Sunday, 11 December 2011

99th Collection with the Mint Imperials at the Trafford Centre, for Dreamflight on Sat, 10th December, 2011.

The 99th has a tradition of collecting for charity at the Trafford Centre, Manchester in December and this year was no different.  With the support of our good friends the Mint Imperials we collected for Dreamflight.
We had to be at the Trafford Centre for 8:30 so left base at about 07:40am to pick up the Craigster from his mum's and then went straight to the venue arriving just before Ian and Nigel who had driven down that morning from Newcastle to troop as Darth Rethan and the Emperor!  Fortunately, we had had a bit of snow the night before but nothing worse!
I had intended to do Memah for this event but I started with a cold on the Thursday before and with my nose running like it was there was no way I could paint my face blue and have stayed blue for long!!
I took my officer's uniform and scout armour with me and decided that I would see how I felt when actually at the venue before deciding what costume to wear.  As it turned out, I was able to wear the scout armour all day only occasionally coughing and spluttering inside my helmet... not nice!!  Yes... that's me in the Christmas hat!
We were in our usual spot by the band stand in the food court/orient area of the centre from about 10:00am until 4:00pm and it was a long, hot day! and we were based in the presentation theater in the management suite.  We were fairly busy most of the time and the collection pots were heavy!  We were joined not only by the Mint Imperials but also by some of my friends and colleagues from Dreamflight who came along to support us and help persuade people to donate... A huge thanks to Nigel, Jo, Kev, Heather, Maia and Jean and also to Connor and his mum and sister....Connor went on the trip with the Dolphin group in 2009.
As usual with the December Trafford Centre troop we went out for a meal after the event.  This year there was only me, Jim, Craig and Ian.  Ian had arranged to stay at Craig's flat in Manchester for the night so after a quick break and shower to freshen up we met up back at the Trafford Centre at about 7:00pm and hit the Kro bar for a swift one before perusing all the many varied restaurants there and deciding on a meal at the TGI Fridays! and very nice it was too and very filling!!!  The staff at TGIs are very entertaining and energetic and part way through the night one of the waiters slid down the bannister very smoothly and calmly!! The others missed it though and I don't think they quite believed me thinking I'd had to much liquid refreshment and he didn't do it again!
Saturday night/Sunday morning was not a good one for me as I seemed to spend most of the night suffering from my cold... every time I lay down I'd start coughing....but Sunday morning it was up, full English breakfast and then back to the Trafford Centre for Christmas shopping!  Not an entirely successful day as I wasn't able to get hold of a couple of items that I wanted so I may now have to resort to Ebay for them and hope they arrive in time for Christmas Day.
We got back to base at about 3:15 pm but not before bumping into Maia again in the Trafford Centre ladies toilets.... then it was a quick tea and settle down to count the monies and I'm very pleased to report that we collected £673.61!!
A huge thank you to Craig, Jim, Steve, Heidi, Ken, David, Nigel, Ian, Paul, Rhys, Stacey, Richard, Phil, Andy and my fellow Dreamflighters for helping us to have such a successful day!  An extra special mention to Rhys for his debut as a Jawa.... awesome work including at one point Craig, dressed in his Sandtrooper armour chasing him around the band stand with Nigel in tow trying to catch it on video as well, with Nigel having to tell him to run slower...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The 99th shall go the Ball!! Charity Dinner for the Christie Cancer Trust in memory of Matty Newall

