Monday, 24 February 2014

50th Birthday Party in Marlow.

The 99th Garrison and the MK Garrison was asked to attend a birthday party for Chris Hughes [Chris Hughes Brand Events Limited] at Wycombe Air Park, Booker, Marlow in Buckinghamshire on Saturday, 22nd February, 2014.
On duty with the host
I have to confess I did not know a great deal about this event before I got there other than the location and that it was a 50th birthday party where we would be providing "security" at a mock airport departure lounge.  It was obviously an evening do but we needed to be there fairly early in order to get a feel for the location and be instructed on our role etc for the evening. I therefore arrived at the venue for about 4:30pm and wow!!!
Ready for action - security/scanning detail
I was joined at this event by Robin from the MKG [who popped his trooping cherry as this was his first troop], John from the MKG, Andy and Jeff who is a member of both the MKG and the 99th. We were meant to be joined by Julia and Mark from the MKG too but sadly their car broke down on the motorway on their way to the event and could not be repaired on location.  They were missed... would have been good to see them as I haven't seen them since last February!  How time flies!!
The mid-life crisis crew! They enjoyed their work!!
The party was in a hangar at the air field.  To get into the party who had to go through a police riot van which was parked right outside the door into the hangar.  Once inside it was all red carpet to the cloakroom area and then you were taken through a mock corridor typical of what you see to departure lounges at airports.  A group of teenage girls were hired for "fans" who's role it was to scream [as fans do] partway through this corridor.  Lookalikes were also hired [Johnny Depp and Kate Middleton].  They also had pretend paparazzi. 
With Johnny Depp!
At the end of the corridor guests then saw the mock security area which was where we were based.  There were four security lanes and the guests were ushered to their most appropriate lane by the birthday boy Chris and one of his friends dressed as New York police officers.  The lanes were for suspected vegetarians, VIPs, those in mid-life crises and retired 1970's TV presenters... the latter one being roped off and not used!  We were given the VIP lane to police and had a good time with various guests making sure that they "moved along".. Robin put his skills as a football steward to good use and was suitably stern and officious with the guests.  We also got them to place their handbags etc into the red plastic trays before they went through the pretend scanner where Lord Vader was sat and instructed to look suitably bored as the items went through the scanner.  Those in mid-life crisis were searched by some sexy pretend police officers with not a great deal on!
Anyway, back to the party, once the guests had gone through security they remained in an area which had been set up for a champagne reception and were entertained by a band called Ruby Lux and by speeches from the birthday boy and his family and friends and all announcements and introductions were made by Alan Dedicote!
The pathway to the rest of the hangar/event
Little did the guests know that the area that they were stood in, which by now was very full, was only a very small area of the party.  After all the guests had arrived and the speeches were over,a pair of very large Narnia like doors opened to a wooded path which then took guests through to the rest of the party area. 
Lod Vader on duty at the scanner

This additional area was set out like a festival with Yurts set out for a chill area, a bearded lady, and other festival like attractions.  There was also stage area for more live acts, Dodgems, Ice cream trolleys, and various hot food vendors in their attractive vehicles - typical of the kind that you see at festivals.  There was also a bar and lots of comfy seating.  All of the drink and food was provided by the host!.  
Some of the guests who went through this lane really did get into the role play!
The live acts were very, very good and included Johnny Borrell from Razorlight playing an acoustic session, The Illegal Eagles and Rockaoke.  
Once our security duties were over we were able to dekit and enjoy the party too!  Sadly Jeff [and his wife Meg] and John had to leave early but the rest of us stayed and enjoyed the fun and also got something to eat and drink as by this time we were starving. We also got to see Chris Evans, Jeremy Clarkson, James May, Richmond Hammond, Tiff Needell, Jason Plato, Eddie Jordan and Jody Sheckter take part in a race on the Dodgems!  It was like being at an episode of Top Gear!  We also got to have a go on the Dodgems too later on... I can't tell you the last time I did that or, indeed, if I ever have....good fun with every one in good spirits!
You may think not but I have had to replace my zip on my scout undersuit!
No usual post troop photo for this one I'm afraid as I completely forgot!  Huge thanks though to Gabby for inviting us along and to Chris Hughes.  Huge thanks to Jeff, Meg, Robin, Andy and John. A most unusual and high profile event! Also thanks to the Bearded Lady for letting us use her Yurt!! :-)

Sunday, 9 February 2014

The 99th Garrison collects for Concern Universal - Saturday, 8th February, 2014.

