Monday, 10 December 2012

The 99th collects for Dreamflight at the Trafford Centre - Saturday, 8th December, 2012.

It has become a bit of a 99th Garrison Christmas tradition over the past few years that we have a Saturday in December to collect for Charity at the Trafford Centre and for the past two years it has been for Dreamflight.  If you don't yet know what Dreamflight is and what a fantastic charity it is then you obviously haven't spent any time with me yet and shame on you!!  You need to go to and watch the three minute introductory video straightaway to fill this gap in your knowledge base!

This year was no different from previous years in that our spot for the day was at the Bandstand in the Orient area of the Centre and our base was in the centre management suite but this was the first time that I decided to do Memah for this event.  This meant a very early start though so with a jump, I was rudely awoken by the alarm clock at 04:30 am!  It was then a quick breakfast and off to pick Darran up before heading off to the Trafford Centre and getting there for about 08:15 hours.

We were the first to arrive but were soon joined by Jim and Craig and then I went off to the ladies loo in the Centre's management suite to start to get ready.  This is normally a very quiet and lonely affair but on this occasion I was able to spend some time with first of all Claire a new member of the 99th, Heidi [Mrs Vader!] and then Gabi [The Group Doctor for the Dreamflight Pirate Group].  It made a pleasant change!

We were out in the Centre for 10:00am and initially it was very quiet... but by lunch time the crowds were starting to arrive and it was a steady stream from then on really.

We were joined at various times of the day by Nicola with Eddie and Frederick, Emma [Pirate Group Physio] Neil [Pirate Group Camera man], Zoe [Pirate Group Escort], Wendy [Pirate Group Escort] and Gabi - Group Doctor.  Also, what really made the day special for me was that the two boys that I looked after on this year's trip [Chris and Regan] came along as well.  It was lovely to see them and their families again and for them to be involved in the collection.  I got quite sad when they left.

One member of the public said that he would donate £5.00 if the troopers posed a la "gangum style" for a photo so of course we obliged!

We were told at one point that Sky News were in the Centre and wanted to come along and film us, but they never made an appearance, which was a shame really as that would have been brilliant publicity for Dreamflight if they had done so.

The centre got busier and busier and regular breaks were required and by the end of the day my feet were killing me but it was well worth it AS WE COLLECTED £879.80!!!!!!!! in just 6 hours.  This is an amazing amount and a credit to all who attended and donated.

Once we had de-kitted and I had de-blued, we went for a bite to eat at Gourmet Burgers [we know how to live it up in the 99th] As we walked into the restaurant the staff behind the bar were looking at us in a quizzical manner so I went over and explained that we were the Star Wars characters that they had seen around the centre earlier.  Then when I went up to the bar to order and pay for my burger, someone who | assume is the manager came over and said that I could have a discount!!!  Whoosh!!   Then all the other troopers who went to the bar after me got a discount as well and the offer of free monkey nuts!!!!  ohh... the high life!!!

It was then the long journey home and I got back in at about 09:00pm.

This was a brilliant day for me and one that I had so wanted to be a success and I am so pleased with the total raised of £879.90.  It was great to meet new members of the 99th and I can't thank all of those who came along enough, we could not have achieved such a wonderful total without the help of all those who watched our backs and cajoled money off the public.  So, huge, ginormous festive thanks go to Jim, Craig, Darran, Ken, Wayne, Dave P, Dave R, Alan, Glen, Claire, Gary, Steve, Heidi from the 99th and to Emma, Gabi, Nicola, Neil, Zoe, Wendy, Regan and Chris from the Pirate Group.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The 99th supports Help For Heroes at Meadowhall - Saturday, 10th November, 2012

The 99th was asked to support the annual collection for Help For Heroes at Meadowhall in Sheffield. This must be the third  time that we have done so... I lose track!! 

We were due to be out in costume from about 10:30 until 4:00 pm. On this trip I agreed to give a lift to Darran who was to be Lord Vader for the day so picked him up and then headed off to Sheffield getting there for about 9:15.

