Sunday, 8 December 2013

Collection for Dreamflight at the Trafford Centre, Manchester, 7th December, 2013.

The Bandstand - before the madness!
The 99th Garrison now has what seems to be a regular slot on one of the early Saturdays in December every year to collect in the Trafford centre and for the past few years this has been for Dreamflight.  If you follow my blog you should really know by now what Dreamflight is all about but if not, then .... .... ..... where have you been??!!  You need to check out and catch up with the ride asap!
I bet he would still miss if he aimed at one those reindeer from there!  Even with his big weapon!
This event was our last one of the year for us before Christmas and is usually one of our biggest and this year was no exception.  On arrival at the venue I went to the bandstand in the Orient as agreed for 09:00am and found it to be empty.  I needn't have worried though as it turns out that I was one of the last to arrive and everyone else was already in the management centre meeting room [our base for the day] chatting and getting ready to get ready!
The really busy changing room.
I also had an idea last week that to save everyone de-kitting at lunch time and fighting through the crowds and queues at lunch time for some food, we could do a fuddle instead.  Now, let me explain, "fuddle" is not a word that I had ever heard of before I moved to live and work in Derbyshire, but round these parts, it is used to describe a buffet where everyone brings something different to the table so that you end up with an interesting and varied spread for all. I put this to members of the 99th who were to attend this event and they all took it on board...... after some explaining of the word "fuddle" and not as one member who shall remain nameless said "fluffle"!!!!  So we also had quite a lot of food to keep us going!
The Orient
As were in the management centre's very well equipped meeting room for the day I also brought with me my copy of the Pirate Group's DVD of last year's trip so that members could actually see where and how the money that they help to raise is spent and that was left playing on a large screen in the background as members got themselves ready.
With Sharon and Vicki
I was doing Memah for this event so it was off to the ladies for me to get myself ready.  This was the first time I had done Memah since early this year as I had not been able to wear her sandals due to the surgery I had on my feet in March and September and as a result, it took me longer to get ready and at one point, even with the help of Pat, I could not remember how the dress and skirt attachment went together, but we got there in the end even if it did mean I was last out!! Most unusual for me!!
Hug a tree?
Once we were all out, we went to the Centre's very grand entrance near to the Orient where they have a very posh stair case and posed for a few group photos before the centre got busy.  We still caught the attention though of the early shoppers including two families who asked Lord Vader to hold their very young babies for a photo, both of whom cried as soon as they were placed in his arms.
The most of us in costume at one event for ages!
We were also joined by Kevin and Nicola and Debs.  Kevin is a nurse in the Dreamflight Dolphin group and was on the trip in my first year in 2009 and looked after me, making sure that I did not get too stressed out ....... the first time you do Dreamflight it can be overwhelming! Debs was a member of this year's Pirate Group.  We were also joined by Graham Park who is the husband of one the escorts from the Pirate Group that I did the trip with in 2012. He has also set up an official Manchester based fundraising group for Dreamflight.
Game of Thrones??!!
We then headed back to the bandstand area and then half of us went off to troop around the malls...... now this was a big thing for us as when we first started to troop at the Trafford Centre they were very strict about where we could go and it has taken probably about four years to get to this point where we were told that so long as we didn't cause an obstruction, we could troop around the centre. With this being my first troop in high heels and with the Trafford centre floor being very unforgiving on feet, I decided to stay at the bandstand area and collect there.
The three ?????
On our way back to the bandstand though I saw Chris and his mum.  Chris was one of the boys I looked after on the Dreamflight trip to Florida 2012.... I knew that they were going to be there to help us out on the day but it was so lovely to see them I practically ran to give them a hug!  We then met up with Chris' dad as well and his two sisters and once the greetings were over it was work time with Chris with a collection pot in hand,  He was one of our top collectors at the same event last year and had his reputation to keep up.  Safe to say though that his collection pot was one of the heaviest!!
I'm leaning on a lampost of the corner of a street waiting for a certain little Ewok to go by!
The centre was quiet in the morning but soon got busy with Christmas shoppers.  The troopers who had gone off to the malls had to come back as it was just too busy and having finally got permission to troop anywhere in the centre, we decided that we would stay around the bandstand area in the afternoon.
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Lunch was good fun with everyone tucking into the fuddle, we had sandwiches, cakes, scones, fruit, quiches, crisps, biscuits, chocolates, sausage rolls, pork pies etc etc and soft drinks and there was more than enough to fill us all twice!!
Justine [Chris' mum and the maker of the THE most delicious Brownies ever!]
After lunch it was back to the bandstand and to a very busy centre!  As the afternoon wore on though my feet got more and more painful and I occasionally had to sit down on the bandstand's steps.  This worked quite well though with children coming to sit next to me to have their photo taken.  I also had a couple of little boys who just wanted to sit down and chat about Star Wars with me.  The knowledge that they have about Star Wars far exceeds mine and some of the time I just had to smile sweetly and agree with what they were saying.
One of the crying babies
There was another little boy, who when I was stood up, came running towards me and threw himself at me, wrapping his arms around me and hugging hard but also, when he landed, he landed with his feet on my toe that had been operated on in September.... ouch!!! It was well worth it though for such an affectionate hug.
Resting my feet
By 3:30pm my feet could take no more and I did the by now what seemed like a long and painful walk back to the changing room to de-kit/de-blue which meant going back into the ladies.  When I came out at about 4:00pm everyone else had called it a day too.  We then spent some time trying to get the room back to how we found it and sorting out the rubbish and left over food and of course, posing for the obligatory post troop photo..... back at the bandstand!

We then loaded our gear up into our cars before meeting back at the bandstand and then going for a quick festive drink before leaving and saying our festive goodbyes for the year!
We raised  £927.60 on the day.  Thank you all so much!!!
A huge festive thanks to Graham, Nicola, Kevin and Debs from Dreamflight.  Also [from the 99th] to Chris E, Chris S, Scott, Ken, Dave [Scampi], Grant, Wayne, John, Paul, Darran, Dave A, Andy, Craig, Jim, Alan, Darren, Gary and Gervais. And to super crew Dave P, Pete, Sharon, Darrell, Vicki, Emma, Joanne and Jason.
Don't bring that Ewok any closer!!
Big thanks to Chris and his mum and family too!! Thank you for my Brownies!!  Yum yum yum!!
And not forgetting Alison and the centre management staff :-)