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The wonderful UK Garrison & Reel Icons


On Sunday 22nd January 2017 we once again held our legendary annual Christmas 'Mad Hatter's' Tea Party in the Great Room of the Grosvenor House (a JW Marriott hotel), where we were hosts to 650 - 700 'special needs' and disadvantaged children.  This 45th party marks the start of the fund's 89th anniversary year, a year in which the committee will all be in deep discussion arranging and planning their following year's huge 90th anniversary celebrations. What a great achievement to celebrate.




The children are greeted by Jo Jingles, Crest Bear and great characters from Mingo's Mascot Hire


Back to this party and what a great one it was.  After being welcomed in by numerous costume characters provided by Mingo's Mascot Hire, plus the Furry Tail Folk, Elvis Shmelvis, The UK Garrison, The Honey Monster, Mario & Luigi, Crest Bear, The Crystal Girls, Jo Jingles, Clowns Jolly Jack & Fiasco, 'Frozen' characters from Let it Glow Events  and the Pearly Kings and Queens and having endless photos taken with them, the children were lead down into the Great Room where they enjoyed piles of sandwiches, crisps and squash, topped with a visit to the chocolate fountain, while guests enjoyed sandwiches and tea upstairs.  We give special thanks to the Household Cavalry who carried the wheelchairs down to the Great Room and also thank Global Marketing for all the 'glo' sticks which were handed to each child on arrival.


Making a friend

Making a new friend on arrival at the party


The afternoon started with the wonderful Amanda's Action Club warming the children up and ending with a giant Hokey Cokey!  This was followed by a new loveable animal character act called Animal Fu which we know are going to be very successful, as the children just adored them.  Elsa and Anna from Let it Glow Events then sang some Frozen songs which the children joined in with and loved and it was then the turn of our wonderful Elvis Shmelvis who got the children on stage for his final act singing Viva Las Vegas! There were screams of delight when finalist of BBC TV's The Voice, Lydia Lucy, came on stage and sang and what a great voice she has.  Elite Musical Theatre Academy were next and they were just brilliant performing a routine from the musical 'Cats'.  Just loved all their cat faces and a great big thank you goes to all our face painters for helping out.  It was now time for the Fund's Hon. Chairman, Michael Son BEM, to welcome everyone to the party and the Fund's Hon. Secretary, Malcolm Shaffron, then made his usual health and safety speech.




Elite Musical Theatre Academy performing 'Cats'


On next were our Honorary Members the comical Bournemouth Carnival Band's Spidermen and they entertained the delighted children, with the 'Pearlies' joining in to do the 'Lambeth Walk', just great! 'Act Now' then entertained us with a lovely routine from the musical 'Wizard of Oz', which the children loved. There were then further screams of delight when Maisie Smith, who was gorgeous little Tiffany in 'Eastenders', came on stage.  Now all grown up she is pursuing a singing career and sang a song from her new DVD and what a great voice she has.  The cheers and screams got louder and louder when next up on stage was a finalist from ITV's 'Britain's Got Talent', Lucy and her lovely little pooch Trip Hazard.  They delighted the children with their act, which included several happy children joining them, what a lovely moment! It was now time for the character parade, which lead into a huge disco with the children running up to their favourite characters to dance with them.  The entertainment recommenced with the Elite Musical Theatre Academy coming back to perform 'Monster Mash' and what a great job the little monsters did! The Crystal Girls cheerleaders then came on and performed a great routine with pom-poms and all! We also thank 10 year old Oliver Joseph and Justine Harrington who both sang so beautifully.




Lucy & gorgeous pooch Trip Hazard


The biggest surprise of all was saved for last, when Jordan, Perri, Mitchell and Sam from DIVERSITY came on stage to such huge screams of excitement that the giant chandeliers were vibrating! Jordan introduced their New Generation of Diversity dance group, who gave such an amazing performance and we thank them all most sincerely for giving up their valuable time to be with us.  We are so grateful to all these wonderful acts for giving the children such a magical afternoon's entertainment and for signing so many autographs and we also thank Dave Davies who always keeps the party running smoothly with his great team A1 Disco.




