Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The 99th Garrison and MKG attend CarFest North

The 99th Garrison was invited to attend Chris Evans' CarFest 2014 at Oulton Park Cheshire and gladly obliged!  This was our second year at this event which is organised to raise funds for Children In Need and was somewhat looked forward to by our members who had attended the event last year and had a great time raising approximately £1,000 at the event.

The event ran from Friday 1st August to Sunday night on the 3rd August, 2014.  This meant leaving home early on Friday morning for the drive up North and it also meant a hotel stay as the thought of trooping all day for two and a half days and then not getting a good night's sleep in a tent was not one that was particularly attractive!  
Dave S, Travis and Dave P had already arrived at Oulton Park by the time that we got there and had sorted out the camping and entry passes for all and had helped Ken with his caravan so there was less for me to do on arrival this year.... thanks Guys!!  Once parked up we headed off into the grounds to pick up our wrist bands and speak to the Organisers to find out where our base tent was for the event and to make sure that we had enough collection buckets.
Tusken's revenge!
The walk from the car park/camping to the event included a rather strange path through a maize crop... couldn't resist some rather "Bill and Ben/flower pot men" photos!

The weather on Friday had been wet in the morning and had caused difficulties and delays in the erection of tents etc due to heavy rain which had necessitated all involved keeping dry in Ken's caravan.  The heavy rain also meant that the ground was starting to get muddy... and this was just the start of it... it got a lot worse by close of play on Saturday with cars getting stuck in the mud.  We had a bit of an effort to get our car out too but managed it... it was like driving on thick snow with the car wanting to veer in all directions!

The weather was dry and warm when we arrived but didn't stay like that for long.  There were numerous heavy ... really heavy... downpours.  This didn't deter us though from staying on the main field to watch the acts that were on that night.  These were an excellent Cold Place, the funny Lancashire Hot Pots, the very good Kings Ov Leon, a former World Superbike Champion in 2007 with his band called Toseland, the excellent One Night of Queen, the very good Eliza DooLittle and the still very good Erasure... in sequinned jacket and very high heels!! 

My jeans were wet through from the knee down! 
Other troopers had also arrived on Friday night and included Andy, Mayah, Anna, Chris [with their ten berth ten christened "The Death Star"] John, Travis, Joanne, Jason, Dave, Barbara and Yvonne.  Sadly, due to difficulties in communication due to there being no signal [unless you were on vodafone like Ken]  we missed the opportunity to re-group that night :-(
Saturday morning we woke to grey skies and the promise of more rain.  We met at our base tent for the event which was in the Artists' camping area and decided to kit up and take our chances and if it looked like it was going to rain we would base ourselves in the large Children in Need tent [CIN] for the duration.  
By this time we were also joined by Peter, Paul, Sonjya, AJ and Rhys and once all were kitted up we headed off to the CIN tent.  We marched off to the tent in formation and were well received once we got there.  We mingled and posed for photos for a while and then as it was getting warmer and sunnier we decided to try our chances and head off to the Army display area.  Anna and Mayah decided to stay behind though with Barabara as Anna's costume is made of Suede and could be ruined if it got even slightly wet.

We made it to the Army display and posed for a few photos and were even joined by Anna and Mayah who had decided to join us after all.  However, we hadn't been there very long at all when some very threatening clouds started to appear and although we made the decision to head back to the CIN tent very quickly, we just weren't quick enough and got caught, out in the open in a torrential downpour!  We had large umbrellas but not enough and Anna and Mayah had to dive into the first tent that they came to which turned out to one which contained Snakes and Spiders!  Both are Ok with Snakes but hate spiders!

For the rest of the day we did our best to continue trooping when we could and tried to become "Cloud Readers" to work out what direction they were going in and what they were going to do. Fortunately, we got it right from then on and didn't get caught in a downpour again and instead made sure that we were in the CIN tent when it did rain.  This meant that we we also had a captive audience in the tent as others had also dived in there for cover too!  Unfortunately, the tent got very warm and members helmets were constantly misting up. Despite our efforts to collect as normal on Saturday, because we were restricted by the weather as to where we could go, we didn't have heavy buckets at the end of the day :-(

We did manage to visit a Huey Helicopter though and pose for a few photos there too!

