Tuesday, 26 November 2013

99th Garrison collects for Dreamflight at John Lewis, Trafford Centre, Manchester - Sunday, 24th November, 2013.

The view that met the keen shoppers as the shutters slowly rose to reveal us waiting for them.
Through some excellent networking that one of our members did [Gary Davies… no relation!] the 99th Garrison was asked to help promote John Lewis at its Trafford Centre Branch and the 24th November, 2013 was the chosen day.  In return we were allowed to collect for Dreamflight see. www.dreamflight.org.
The full team with our fab crew, Pat, Dave, Rachel and Rachel!
As the 24th November, was a Sunday, this meant that the store did not open until 11:30am and meant that we therefore did not need to be at the venue until 10:30am.
Not quite Lord Vader's size or colour!
On arrival at the store we had to head to its reception and then go through the rather large staff canteen to a training room which was to be our base for the day.  Joining me today was Gary and Rachel, John and Pat, Jim, Chris, Dave A, Dave P, Dave S and Rachel, Alan.
A member of our super Crew Team - Rachel.
As the store was ready to open until 11.30am we were ready in armour and stood behind the shop’s main shutters at 11:25 waiting for them to go up.  This was strange as we could here the “buzz” of the shoppers outside eagerly waiting to get into the shop to start their Christmas shopping but we knew that they were in for a shock when they saw us, lined up waiting for them!
Love this Christmas looking photo of Boba Fett
As expected the shutters went up and slowly we were revealed to the waiting shoppers from the feet up! There were lots of giggles and gasps and then the camera phones came out for a couple of minutes before we decided to move them along” at which a large majority of them also dropped coins into our collection buckets.
Arresting Father Christmas!
We had our own area in the Furniture Department of the store where our very own backdrop of a Death Star wall had been set up…. Constructed by own members!  We spent some of the day stood by this posing for photos and some of the time mingling with shoppers in the store.  This included photos with Father Christmas and many children, some of whom were more excited to see us than him!
Admiring the Centre's Christmas lights as the evening set in.
We also had one teenage girl come to see us who was all embarrassed about having a photo taken with us, but when her friend told us that it was her birthday I started off singing Happy Birthday to her and the other troopers who were also there at that point then joined in too… Happy Birthday Danielle!
With birthday girl - Danielle.
We stopped for lunch at about 1:00pm and were able to use the Staff Canteen. This was subsidised and I got a chicken korma and poppadom for £1.50!  Its not often we get to eat so cheaply on troops! Lord Vader was so hungry he had two dinners and a bar of chocolate!  Boba Fett was very healthy with his Roast Beef, Roast Potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding and not one of his five-a-day in sight!  Dave A had a full roast beef dinner stood up as he had not de-kitted for lunch and stormtroopers cannot sit down!
Resting my feet on a bar stool that cost £335!!!  It was sprung though :-)
We trooped again from 2:00pm until 4:00pm and were fairly busy/steady.  Even the Furniture department had a bit of a higher footfall than normal as people came to see us when our presence there was announced on the store’s Tannoy system.  We collected £517.00 and John Lewis also made a donation of £100.00..........for Dreamflight !  Thank you All!!

Once we de-kitted and I had dropped my armour back into my car, I returned to the store as I had seen a couple of ideal Christmas presents whilst we had been walking around.  Also bumped into Rachel and Dave S in there and then had a very pleasant cuppa in Starbucks before setting off back home where I arrived at about 7:30pm remembering that it was actually Sunday and not Saturday and that I had work the following morning!
Its hard work for our crew you know isn't it Dave?!!
A huge thanks to all the troopers listed above and Dave, Rachel and Pat for crewing so well.  Also, a big thank you to John Lewis and Moira for inviting us into their store, making a donation and to Gary for making it happen!

