The 99th Garrison collects for Concern Universal - Saturday, 8th February, 2014.

The 99th Garrison was asked to support a group of students from Manchester Metropolitan University who as part of their course work had to demonstrate that they could organise and run events to raise funds for charity.  This was one of their such events and the charity was Concern Universal.  The venue was a Toys R Us store at Great Ancoates in Manchester.
We were to meet at the venue at 09:00 and be in armour from 10:00 until 4:00pm.  This meant leaving home at 06:30 hours, although I did get to the store a little bit early ....08:40 hours but I wasn't the first, as Alan was already there.  We were soon joined by the rest and at about 09:00 hours the staff arrived and opened the store and let us in, showing us our base for the day in the store's rest room and changing room. We were also joined by the students who had organised the event.
Sadly, the event was a very, very quiet one.  The store did not have many customers at all.  I knew the retail park where the store is based from previous trips to Manchester and had not appreciated before today that most of the stores in the complex around it had now closed. This meant that for most of the time, we entertained ourselves with various toys etc but once we had exhausted the supply of new toys, it was difficult to fill the time.
The ball says it all!
We had a break for lunch at about 11:30am and went back out after lunch but the store was still really quiet and we decided during our mid afternoon break at 2:00pm that we would call it a day at 3:00pm.  As it turned out, we actually finished at about 2:40pm.  We de-kitted, had the traditional post troop photo and then set off back home, where I got to about 5:00pm.
It was good to meet new member Mark who crewed for us and to see Chloe doing Jawa again. She has the most excellent sound system making really good Jawa noises.
Pesky Jawa!
Craig came along as well and wore his  x wing pilot costume so we had some Rebel Scum for target practise :-)
Rebel target practise for us!
The store was so quiet that we only collected £117.47.  Sadly, these quiet troops do happen but when you get messages like the one below, it helps to keep things in perspective and the other more busy and profitable charitable events make up for them!
This was as big as me! but very cute!

"Hi everyone. Thankyou for an AMAZING day today. You were all fantastic.  I can't tell you how grateful we are.  We raised £117.47 which I believe is not a lot to you guys but it is great for us.  Thanks again you are worth millions.  Thanks Laura and the Uni gang"

Huge thanks to Dave A, Dave S, Pete, Sharon, Chloe, Andy, Jim, Craig, Mark, Emma, Darran, Chris E, John, Pat, Alan and Chris and to the management of the Toys R Us Store for letting us use their meeting room and staff rooms as our base and changing room for the day.  Also thanks to Carole for bringing us all lunch!  Much appreciated! :-) 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The 99th Garrison collects for Dreamflight at the Printworks in Manchester.