We finished trooping around 4:00pm and then people went off for showers and something to eat etc. We discovered a vintage tea room which is where we went for tea 'n' cake for pudding. A lovely little place where the staff all dressed in 1940s outfits and even told me that Chris Evans had just been sat in the chair that I chose to sit in! 
This time we agreed to meet outside one of the beer tents for the evening's entertainment which consisted of Jack Savoretti, Tom Odell, Toploader, Seasick Steve, Scouting for Girls, Fireworks and then Simple Minds.
Sunday morning we woke to brilliant sunshine!  Hoooray!!!!  Our spirits were lifted and we were much freeer to do what we wanted to do and see more of the event and hopefully get more donations in our collection buckets.

We also spotted a piano in a middle of a field surrounded by snack bars etc where we posed for group photos with Lord Vader playing the piano.

We also got to go on a Monster Truck to pose for photos too as it had to close between 11:00 and 12:00 noon due to the noise that it makes affecting local churches.
 We then headed off towards the main stage area in the hope that we could get some photos and donations in front of the main stage.  However, we managed to get permission to actually go on the stage at which point Lord Vader [AKA Andy] showed all that he can play the drums [even if he couldn't see what he was doing!] and that the 99th Garrison does actually rock!!
We were asked to to various stalls including one with Razor carts, Morgan Cars, Alfa Romeo Cars, Table Tennis and the English Rugby Team tent.
We obliged and I ended up sitting in one of the tiny little Razor Carts which decided that contrary to what I had expected it was going to move!
I also got to sit in a Morgan 100YR WR14 EDITION: 8 SPEEDSTER which was rather nice! Dave L joined me with some difficulty in his Stormtrooper armour and I even got to rev the rather loud engine several times!!

Myself, Dave L and Travis then also had a go at getting on and off the large rugby ball in the Rugby team's tent... fortunately, they didn't switch the thing on!!

We then even had a game of table tennis!

By this point a lot of troopers had got too tired to continue trooping but myself, Dave, John and Travis headed off with Jason and Yvonne to the Paddcok to see some of the lovely cars that they had there, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Thunderbirds, Deloreans from Back to the future and a Penguin car!!
We were now all were suitably worn out and we decided to call it a day about 5:00pm.  Most then de - kitted and had to go and take tents down etc.  A mammoth job when it came to the Death Star tent!

We took the collection buckets back to the CIN tent and have now been told that we collected an amazing £871.00!!!  I am well chuffed.. this is a brilliant total given the weather on Saturday. :-)    
We then headed off for something to eat for tea followed by tea 'n' cake at the Vintage Tea tent again before heading off to see the rest of the music entertainment.  We had missed Texas, 10cc, and the Feeling but got to see Sophie Ellis-Bexter.  We were also tired by this point and despite wanting to see the closing Act... Jools Holland, we also admitted defeat and headed back off to the Hotel.
Thunderbirds FAB 1
A huge thank you to Sinead for getting us into this event... we know how privileged we are to be there and to Chris Hughes and all his Event Staff for running it.
I couldn't resist a quick kiss with Mr Glennister...AKA DCI Gene Hunt
Special huge thanks to all the Troopers and crew....Andy W, Anna, Mayah, Dave P, Dave S, Dave L, Barbara, Travis, Chris, Joanne, Jason, Yvonne, Ken, Peter, Paul, Sonja, Rhys, AJ, Andy [MKG] for the photos and John.
missing Paul, Sonya, Rhys, AJ, Dave and Barbara.
Here's to Carfest North 2015!!

Monday, 2 June 2014

99th Supports Dreamflight at their Family Fun Day, BA Concorde Club - Sunday, 1st June, 2014

With members of Dreamflight's Simpsons Group aka as The 118 Group as they get ready to take part in the event's Its a Knock Out tournament.
Regular readers of my blog will know that the 99th Garrison supports a charity called Dreamflight.  Dreamflight is a registered UK charity that changes young lives through taking children with a serious illness or disability, without their parents, on the holiday of a lifetime to Orlando, Florida.   See www.dreamflight.org for further details.