DIVERSITY on stage


It was now time for the final disco and squeals of delight could be heard when tinsel streamers came down with the children collecting and piling them on their heads! Before the children left there was one further huge treat in store and that was going through our now famous toy grotto piled high with loads of toys, goodies and chocolate and here we must thank Jelly Cats for their kindness and support and Justin for his help and for delivering the toys on a Sunday, which was great.  We must also thank '1966 Entertainment' for their donation to help pay for the toys and Mars and '1966' for the chocolates to go in the goody bags and thank Jelly Belly for the sweets. Sincere thanks also go to the crew of helpers in the grotto.

An extremely important addition to the party are the people who remain static on the surround of the Great Room and work tirelessly all afternoon, some without a break.  Our grateful thanks go to Denise of Angel Faces and her wonderful team of face painters and balloonists, Portrait Artist Danny Green, Colour Sergeant Richard Angel and his Army Cadets, the Soho Station Firemen (Green Watch), the Oxford Street Policing Team (ORB Team) and DG Leisure who provided the Chocolate Fountain.



Lydia Lucy & Maisie Smith performing on stage


Grateful thanks also go to Amanda Miller and the Redbridge, Barking and Dagenham & Westminster Volunteer Police Cadets who help to keep the children safe at the party and what a great job they do.  They are very professional and a credit to the Metropolitan Police Service. We also thank Sainsbury's at Waltham Cross for sponsoring and supplying the food for the buffet on the rink and special thanks go to Susan Ramthor for organising and co-ordinating the buffet catering.  We also thank the Red Cross and Ears Radio for providing the two way radios.




Elvis Shmelvis & the gorgeous Vicki Michelle signing autographs


In between the acts our Hon. Chairman was pleased to introduce Olympian Anne Wafula-Strike MBE and we thank her most sincerely for giving up her valuable time to be with us.  Here we must thank Alan Fisher of 'Call Sign' at Dial-a-Cab most sincerely for sponsoring the taxi enabling Anne to join us. We were also pleased to be joined by the Hon. Alderman of Westminster, Mrs Anne Mallinson and her husband Terence and grateful thanks also go to the much loved Vicki Michelle for joining us.  We are grateful to them all for signing so many autographs for the children.




Olympian Anne Wafula-Strike MBE with the 'Pearlies'


There are so many wonderful people to thank and we sincerely apologise to anyone we may have omitted.  However, further special thanks also go to the following: 

Management and Staff at the Grosvenor House and Felix Persijn, Event Manager, Mark & Sarah Cohen from Genie Events, Nick Thompsett of Manic Ltd, Steve Davis and the technicians at the Grosvenor House, John Lewis, Peter Jones and Harrods, Radio Taxis, Nintendo (Mario & Luigi), Brecks Food (Honey Monster), Entertainment One (Peppa Pig), Kent Balloons for the helium, Matthew Buckley (Magician), Maurice Gilliam (Video), Metropolitan Police (West End Central, Savile Row), Miss Ballooniverse.

We woul like to share with you one of the numerous letters we receive after the party:

"Dear Committee, I wanted to thank you on behalf of my two sons.  Every year they look forward to the Taxi Driver's Ball and it never disappoints.  This year was no exception, with great food and entertainment and, of course, an eye-popping treat at the end.  My wife and I remarked to each other how kind it is that so many people put so much effort into the event with very little recognition.  This isn't something the taxi drivers, or committee, need to do, but they do anyway.  It's a great gesture of kindness and compassion that is too often lost in today's world, the whole event seems a throwback to the days where people genuinely cared about each other and provided communal support.  Well done and thank you again.  We look forward to next year (and will surely have a Frozen song in our heads until then).   Noah & Melissa


The Hon. President, Hon. Chairman and Committee are deeply grateful to all the wonderful people who helped us to make this party such a great success.  The feedback has been tremendous and we are thrilled and delighted that the children had a magical afternoon they will treasure forever.




Some of our lovely guests from the wonderful Dream Factory


Unfortunately our Hon. President, Bill Tyzack BEM and his wife Grace could not be with us again and we send them our love.  Roll on next year for our 90th Anniversary celebrations !!!!


Raymond Levy

(Press Officer)


(Many images taken on the day can now be seen in the Photo Gallery)