On Sunday 23rd January 2011 over 600 ‘special needs’ and underprivileged children poured through the doors of the Grosvenor House, Park Lane, London, W1 and enjoyed a magical afternoon filled with fun, jollity and laughter. Of course it could only be the London Taxidrivers’ Charity for Children’s annual Mad Hatter’s Tea party taking place again and what another great party it was. The generosity, passion and enthusiasm of everyone present, be it celebrity, entertainer, donor or helper, ensured that the party was the great success it was.
On arrival the children were given a warm welcome by a never ending line of lovable costume characters, clowns and Pearly Kings and Queens before being led down into the Great Room where the party was held and we must thank the Knightsbridge Household Cavalry for their great assistance in carrying down the wheelchairs. As the children were enjoying their tea, the LTFUC’s new Hon. Chair, Susan Angel, came on stage and welcomed everybody to the party and she was joined by Hon. Secretary, Malcolm Shaffron, who gave his usual health and safety speech.
We are deeply grateful to Helen, the Manageress of Nando’s Restaurant in Goodge Street, W1, who later presented Susan on stage with a cheque for £293, which had been raised in a raffle at their restaurant before Christmas. Another cheque for £203 was also presented on stage to Susan by Ryan Moss of the Hilton Hotel, Euston, being money they raised from an indoor ’round the world bike ride’ held last year and we also extend grateful thanks to them. We also thank Audrey Sherry for her kind and generous cheque and for donating the wonderful fruit to the party and deeply appreciate her continued help and support.
The Deputy Mayor of Westminster, Jan Prendergast and the Mayor of Brent, Councillor Harbhajan Singh both joined us and we thank them for giving up their valuable time to be with us. We were also delighted to welcome Sue Pollard and thank her for coming and adding to the fun. Also joining us were Big Brother’s Nicky and Aisleyne and the Variety Club’s Caroline Monk and we thank them all most sincerely for coming.
The afternoon’s entertainment began with Elvis Shmelvis getting some eager children to join him on stage and, as usual, he gave a great performance accompanied by his new backing singers! Our Honorary Life Members, the wonderful Bournemouth Carnival Band, then marched into the Great Room and, along with their new carnival cow, gave the children some great entertainment. It is always an extra special moment when they bring the wheelchairs on to join them and the Band are much appreciated and adored by us all. Taboo Street Dance from ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ came on next and their three groups all gave a brilliant performance. Akai, winner of Sky TV’s 2010 ‘Got to Dance’ was next to perform and he showed what a talented little dancer he is and why he was a worthy winner of that show.
With loud screams echoing round the room, we were then very pleased to welcome Kylie Babbington (Jodie Gold in Eastenders) and Jacqueline Jossa (Lauren Branning in Eastenders) and we thank them both for coming. The screams got even louder when suddenly Joe Swash appeared on stage carrying his little son. Joe and Shana have been great supporters of ours for very many years and we were so thrilled that they could both join us with mum Kiffy.
Next to perform were our wonderful Cheeky Girls, Monica and Gabriela, who have been regularly entertaining at our parties for the past nine years. We all adore them and are truly grateful to them for their support over many years. It was now time for our usual character parade and a host of much loved clowns and characters entered the Great Room and were rapidly joined by all the children rushing to join their favorite characters in the conga and half way disco. Once the disco ended, it was time for the Blue & White Rope Skippers to perform and their skills were greeted with a rapturous applause from everyone watching – unbelievable!!
It was now time for the new explosive 3D cartoon character called Lumili to make an appearance on the screen above the stage. She laughed, sang and danced her way into the children’s hearts, with the children following her moves to the ‘Wibbly Wobbly’ dance. Lumilie then got all the children to give three cheers to the new Hon. Chair, Susan Angel and the hard working committee. We thank Terry of Axia Productions and his team and the Grosvenor House’s Technical Manager Ben Behan for working hard to make this happen. After Lumilie waved goodbye to the children, the next act were ballroom dancers Ed Ault and Yasmin Priestley from Star Dance. They stunned the audience with their wonderful routine and the children were mesmerised watching them. It was now the turn of Taboo to come on again, this time in the pink candy striped outfits they wore on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ and they performed a brilliant routine. There was still another huge treat to come; 2010 ‘X Factor’ finalist John Adeleye had especially taken time out of rehearsals to join us and was greeted with huge screams when he appeared on stage to sing; what a great guy he was and what a great voice!