For the second year running, we were invited along to Dreamflight's Family Fun Day held at the BA Concorde Club, Cranford in Middlesex.  This is a lovely family based event at a great venue which also is the home of QPR's Academy. 
Something not quite right with this photo? ! lol

With members of Dreamflight's Scooby Doo Group from Northern Ireland
We were due to troop from 12 noon until 4pm ish and therefore met up with the others at 11:00am.  I say "others" but there were only four of us at this troop and we were made up of two members of the 99th [myself and Jeff Vader] and two members of the MK Garrison who kindly agreed to assist us at this event[Andy and Craig]. It was also good to see Jeff's daughter Kayleigh again.
With some of the camera men for Dreamflight

We were given the Club's changing room as our base for the day and made our appearance at 12 as planned.  The event had only just opened at this point but was already quite busy.  The weather was lovely [after a week that had been a bit hit and miss] and this drew out the crowds.
One lady came up to us and asked if Lord Vader would hold her "tiny" baby ... and she was so tiny... her little hands.... awwwww

Lord Vader shows his softer side
We were kept very busy with lots of little excited children running around wanting their photo with us, to hold our guns or just to hug a leg!!  This time around, we were also asked to collect and am very pleased to say that despite our small number, we collected a very respectable sum of £99.04.  Thank you all.
With Pat Pearce MBE  [Founder member and Dreamflight Trustee] and other Trustees and staff from Dreamflight's Head Office.
We also took the opportunity to have photos taken with the groups from Dreamflight who were there taking part in the Its a Knock Out Event, this included a group from the Army and guess who won!
The winning Army its a Knck Out Team
We took breaks throughout the day as the sun got hotter and finished trooping at about 4:15pm.
We then had the obligatory post troop photo but this time, with a well earned ice- cream! Delicious!
We'd been watching everyone else eating ice cream all day... now it was our turn and, of course, it had to be a 99!!
A huge thank you to Katherine Elliott from Dreamflight for inviting us along and to Andy and Craig from MKG and to Jeff [and Kayleigh]

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The 99th Garrison collects for St Luke's Hospice at Meadowhall in Sheffield - Saturday, 26th April, 2014

The 99th Garrison was asked to support St Luke's Hospice in Sheffield at one of its collections at Meadowhall.  St Luke's Hospice cares for people aged 18 and above throughout Sheffield who have incurable illnesses.  Their aim is to control their symptoms, alleviate pain and give them the best possible quality of life - all free of charge and dependent entirely upon the commitment and generosity to provide most of the money they need.
Nikki from St Luke's Hospice couldn't resist having a go at fighting with one of our troopers!
We were to troop from 10:30 to 4:00pm and met at 09:30am in the Centre's Oasis Food Area before setting up base in the Centre's management suite for the day.  I was joined by Dave P, Dave S, Alan, John B, Jason, Andy W, Rachel and Harrison for this event. 
A Trooper from the other side of the Pennines!   Fortunately, border control let him in!
Having got changed we then joined the team from St Luke's in the area that they had been assigned to for the day.  They had a ball game set up which is difficult to explain but basically you had to catch small yellow balls in a contained area whilst air was being blasted at you... more tricky than it sounds! 
Crowds gather around the Hospice's ball game
The area was therefore already quite busy and we were immediately very popular.  It was an area of the centre that we had trooped in before, last November in fact when we were there collecting for Help For Heroes.  However, we had different security today and it is fair to say that they were not very understanding and twice asked us to move back to small confined area where St Luke's were.. .. apparently this was to stop obstructions ... but the centre wasn't as busy as last November and we were not causing an obstruction. There was also an area where X Factor was holding some auditions... they were prepared to let us in but the centre security staff were not!!  Hey ho, we still made the best of it and I hope that we raised a lot of money.  Update..... now know that we collected £747.07!!!  Well done all!! A great result!!
Ape Trooper had to have a go at the ball game.. it was actually quite difficult - even more so in armour!
We had seven troopers today and only Rachel as crew - with some assistance from Harrison so after about an hour of trooping I changed from my Scout Armour to Officer's Uniform so that I could help to crew.  As is usual with the Meadowhall centre, it was very, very warm for us in costume/armour and we took regular breaks every hour and an hour for lunch.

There was lots of fun in the changing room today with plenty of double entendre - mostly around the fine tuning of armour and polishing and Rachel having to strap Jasons armour together around his derrière!!  It was a nice surprise when we were also joined in the afternoon by Chris who helped with some crewing duties and innuendos!
We finished trooping at about 4:00pm and dekitted and then posed for the post troop photo - sadly.  Jason had had to rush off before this and before I had chance to stop him and make sure he was in it!

With my Deputy Charity Liaison Officer
Huge thanks to all the troopers and crew who came along and to Nikki from St Luke's for inviting us.  Also thanks to the reception staff at the centre who were as friendly and helpful as ever and to the centre management for letting us have the use of a room for the day.  I hope that when we go back to Meadowhall in November for Help for Heroes the security staff on duty are the ones that we are used to to and used to us!