On arrival at Meadowhall we headed for the Management Suite where we were to have our changing room\base for the day.  The rest of the crew were already there, including Kevin from Help for Heroes, Craig, Jim, Wayne, and two new troopers, Dave and Alan.  Its always good to meet new troopers and help them on their inaugural troop!!   ....   Listening to them describe how they are actually smiling for photos behind their helmets!! Alan did an excellent job too on his troop as photographer and crew. ... Thank you!
We were only able to do a maximum of an hour at a time before we had to take a break to cool off.  When we were trooping and not cooling off we were in constant demand and I know from my time spent stood with Lord Vader [with collection bucket] it was a non stop stream of people wanting their photos with us. They were basically queuing and waiting for their turn and included the usual children who were really keen, those who were not too sure and those who positively did not want their photo taken through total fear but mum and dad insisted!!

We had a break for lunch and when we got back, one of the Help For Heroes volunteers told me that the guys and gals from TGI Fridays had been down to see us and on finding that we weren't there had asked that we go to their place to see them.  We dutifully obliged and went off to TGI's where we cajoled some money out of their guests and staff and I was asked [as the only Biker Scout there on the day] to sit on their Harley Davidson for photos... which of course.... if did!

We finished trooping at about 4:15 when we really were fit to drop and then di-kitted before going back to TGI's for a post troop and much needed drink and then heading off home.... but not before Kevin told us that the 99th had collected £563.61 on the day.. WOW!!!! thank you!!!!

A huge thanks to Craig, Jim, Darran, Wayne, Dave and Alan and to Kevin for inviting us... see you next year!!!!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The 99th Garrison supports the Poppy Appeal.
The 99th Garrison was asked to support the British Legion Poppy Appeal at the Westfield Centre, Derby on Saturday, 3rd Nvember, 2012. This is an event which we have done for the Legion now for about 3 years and is always a good one.

We had to be in armour for 10:30 but having got there in plenty of time, for one reason and another we were a little bit late in going out to our spot by the Legion's stand and didn't get there until nearly 11:00.  I couldn't believe that Vader had his helmet polished by Paul with a pink cloth!!  Very unimperial!!

This wasn't too bad though as the centre had started to get busy and there were more people around.  

We were very popular all day and our collection pots were very heavy.  The money in them has now been counted and has come out at £368.10!!!  Thanks to all who were involved and donated. 

We were fortunate to have Lord Vader with us and he was very, very popular with never a second to spare!  We also had the Craigster, Ken, Jim, Paul and Rhys.

It was interesting talking to the volunteers on the Legion's stand as is always the same people every year and up until this event, they thought that we were a commercial enterprise and got paid for what we did.  If only!!

At one point the Craigster was talking to a Polish gentleman who told us that he was 92!  He had numerous stories to tell us about his time in second world war and was such a gent and a character. He could have kept us talking all day but other people were wanting our attention to so we had to say good bye.. but only after he told us that he could't chase the ladies anymore because of his bad leg!

I did Scout in the morning and after lunch as I could see that it was getting busy I decided to do Crew in my Imperial Officer.  I'm glad I did as it did get busier and we really needed eyes in the back of our heads!

We finished trooping at about 4:15pm and then de-kitted and had a quick non alcoholic drink in TGI Friday.  There were a couple of ladies sat near to us who as we were leaving asked what the 99th Garrison was as they had seen this on the back of our fleeces.  When it was explained what we do, that we do it for charities and mainly for Dreamflight and explained what that was, one of them produced a £20.00 note as a donation!  Wow!!!  Her friend also insisted on kissing Vader's helmet!

A very enjoyable and busy troop... it was nice to crew for a change too!

A huge thanks to Craig, Ken, Jim, Darran, Paul and Rhys.

Friday, 2 November 2012

The 99th [duly supported by our good friends The Mint Imperials] was asked by the Trafford Centre management team to attend their Christmas lights switch on on Thursday 1st November, 2012.

This was an evening event which meant leaving work at 2:30pm. I was hoping to arrive at the venue for about 4:30 and have time for something to eat before getting ready to do Memah.  Unfortunately, the traffic was horrendous and I finally got there at about 5:10pm and had to be ready in costume for 6:30pm so it was straight to the changing rooms [staff ladies loo/changing room!] to start getting ready.

I was ready for about 6:20pm and went and joined Ken, Paul, Jim and Wayne from the 99th together with Stacey, Phil, Richard, Ken, Phil, Jacob and Neil from the Mint Imperials.  We were also joined by a little boy called Will [and his mum, dad and sister] who, as a birthday treat, was to troop with us that night.  I was asked to lead the parade out with Will and then look after him during the troop and it was an absolute pleasure.  He told me part way through the night that it was his best birthday ever!! Awwwww!!