There is always a tear jerking moment at each party. Avril of the Dream Factory had come over and asked if one of their children could dance on stage. His name was Murad, age 12 from East Ham, who has spent a lot of time in and out of hospital. As Michael Jackson had been his hero, the Dream Factory had taken him to see the ‘Thriller’ live show, where he had sat in a box and met the cast. The LTFUC were pleased to grant him yet another wish and that was to dance to a Michael Jackson number on stage. Murad insisted on wearing John Adeleye’s hat for his performance and John was only too happy to oblige. As Murad got back in his wheelchair, John told us he had been extremely moved watching Murad dance and what a special moment it was. Murad was thrilled when we asked him if he could dance again at the next party, but he had yet another wish, could he sign autographs as well – I think that can be arranged!!
The very last treat in store for the children was the LTFUC’s famous magical illuminated toy grotto and they came out the other end tightly clutching large bags containing games, toys, activity sets, Thomas the Tank engines, soft cuddly toys, chocolate, fruit, etc. and we give huge thanks to Tomy Toys, Jelly Cats, Disney UK & M & S at Marble Arch and Cadbury’s.
It really is impossible to thank everyone individually, but special thanks must go
to the following and we sincerely apologise to anyone we may have omitted in error:
To the Grosvenor House Management & Staff, their Event Managers Helen McKintosh and Maarten Rogmans, and their Technical Manager Ben Behan & Paul, Knightsbridge Household Cavalry, Metropolitan Police Central (Euston) Traffic Garage, Metropolitan Police – West End Central, Sgt. Jack Warner of the City of London Police, Carol Burwood of ABC Imaging UK, Mark Cohen of Trance Art, Sarah Rolls of Genie Events, Martyn Cohen (Photographic), Jason and Shirley of Wide Screen, Becky Bevan of James Glancy Design, Natasha, Andy & Jackie of John Lewis Window Dressing Dept, Cadbury’s, Ultimate Promotions Ltd, Paul, Joel & Honza from EPS (AV equipment), Oasis Art, Photographic (Mark Cooper, Gary Sears & Patrick Jones), Video (Maurice Gillam), Soho Fire Station, Harrow Cadet Attachment, Pearly Kings & Queens, UK Garrison, Crest of London, HM Foods Ltd, Littlehampton Carnival, Clinton Cards, Nando’s Restaurants, Build a Bear, Trebor Bassett Ltd, Cartoon Network (Turner CN Enterprises), Nintendo, E1 Entertainment UK, St. John’s Ambulance, Radiocoms Systems Ltd, BOC.
To the Police and Army Cadets for their wonderful job in manning the stairs, stage, exits and never ending autograph queue and doing such a brilliant job and for the Police and Army Stands; Denise Mountstephens and her wonderful team of facepainters and tattooists, some having travelled great distances to be with us; The team who worked tirelessly all afternoon on the balcony providing the hospitality food and drink; Dial-a-Cab and Radio Taxis Group Ltd for sponsoring the hospitality food jointly; DG Leisure, who did a great job serving over 2000 chocolate covered marshmallows at the chocolate fountain; the clowns, costume characters, balloonists, magicians, portrait artist; The companies who donated many costumes; We are also deeply grateful to Global Marketing Group for donating all the flashing novelties every year, which the children love. We also thank Mr & Mrs Rainbow for their kindness and help and the drivers and their partners for their help and assistance.
The Hon. President, Hon. Chair and Committee thank everyone for helping us to put on this fantastic party, even the taxi driver who refused to take the fare from a helper on her return journey home when he found out she had been helping at our party – thank you! Well done to all the committee, their partners and anyone involved in any way for enriching the lives of these children and giving them an afternoon they will cherish for a long time. A little girl was overheard saying “Mummy why can’t they have these parties every month?” – I’ll put in her request at the next meeting !!