Through the good work of Alan, one of our members, the 99th was allowed to collect at the Printworks, Withy Grove in Manchester on Saturday 1st February, 2014.  We collected for Dreamflight which regular followers of my blog should know all about by now but if not, then shame on you!  You need to read all about this fantastic children's charity at
Being one of the first to get there - a photo with the Printworks' very own Minion was compulsory! :-)
We were due to arrive at the venue for 09:00am to be in armour for 10:00am but as the venue was really quiet in the morning we did not go out until about 10:45am and by then it was still really quiet.  Even so, this meant my alarm going off at 05:30 hours and leaving home at 06:30 hours in order to make sure that I got there on time.  I tried a different tactic this time though and drove up to Sheffield where I parked up and met Apetrooper Dave who gave me a lift.  This was actually about the same length of time as driving into Manchester from home and a much more straightforward journey. A route I may use into Manchester even when travelling on my own from now on.
As well as regular troopers and usual suspects [Chris, Dave P, Dave OP, Sharon, Pete, Chris S, Wayne, Jay, Joanne, Vicky, Darran, Emma, Pat, John, Jason, Gary, Alan and Craig] we had four new troopers at this event .. popping their trooping cherry!!  A warm welcome therefore goes out to Damen, Paul, Steve and Caroline.
The Printworks' new security staff making sure that no pesky Rebels get in!
We trooped in the thoroughfare of the Printworks and just outside the main entrance as well but it was very, very cold and we were in somewhat of a wind tunnel.  We had to take regular breaks to retreat back to our room in the management suite in order to warm up. I was glad that I had decided to leave a long sleeve T shirt and my woolly tights on underneath my under suit, but even with that extra layer on it was freezing.  The only trooper who didn't feel the cold was Jason in his lovely red, thick and warm Royal Guard costume.
Some naked shoulder bells on this photo in need of some 99th decals!
We had a break for lunch and then went back out into the cold to find that Craig had been able to join us after a morning at work.  He was somewhat jealous of us as he does not like not being in armour but kept himself busy taking photos of troopers for promotional material and talking to Carl from the Printworks in his capacity as Media and Publicity officer for the 99th.
We also found that the venue had got a little busier and that a few people had had a few sherbets and were in high spirits.  This isn't always a good mix with troopers' armour bearing in mind how easy they can be to damage and how expensive they are to repair or replace and a few of us decided not to go back out after our mid afternoon break. However, four of us did go back out and stuck together in one spot with about six crew and by this point, it had gone a bit quieter again.  We stayed out until about 3:45pm before calling it a day and deciding that we really did need to get out of the cold for good!
Taking a break and warming back up on the comfy sofas of the Printworks' Management Suite.
We raised £259.18 on the day for Dreamflight. Not bad for what was a relatively a quiet venue for most of the day in the freezing cold!
A huge thanks to everyone who trooped and crewed, especially to our new troopers who we hope to brand with 99th decals as soon as possible. Thanks also go to Carl from the Printworks for agreeing to us going in and letting us us one of the Printworks' conference rooms.
As usual we posed for a post troop photo but unfortunately some members had already left so there are a few missing from this troop's group shot.  Thankfully, I have a register now of those who do attend.  This is to help me in writing my blog and making sure I don't miss anyone out, something I used to use the post troop photo for!

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Collection for Dreamflight at the Trafford Centre, Manchester, 7th December, 2013.