The 99th Garrison and its good friends, the Mint Imperials was invited to the Matty Newall Ball by its organiser Shelly on Saturday, 3rd December, 2011. The venue was The Pavilion Bar at Chester Racecourse and the Ball was in aid of the Christie Cancer Trust. and a very posh affair it was too!..  This was the fourth such annual ball and so far, over £140,000 has been raised in his memory and put to good use by The Christie.
We needed to be ready, in costume to greet guests as they arrived by 7:00pm and seeing as how I was going to do Memah at this event and did not fancy rushing to get ready, we left base early at about 3:00pm and called for the Craigster before heading off to Chester and arriving there at about 5:15pm only to find that we weren't the first there anyway!  Neil from the Mints who does Darth Vader [and really is 7ft tall!] and their R2D2 and operator - Paul had already got there.
We were given the jockeys' changing room to get changed in and use as our base and it of course included a set of weighing scales that the jockies use before races. Well, we all had to have a go and to my surprise  I was heavier than I normally am at 8 stone and 9 lbs. That's quite good for me as I can sometimes struggle to keep weight on!  Although I did weigh myself again before we left and I had lost 2 lbs!!!  Its also amazing to realise how vain Stomtroopers can be!  At one time there were five of them in the gents all checking their appearance and asking "does my bum look big in this"  Sadly, for Simon, I had my camera out when he was in there on his own!
Anyway, I had taken my mini compressor with me and airbrush and instead of mixing the face paint with water and applying it with a sponge, I was airbrushed... an odd sensation! Although it is quicker than using a sponge, it is a different kind of paint and I'm not entirely happy at the way that it dries.... it looks.. and I know this will sound odd.... very dry!! and shows off all the facial hair!!!!  It also rubs off quickly when applying the make up on top if it.
Anyway, once we were all ready, we had to be outside to greet the guests... most of us went outside and formed a guard of honor but I'm afraid it was too cold for me... I would have actually turned blue and not needed the blue paint if I had gone outside.
We then milled around with the guests and posed for photos and two of our stormtroopers were asked to help with selling the raffle tickets but after the pre-dinner speeches, when the guests sat down for their dinner we went for a break... by which point it was most welcome as my headdress was getting quite uncomfortable.
After dinner it was back out with the guests to help out with the auction.  This involved standing on the stage with the host and helping to "present" the items to be bid upon.  One of the items was a Star Wars package which included a very large board of Darth Vader, some toys and the services of the 99th at an event of your choice.  I was intrigued as to how much this would go for and it ended up in a bit of a bidding battle between two ladies who wanted us at parties for their sons.  One lady was prepared to pay £300 for her son's 5th Birthday party but another lady put her bid in for £450 but then said that if the first lady would pay £100 to Christies that night then ten children of her choice could attend her son's party!  Anyway, this is how it was finalised and so the 99th went for £550!!! ... I think it was the highest bid item on the night!  Details of when and where are yet to be discussed and finalised.  
Also, one of the members of the 99th [Rob] had donated a spare Stormtrooper helmet to the auction... like you do!  and that raised £250.. so on the night, the total raised by us and the Mint Imperials was £800!!
The grand total raised so far on the night is believed to be about £19,000.  I'll add more details to this if I find out.

After the auction we then de-kitted and some of us stayed and had a wee drink before setting off again, arriving back at base, extremely tired at about 2:00am!
A huge thank you to Jim, Paul, Craig, Simon, Mike, Chris, and from the Mints .... Phil, Neil, Paul, Dave, Ken, Richard, Stacey and Nick.  

Sunday, 13 November 2011

99th Collects with Help for Heroes at Meadowhall, Sheffield, Sat 12th Nov 2011

Last year the 99th was asked to Help out Help for Heroes at a collection at Meadowhall and this year was no different. 

Little and Large!  Lol 
Meadowhall is in Sheffield and we needed to be there for 09:00 so left base at 08:00.  Difference was that this time we had Dave stay over as well as the Craigster so there were four of us in the car and all our costumes... this meant that Craig had to wear his Officer/Crew uniform for the day as we could not fit a fourth set of armour into the car.
We arrived at Meadowhall on time and met up with Jeff and Michaela and then Stu and Darran and set up base in the conference room in the centre management suite and got changed there.  We went out at about 10:00am and soon got very busy and very hot. ... although probably not as hot as the Help for Heroes Bear!!!
Lunch time was most welcome but when we went out after lunch it was even hotter and busier! We could not move from spot as it was just a steady stream of photos and donations.  The monies were counted by Kevin from HFH on the day and just from the buckets alone [not including the merchandise] by the time we called it a day at just after 4:00pm we had collected approximately £1486!!!!!  Wow!!!!
A huge Imperial thanks to Dave, Craig, Jim, Stu, Darran, Jeff and Michaela [excellent crew and photographer!!] and Kevin from HFH for the day... it was very busy, hot and very tiring... but well worth it.
After the troop we called at the Handmade Burger restaurant and had a very nice tea which meant I didn't have to cook we got back in... Hooray and had to have a photo taken by the centre's Christmas tree!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

