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 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!

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!