I had both extremes of the Star Wars knowledge base at the event as I had one lady who thought that I was a smurf [Tut!] and one young man who knew who I was and knew more about my character’s life story than I did!!  There was also much talk about the acquisition of Star Wars by Disney.  The majority of us are withholding judgement but 2015 could be a busy year for the 99th and other Star Wars costuming groups with the launch of Episode VII.

We trooped in our usual spot at the Trafford Centre [by the band stand in the Orient] and on this occasion we were collecting for the Walking With Giants Foundation and were joined by Sue, John, Alex and their supporters. See  A brilliant £632 was raised in just two hours! 

The main Christmas lights switch on was done by McFly and there were other celebrities there too. I saw Clare Sweeny in the ladies although I couldn’t put a name to her face at first I just knew that I knew her from something on TV!  The screaming from McFly’s fans when they appeared on the main stage was deafening.  I didn't chance to take many photos so they are bit scarce on this post.

We finished the troop by 8:30pm and then it was time to “de-blue” myself as much as possible before making the long journey home, getting back at about 11:10pm and feeling suitably hungry and tired!!  Fortunately, there was some fruit loaf in the house which I had toasted with a glass of milk before going to bed.

A huge thanks to Ken, Paul, Jim and Wayne [Wayne's first troop with the 99th] and Stacey,  Richard, Jacob, Phill Ken and Neil from the Mint Imperials for attending this event and making it so enjoyable!

Looking forward to going back to the Trafford Centre on the 8th December, to collect for Dreamflight. See

Monday, 24 September 2012

The 99th Garrison attends the Spaceport Heroes and Villains Weekend - 22nd - 23rd Sept 2012

 The 99th Garrison was asked to attend a themed weekend at the Spaceport Centre on the Wirral.  This wasn't a charity fundraising event but was a publicity/promotional event for the Spaceport Centre.

This event wasn't a Star Wars themed event but a general Heroes and Villains weekend but as it was based at a Space Centre, a few star wars characters fitted in quite well.  So, there was me, Paul [Tie Figher Pilot], Grant Commander Cody], Jim [Crew], Colin [|Kick Ass], Eric [Crew] and Danielle{hit Girl] and other charcaters such as Captain America, Wonderwoman, Batman, The penguin, Spiderman and Catwoman and others!  

This was an early start for me as I was doing Memah at this event and needed to be ready for 10:00am.  It was a 2 hour drive!  I was the first to arrive though and was quickly shown through to our changing room for the day.

There was only a small number of the 99th at this event due to its style/theme and the fact that we had another large event on the 22nd Sept at the Sage in Newcastle Upon Tyne where we put up a very, very impressive turn out indeed!

The first floor of the Spacecentre is heavily aimed at children and is based on A Grand Day Out for Wallace and Gromit.. and I just had to have my photo taken with these two wonderful characters!

It was a fairly cold day outside the venue so I spent most of it indoors keeping warm and posing for photos with the kiddies.  

It was a good day and soon time to go home but boy..... did my feet ache!!!

Thanks to Don't Panic and The Spacecentre for inviting us.  Great to see Paul, Jim, Colin, Eric, Grant and to meet Colin's daughter Danielle.

Monday, 17 September 2012

99th Garrison supports the MS Society

The 99th Garrison was asked to support the Burnley Branch of the MS Society at an evening's Fundraising event at the Oaks Hotel.

We were asked to do meet and greet as the guests arrived.  I had decided to do Memah for this one and that meant being there early... in my case, 5:30pm.

There was no Craigster for this one so it was straight to the venue.  On arrival we were shown to our rooms for the night and I took over the bathroom to do the transformation!  Ken only lived locally to the venue and brought his Rolls Royce to the hotel to show us.  It is in its mid thirties and was in a bit of state when he bought it but he had given it a lot of TLC and it is now lovely and available for weddings!  Well done Ken!  Jim for a short ride in it with Ken but I had to go and get ready!

I was ready by 6:45 and ready for the first guests to arrive at 7:00pm.  We posed for photos at a £1 a go and even to to pose with Brian Rose - British Light Middleweight Champion and to hold his [very heavy] belt!

We were finished by 8:45pm and then de-kitted [and in my case de-blued] before having some very nice bacon butties that had been supplied for us.  

We then set off for the long journey home not getting back until 11:30 pm.

Thanks to Jim, Ken, James and Grant and to Emma for inviting us along!.

And thanks to Gary Bates for taking the photos! :-)