99th collects for the British Legion Poppy Appeal at the Westfield Centre in Derby on Saturday, 5th November, 2011

The 99th was asked to support the British Legion at its annual collection for the Poppy Appeal at the Westfield Centre on the 5th November.  We have collected for them before and this is always a good troop but this years was even better.
We had to be there for 09:00am in order to be ready by 10:00am. We left base with the Craigster who had stayed with us on the Friday night at about 07:30am and were a little bit early but were soon joined by Paul, Darran, Paul and Ken.  
The Security Staff at the Centre were expecting us and took us to a conference room in the management suite which was to be our base for the day.  They were very, very helpful and vigilant and at times they were like having extra crew... they were really very good!
We were placed with the representatives/veterans from the Legion in a different spot from previous locations and it turned out to be better.  We were at the top of the escalators as people came up to the food court and had lots of passing trade!  In fact so much, that they had to move us just around the corner and away from the escalators as we were causing a blockage!
We were very busy and very popular and the collections pots were very heavy.  The Legion will be counting the monies though so as yet, I don't have the amount that we collected but will add it when I can. It was also very, very hot... again.
managed to persuade a few little ones who were initially frightened of us that we weren't that bad really and, with the encouragement of their parents and me, got them to have their photo taken with me/us... I love that part!

We called it a day at 4:00pm but could probably have stayed longer as we were still busy but we were tired and hot.  We called in TGI Friday's on the way back to get changed and they let me and Craig pose on a Harley Davidson that they had on show in the bar area... a first for me and in my Biker Scout :-)  
A great troop for a brilliant cause and good fun.  As usual we stopped off for a much needed drink and we returned in our civvies to TJI Fridays where I had a non alcoholic cocktail   ... a November Seabreeze... very nice and refreshing.  The staff were brill and had all posed around the Harley with me still on it!!
A huge thanks to Craig, Ken, Jim, Paul and Paul and Darran and to the staff at the Westfield Centre, especially the Security Staff and of course, to my contact at the Legion.. Christine.  A really good troop!!!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

99th gets invited by the Trafford Centre to take part in Christmas Lights Switch on and collects for the Walking With Giants Foundation and also the Buxton Toy Fayre for Dreamflight

The 99th Garrison was asked by management at the Trafford Centre to help out with their celebrations for their Christmas lights switch on on Thursday, 27th October, 2011.  This was quite a coup for us to be asked by them and shows that we have been liked by them when we have collected there before in December, 2009 and December 2010 for the Christie Cancer Trust.

We obviously accepted and went about ensuring that we had a good turn out for the event which again included our good friends... the Mint Imperials, including a 7 foot Lord Vader!
We took the opportunity to collect for the Walking with Giants Foundation again and Sue, John and Alex Connerty came along with other collectors from the WWG to help out and Finn came along too with Mel and Paul.. Finn suitably dressed as a young jedi. See\