The 99th Garrison was asked to support a group of students from Manchester Metropolitan University who as part of their course work had to demonstrate that they could organise and run events to raise funds for charity.  This was one of their such events and the charity was Concern Universal.  The venue was a Toys R Us store at Great Ancoates in Manchester.
We were to meet at the venue at 09:00 and be in armour from 10:00 until 4:00pm.  This meant leaving home at 06:30 hours, although I did get to the store a little bit early ....08:40 hours but I wasn't the first, as Alan was already there.  We were soon joined by the rest and at about 09:00 hours the staff arrived and opened the store and let us in, showing us our base for the day in the store's rest room and changing room. We were also joined by the students who had organised the event.
Sadly, the event was a very, very quiet one.  The store did not have many customers at all.  I knew the retail park where the store is based from previous trips to Manchester and had not appreciated before today that most of the stores in the complex around it had now closed. This meant that for most of the time, we entertained ourselves with various toys etc but once we had exhausted the supply of new toys, it was difficult to fill the time.
The ball says it all!
We had a break for lunch at about 11:30am and went back out after lunch but the store was still really quiet and we decided during our mid afternoon break at 2:00pm that we would call it a day at 3:00pm.  As it turned out, we actually finished at about 2:40pm.  We de-kitted, had the traditional post troop photo and then set off back home, where I got to about 5:00pm.
It was good to meet new member Mark who crewed for us and to see Chloe doing Jawa again. She has the most excellent sound system making really good Jawa noises.
Pesky Jawa!
Craig came along as well and wore his  x wing pilot costume so we had some Rebel Scum for target practise :-)
Rebel target practise for us!
The store was so quiet that we only collected £117.47.  Sadly, these quiet troops do happen but when you get messages like the one below, it helps to keep things in perspective and the other more busy and profitable charitable events make up for them!
This was as big as me! but very cute!

"Hi everyone. Thankyou for an AMAZING day today. You were all fantastic.  I can't tell you how grateful we are.  We raised £117.47 which I believe is not a lot to you guys but it is great for us.  Thanks again you are worth millions.  Thanks Laura and the Uni gang"

Huge thanks to Dave A, Dave S, Pete, Sharon, Chloe, Andy, Jim, Craig, Mark, Emma, Darran, Chris E, John, Pat, Alan and Chris and to the management of the Toys R Us Store for letting us use their meeting room and staff rooms as our base and changing room for the day.  Also thanks to Carole for bringing us all lunch!  Much appreciated! :-) 

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

The 99th Garrison collects for Dreamflight at the Printworks in Manchester.

Through the good work of Alan, one of our members, the 99th was allowed to collect at the Printworks, Withy Grove in Manchester on Saturday 1st February, 2014.  We collected for Dreamflight which regular followers of my blog should know all about by now but if not, then shame on you!  You need to read all about this fantastic children's charity at
Being one of the first to get there - a photo with the Printworks' very own Minion was compulsory! :-)
We were due to arrive at the venue for 09:00am to be in armour for 10:00am but as the venue was really quiet in the morning we did not go out until about 10:45am and by then it was still really quiet.  Even so, this meant my alarm going off at 05:30 hours and leaving home at 06:30 hours in order to make sure that I got there on time.  I tried a different tactic this time though and drove up to Sheffield where I parked up and met Apetrooper Dave who gave me a lift.  This was actually about the same length of time as driving into Manchester from home and a much more straightforward journey. A route I may use into Manchester even when travelling on my own from now on.
As well as regular troopers and usual suspects [Chris, Dave P, Dave OP, Sharon, Pete, Chris S, Wayne, Jay, Joanne, Vicky, Darran, Emma, Pat, John, Jason, Gary, Alan and Craig] we had four new troopers at this event .. popping their trooping cherry!!  A warm welcome therefore goes out to Damen, Paul, Steve and Caroline.
The Printworks' new security staff making sure that no pesky Rebels get in!
We trooped in the thoroughfare of the Printworks and just outside the main entrance as well but it was very, very cold and we were in somewhat of a wind tunnel.  We had to take regular breaks to retreat back to our room in the management suite in order to warm up. I was glad that I had decided to leave a long sleeve T shirt and my woolly tights on underneath my under suit, but even with that extra layer on it was freezing.  The only trooper who didn't feel the cold was Jason in his lovely red, thick and warm Royal Guard costume.
Some naked shoulder bells on this photo in need of some 99th decals!
We had a break for lunch and then went back out into the cold to find that Craig had been able to join us after a morning at work.  He was somewhat jealous of us as he does not like not being in armour but kept himself busy taking photos of troopers for promotional material and talking to Carl from the Printworks in his capacity as Media and Publicity officer for the 99th.
We also found that the venue had got a little busier and that a few people had had a few sherbets and were in high spirits.  This isn't always a good mix with troopers' armour bearing in mind how easy they can be to damage and how expensive they are to repair or replace and a few of us decided not to go back out after our mid afternoon break. However, four of us did go back out and stuck together in one spot with about six crew and by this point, it had gone a bit quieter again.  We stayed out until about 3:45pm before calling it a day and deciding that we really did need to get out of the cold for good!
Taking a break and warming back up on the comfy sofas of the Printworks' Management Suite.
We raised £259.18 on the day for Dreamflight. Not bad for what was a relatively a quiet venue for most of the day in the freezing cold!
A huge thanks to everyone who trooped and crewed, especially to our new troopers who we hope to brand with 99th decals as soon as possible. Thanks also go to Carl from the Printworks for agreeing to us going in and letting us us one of the Printworks' conference rooms.
As usual we posed for a post troop photo but unfortunately some members had already left so there are a few missing from this troop's group shot.  Thankfully, I have a register now of those who do attend.  This is to help me in writing my blog and making sure I don't miss anyone out, something I used to use the post troop photo for!