The Bandstand - before the madness!
The 99th Garrison now has what seems to be a regular slot on one of the early Saturdays in December every year to collect in the Trafford centre and for the past few years this has been for Dreamflight.  If you follow my blog you should really know by now what Dreamflight is all about but if not, then .... .... ..... where have you been??!!  You need to check out and catch up with the ride asap!
I bet he would still miss if he aimed at one those reindeer from there!  Even with his big weapon!
This event was our last one of the year for us before Christmas and is usually one of our biggest and this year was no exception.  On arrival at the venue I went to the bandstand in the Orient as agreed for 09:00am and found it to be empty.  I needn't have worried though as it turns out that I was one of the last to arrive and everyone else was already in the management centre meeting room [our base for the day] chatting and getting ready to get ready!
The really busy changing room.
I also had an idea last week that to save everyone de-kitting at lunch time and fighting through the crowds and queues at lunch time for some food, we could do a fuddle instead.  Now, let me explain, "fuddle" is not a word that I had ever heard of before I moved to live and work in Derbyshire, but round these parts, it is used to describe a buffet where everyone brings something different to the table so that you end up with an interesting and varied spread for all. I put this to members of the 99th who were to attend this event and they all took it on board...... after some explaining of the word "fuddle" and not as one member who shall remain nameless said "fluffle"!!!!  So we also had quite a lot of food to keep us going!
The Orient
As were in the management centre's very well equipped meeting room for the day I also brought with me my copy of the Pirate Group's DVD of last year's trip so that members could actually see where and how the money that they help to raise is spent and that was left playing on a large screen in the background as members got themselves ready.
With Sharon and Vicki
I was doing Memah for this event so it was off to the ladies for me to get myself ready.  This was the first time I had done Memah since early this year as I had not been able to wear her sandals due to the surgery I had on my feet in March and September and as a result, it took me longer to get ready and at one point, even with the help of Pat, I could not remember how the dress and skirt attachment went together, but we got there in the end even if it did mean I was last out!! Most unusual for me!!
Hug a tree?
Once we were all out, we went to the Centre's very grand entrance near to the Orient where they have a very posh stair case and posed for a few group photos before the centre got busy.  We still caught the attention though of the early shoppers including two families who asked Lord Vader to hold their very young babies for a photo, both of whom cried as soon as they were placed in his arms.
The most of us in costume at one event for ages!
We were also joined by Kevin and Nicola and Debs.  Kevin is a nurse in the Dreamflight Dolphin group and was on the trip in my first year in 2009 and looked after me, making sure that I did not get too stressed out ....... the first time you do Dreamflight it can be overwhelming! Debs was a member of this year's Pirate Group.  We were also joined by Graham Park who is the husband of one the escorts from the Pirate Group that I did the trip with in 2012. He has also set up an official Manchester based fundraising group for Dreamflight.
Game of Thrones??!!
We then headed back to the bandstand area and then half of us went off to troop around the malls...... now this was a big thing for us as when we first started to troop at the Trafford Centre they were very strict about where we could go and it has taken probably about four years to get to this point where we were told that so long as we didn't cause an obstruction, we could troop around the centre. With this being my first troop in high heels and with the Trafford centre floor being very unforgiving on feet, I decided to stay at the bandstand area and collect there.
The three ?????
On our way back to the bandstand though I saw Chris and his mum.  Chris was one of the boys I looked after on the Dreamflight trip to Florida 2012.... I knew that they were going to be there to help us out on the day but it was so lovely to see them I practically ran to give them a hug!  We then met up with Chris' dad as well and his two sisters and once the greetings were over it was work time with Chris with a collection pot in hand,  He was one of our top collectors at the same event last year and had his reputation to keep up.  Safe to say though that his collection pot was one of the heaviest!!
I'm leaning on a lampost of the corner of a street waiting for a certain little Ewok to go by!
The centre was quiet in the morning but soon got busy with Christmas shoppers.  The troopers who had gone off to the malls had to come back as it was just too busy and having finally got permission to troop anywhere in the centre, we decided that we would stay around the bandstand area in the afternoon.
Add caption
Lunch was good fun with everyone tucking into the fuddle, we had sandwiches, cakes, scones, fruit, quiches, crisps, biscuits, chocolates, sausage rolls, pork pies etc etc and soft drinks and there was more than enough to fill us all twice!!
Justine [Chris' mum and the maker of the THE most delicious Brownies ever!]
After lunch it was back to the bandstand and to a very busy centre!  As the afternoon wore on though my feet got more and more painful and I occasionally had to sit down on the bandstand's steps.  This worked quite well though with children coming to sit next to me to have their photo taken.  I also had a couple of little boys who just wanted to sit down and chat about Star Wars with me.  The knowledge that they have about Star Wars far exceeds mine and some of the time I just had to smile sweetly and agree with what they were saying.
One of the crying babies
There was another little boy, who when I was stood up, came running towards me and threw himself at me, wrapping his arms around me and hugging hard but also, when he landed, he landed with his feet on my toe that had been operated on in September.... ouch!!! It was well worth it though for such an affectionate hug.
Resting my feet
By 3:30pm my feet could take no more and I did the by now what seemed like a long and painful walk back to the changing room to de-kit/de-blue which meant going back into the ladies.  When I came out at about 4:00pm everyone else had called it a day too.  We then spent some time trying to get the room back to how we found it and sorting out the rubbish and left over food and of course, posing for the obligatory post troop photo..... back at the bandstand!

We then loaded our gear up into our cars before meeting back at the bandstand and then going for a quick festive drink before leaving and saying our festive goodbyes for the year!
We raised  £927.60 on the day.  Thank you all so much!!!
A huge festive thanks to Graham, Nicola, Kevin and Debs from Dreamflight.  Also [from the 99th] to Chris E, Chris S, Scott, Ken, Dave [Scampi], Grant, Wayne, John, Paul, Darran, Dave A, Andy, Craig, Jim, Alan, Darren, Gary and Gervais. And to super crew Dave P, Pete, Sharon, Darrell, Vicki, Emma, Joanne and Jason.
Don't bring that Ewok any closer!!
Big thanks to Chris and his mum and family too!! Thank you for my Brownies!!  Yum yum yum!!
And not forgetting Alison and the centre management staff :-)