The obligatory post troop photo!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

This spot was to become the one where we spent most of the weekend posing for photos.
The 99th Garrison collects for Help For Heroes at Meadowhall, Sheffield 9th AND 10th November, 2013.
This event has become another regular annual event for the 99th Garrison in November, which I now refer to as my military month!
We were based with Kevin Mitchell from Help For Heroes and his volunteers in a meeting room in the centre's management centre where we were also joined by their mascot bear.
On Saturday we trooped from about 10:40am and had to take regular breaks due to the heat in the centre and how busy we were but by the time of our lunch break we had raised approximately £349.00!!
No wonder they can never find the right droids!
After lunch we were even busier and hotter!  We were so busy that a member of our crew [Rachel] had to set up a queueing system for people who wanted their photo with us and we did this for hourly slots before having to go for breaks.
By the time we had finished trooping on Saturday and Kevin had used his wonderful machine to count the money in our collection buckets we had collected £792.49!! :-) 
A huge thanks to Dave S, Rachel, Dave P, Darren, Darran, Emma and Jim for a great result on Saturday!  
Saturday's post troop photo
On Sunday we were to be in armour for 10:45am in order to take part in the shopping centre's two minute silence at 11:am.  We joined Kevin and his volunteers in a line near to their main display with Kevin making sure that everyone was where they should be.  Then when the centre announced the silence at 11am we all bowed our heads in respect.  The whole shopping centre respected the silence and it was really quite overwhelming.  I was glad I had my helmet on.
Getting lined up ready for the 2 minute silence
After the two minute silence we stayed around Help For Heroes main display table for a while whilst the centre had not yet reached its busiest period and by the time of our lunch break we had raised approximately £330.00.
Just as we broke for lunch though we were asked to go and say "hello" and sing "happy birthday" to a little girl called Dylan Sky Walker.  This we did and I am pleased to say that all troopers sang in unison even if not completely in tune!
Singing Happy Birthday to Dylan Sky Walker
After lunch we returned to the main Help For Heroes display for a while and to say hello to and pay our respects to Ben Parkinson.  He spent a few hours at the centre and on his own raised over £700!!! :-)
With Ben Parkinson
The area around the main display then got too busy and congested for us to remain there without becoming an obstruction so we then retreated back to the Santa's Grotto area that we had used as a backdrop on Saturday and again, we were so busy that we had to have a queuing system in operation for photos.  We did this for about an hour at a time with breaks but could have probably carried on doing it until the centre shopped due to the demand that there was for us.
How many troopers can you fit into a lift?!
By the time we had finished trooping on Sunday we had collected £735.43..... making a total for both days of £1,527.92!!!!!!! A fantastic result!!! 
Two sandtroopers together = trouble! :-) 
Huge thanks go to Kevin and his volunteers, to the Centre management and security team and to Alan, Jim, Dave P, Dave S and Harrison, Darren W, Darran and Emma and Dave A.  It was hard work for all of us, especially as most of us had done three troops in four days but the result and love in the building was heart warming.
Sunday's post troop photo.

Friday, 8 November 2013

99th Garrison collects for the Walking With Giants Foundation - Thursday, 7th November, 2013

