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 www.dreamflight.org 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.