With the event being on a Thursday and that being a work day I had to leave work at about 2:00pm and then do a two hour drive to the Trafford Centre, arriving there last!  I was doing Memah for this event so had to go straight to the ladies to start getting changed and go blue! I'm getting quicker at doing this and can now get ready in about an hour but it feels so rushed... ideally I would have more time to get the make up right and not get so flustered!  I did surprise a few members of the Trafford Centre staff though who came in to find a partially blue painted lady in their loos!
The nights entertainment took place on the main stage in the Orient part of the Trafford Centre as seen in "How to Look Good Naked" and was hosted by DJs from Key 103, and included, Alvin and the Chip Monks, Tracey Barlow and Amber Kalirai from Coronation Street, Stars from the new musical version of Dirty Dancing, The Reason 4 and.......  Steps!!!  I had actually gone for a short break just at the point when Steps were leaving their changing room and H from Steps was well impressed at my costume... sadly though I had taken my lekku/headdress off as I needed a break from its tight grip around my head and he asked me to go and put it on so he could see the complete outfit but then got dragged away by the PR people to go and do something else.  Faye from Steps thought that I was the singer from the film The Fifth Element!  Lol!
Anyway, the event was very, very well attended and although we weren't on the stage with the Stars we were the Stars of the Orient's Bandstand for the night and we were kept very, very busy and boy, was it hot!!!  The total raised on the night was an awesome £951.16!!!!

A huge thank you to:
Paul - Royal Guard, Jim - Stormtrooper, Craig - Sandtrooper, Chris - Scout Trooper, David - Scout trooper, Paul - Snowtrooper, Paul - Lord Vader, Tony - R2D2, Phil - Boba Fett, Stacey - Scout Trooper, Rich - Stormtrooper, Ken - Sandtrooper and Dave - Tie Pilot ... apoligies if I've missed anyone off!  and also huge thanks to the Trafford Centre [especially Alison Reid], and to Mel and Finn and to Sue, Alex and John Connerty and all the WWG helpers... and Paul for crewing and taking photos for me. 
Then.... on Sunday 30th October, the 99th was asked to help out at the Buxton Toy Fayre at the Palace Hotel in Buxton.... this being only a ten minute drive from base is a first for us!  The event came in with only about 2 weeks notice and with everything else that has been happening in terms of events we were only able to manage three troopers; that being me, Jim and Paul and Rhys - Paul's son -  as crew.... seen here having a break!  
As it turned out, it was just as well that we only had three troopers and we all lived fairly local to the event venue as it was very, very, very quiet and poorly attended.  We collected for Dreamflight at this event and I think that we will be lucky to have collected £5.00!!!  However, there had been another event on Saturday, 29th in Gateshead which I did not attend [hence no blog from me] but where we did collect for Dreamflight and in total, including the money from Buxton Toy Fayre, we had £86.89 in the collection buckets.
All in all, a very busy few days and more of the same to come over the next few weeks and during the run up to Christmas.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

99th Collection with the Mint Imperials at The Entertainer Toy Store, Wexham - Sat, 22nd October, 2011

The 99th was asked to help out with a collection for The Walking With Giants Foundation [WWG] at the Entertainer Toy Store, in Wrexham and our good friends the Mint Imperials came along too.
We were not needed until 11:00am so it was a later than normal start, with us leaving the house with the Craigster at about 8:30am for the drive to Wrexham.  Once there we met up with Simon [who, of course was already there he always is!] and Paul.
We had the staff room and Santa's store room above the toy shop for our base for the day and took the opportunity to have a look around at some of the toys.. me and Craig had a mad ten minutes or so at lunch time playing with the hand puppets and releasing the child within... was good fun!
We were well received outside the shop on what was a sunny but cold day with a very cold, chilling wind that cut through you and collected £345.10  for the WWG.. We were joined by Sue and John Connerty and their son Alex who was born with Promordial Dwarfism.  Alex had a great day interacting with us and was a joy to see as only in August, he was too afraid to look at us at the event we did at Spaceport on the Wirral.
Stacey, Phil and Richard from the Mint Imperials joined us mid morning... they had got changed in the multi storey car park near by and walked over to the store....I should imagine that must have been quite strange to see in the car park! For a change it meant another female Scout Trooper and a Boba Fett as well as another Stormtrooper.
Things got really quiet in the afternoon with not many people about so we called it a day at about 4:00pm and headed back home... sadly with the logisitics of the car parking and who was going where and in what car... we didn't get our traditional post troop photo!  But a huge thanks to Paul, Jim, Craig, Simon, Stacey, Richard, Phil and John, Sue and Alex Connerty.  Oh... and just to prove how tiring all this trooping can be for a youngster!