The 99th Garrison has attended the Christmas lights switch on at the Trafford Centre in Manchester for a number of years now and this is becoming one of our regular annual events. When we do so we always support the Walking With Giants Foundation.  This is a charity for children who suffer from Primoridal Dwarfism.  For more information see www.walkingwithgiants.org/en/.  We are also supported by our good friends at the Mint Imperials. This year's troop was extra special though as it was in memory of Matthew Litchfield - a little boy who was supported by the WWG and who sadly recently had passed away.
I'm leaning on a lampost on the corner of the street waiting for a certain little lady to go by...
This year was also a bit different though as we had arranged to visit John Lewis at lunch time who are also based in the Trafford Centre to discuss a collection we are doing there for Dreamflight on Sunday, 24th November, 2013.  They also asked for some of us to be in costume so having checked with the centre management whether this was ok, we duly visited John Lewis for coffee/tea in their staff canteen dressed in soft costumes only ie. no armour or helmets etc were allowed at this stage.  Having discussed what would happen and where on the 24th, we then left John Lewis for something to eat in the Trafford Centre food hall in the Orient.
The event was also a bit different due to the number of troopers involved, although all did not come for the lunch time visit to John Lewis, by the time that the troop was in full swing we had the following troopers/crew...... I had to do a register for this, so as not to forget anyone!   Joanne, Jason K, Vickie, Sandra, Wayne, Sarah, Andy W, Dave A, Mark, Jason F, Ric, Dave P, Chris E, Chris S, Craig, Jim, Neil, Tony, Alan, Paul, Pat, John, Stacey, Richard, Jenna, Ken, Andy W and Pete.
Sith Lady Callieach
Having had some lunch we then had a couple of hours to kill in the centre's staff training centre before we were due to troop at about 4:00pm.  Its amazin how quick time goes when troopers get together and have some catching up to do.... chatter, chatter, chatter!
Rebel thinks he can hide from us??!!
We then trooped from about 4:00pm until about 8:00pm.  The Trafford Centre got gradually busier and busier as people arrived for the celebrities that had been booked for the evening... apart from ourselves of course!  The other celebs included Brian McFadden, The Hoosiers, The Overtones and stars from Strictly Come Dancing.
We were also joined by Sue and John Connerty from WWG and their volunteers and new bear mascot as well.... who is as yet, unnamed.  Suggestions are being sought! :-)
Hugging WWG new bear mascot
We were kept fairly busy posing for photographs etc and were even filmed and interviewed at one point about the Garrison and the work that we do for various charities.  We also had restaurant managers asking us to pose in their restaurants with their menus etc... in return for a donation to WWG of course!
Boba Fett on TGI's Harley outside their restaurant with apetrooper causing trouble!
We also had a special appearance by Apetrooper towards the end of the troop who everyone seemed to enjoy and John Connerty thought was "brilliant"
It was safe to say that by the time that we finished trooping we were all very, very tired.  This was my first troop at the Trafford Centre since my operations on my feet and even though I wore Mara Jade, which meant I had flat boots on with no heels, and inserted gel inserts my feet were absolutely killing me! 

A huge thank you to all the troopers and crew listed above, for some of whom this was their first troop.  Also to Sue and John from WWG and the Alison Reid at the Trafford Centre and all their security staff for keeping an eye on us.  We raised £381.97 on the night.... well done all!!! :-) 

Monday, 4 November 2013

99th Garrison collects for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal - Saturday, 2nd November, 2013.

With the volunteers who man the Legion's display/merchandise table
The 99th Garrison has collected for the British Legion's Poppy Appeal at the Westfield Centre in Derby for the past four years or so now this has become a regular annual troop for us.

We were to be in armour from 10:30am and had agreed to meet outside Sainsburys at 09:30am.  On arrival we soon grouped up together and there was Darran, Emma, Jim, Simo, Barbara, Paul, Rhys, Ken, Andy, Dave [R] and Dave [McD].  We then reported to the British Legion desk and then to security who showed us to our room for the day and gave us a short induction.... a bit like a talk from cabin crew on planes... emergency exits are here, here and here etc.....
Emma cleaning Lord Vader's helmet.
We were a little late making our entrance and it was still quiet in the centre when we did but eventually it got busy.  We were based on the first floor as usual and close to the centralised eating area so it always gets busy around lunch time.  We arranged ourselves so that there was always two of us in armour stood by the Legion's display table and staff and the rest of us had to go to another area not too far away from them because if we stayed near to them we would cause too much of an obstruction in area right at the top of some escalators.
Troopers choosing their Christmas frock.
We broke for lunch ourselves at about 12:15pm and were back out at 1:30pm.  The Centre was really busy by this point and we were in demand for photos.  Lots of money was donated and in total we raised £541.47   We even had one gentleman give us £10 in return for a photograph of him arm wrestling one of the stormtroopers! :
Pretending to be mannequins in a shop window.
The Derby Evening Telegraph came to see us as well and took a photo of Lord Vader with a little girl.  I also got to see Claire and Debbie from work along with Alex and god friends Mark and Julie Busby ... who all were able to recognise it was me event with my scout armour on!
A lovely troop which I enjoy doing every year ... with pride.
With Gary - the Centre's security manager and his staff.
We finished at about 4:30pm and de-kitted for the obligatory post troop photo and then delivered our heavy collection pots back to the Legion for counting.
Huge thanks to Dave, Emma and Dave for crewing and to Jim, Ken, Andy, Simo, Paul and Rhys.  Also to Christine from the British Legion and their collectors and the staff and security at the Westfield.
Do Stormtroopers even wear watches?