As the New Year celebrations draw to an end, we are always happy to know we have one more special party to look forward to and that is the annual Mad Hatter’s tea party held by the London Taxidrivers’ Fund for Underprivileged Children. This year it took place on Sunday 17th January 2016 and soon after mid-day the doors to the Great Room of the Grosvenor House (a JW Marriott hotel), Park Lane, London, W1, were thrown open to 600 very excited ‘special needs’ children and their Carers, who were welcomed by a host of costume characters, cheerleaders and Pearly Kings & Queens.
I love the Furry Tail Folk
The Committee extend grateful thanks to the wonderful Household Cavalry who were on hand to help carry the wheelchairs down to the Great Room and we thank Global Marketing for donating the ‘glo’ sticks which were handed to the children on arrival. After a short disco and a hastily consumed tea, the entertainment started with Amanda ofAmanda’s Action show warming the children up with her great exercise routines and this was followed by Chloe and Erin of Let it Glow Events who came as Elsa and Anna singing three great songs from ‘Frozen’, with the delighted children joining in! It was now the turn of our wonderful Elvis Shmelvis who gave a brilliant performance and made the children’s day by getting some of them up on stage during his ‘Viva Las Vegas’ routine!
I love Elsa and Anna from “Frozen”
It was now time for the fund’s Hon. Chairman, Sim Yiannikaris to make his welcoming speech, following which he was delighted to receive a second donation from Nick and Richard of Ink Recruitment totalling £3,350 in all which went towards the cost of the toys and we are deeply grateful to them for their kind sponsorship. Next up on stage was Cathy Beaney and Karen Hilbrown of the group ‘Support Black Taxis’, who presented Sim with a cheque for £2,000. Peter Stringfellow, a great supporter of our taxi trade, had donated this sum to the ‘Support Black Taxis’ group to give to a taxi charity of their choice and Cathy and Karen had very kindly chosen the LTFUC to donate the money to. We are deeply grateful to them and it was so lovely to have them join us at the party. The fund’s Hon. Secretary, Malcolm Shaffron, then made his usual Health and Safety speech to ensure everyone’s safety.
Cathy & Karen from ‘Support Black Taxis’ and Nick & Richard of ‘Ink Recruitment’
It was now time for the fun to continue and our honorary members the great Bournemouth Carnival Band made a spectacular entrance by coming down the long winding staircase into the Great Room whilst playing. They gave a wonderful performance, with the fabulous Crystal Palace FC Cheerleaders, the Crystal Girls joining in. It was now the turn of the cast of ‘Act Now’ who gave a great performance from the popular and much loved musical ‘Annie’. This was followed by 10 year old Tom Wilkins, who had appeared in the stage show ‘Oliver’ and he sang a great rendition of ‘Where is Love?’. It was now time for the two fabulous Cheeky Girls who gave their usual great performance which the children loved. On next was ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ finalist Sam Jones (Ventriloquist/Magician) with his dummy Baby Leo, who won the hearts of the children and adults. Sam had only just come out of Panto and we really appreciated him being with us.
The Cheeky Girls & Elvis Shmelvis & Joe Swash entertain the children
We were lucky to have been joined by Frank Bruno and Terry Alderton (ex Eastenders) and they were introduced on stage by our wonderful Compère Dave Davies, who always keeps the party running smoothly with his great team, A1 Disco. Our wonderful supporter and honorary member Joe Swash also joined us again with very fond memories of attending our parties as a child. We thank the celebrities for giving up their valuable time to be with us. We were also delighted to welcome the Mayor of Westminster, The Lady Christabel Flight, who went on stage to say hello to everyone and we also thank her for coming. Another presentation was made on stage, this time by Artemis Mercer, Cher Morresey and Linda Morris of the group ‘Save our Black Taxis’ who presented us with a cheque for £1,500. This money had been raised through them holding an eight mile sponsored charity walk in London and we are very grateful to them, all the walkers who took part and the people who sponsored them.
Bournemouth Carnival Band
It was now time for the costume character parade and disco which the children love, especially when they get to dance with their favourite characters. Once the disco ended a huge surprise was in store for the children when the giant eight foot Titan the Robot appeared and we give grateful thanks to Debra Lehman Smith and Allegra Tartaglia of LSM for sponsoring his appearance. In all the years I have been putting together the entertainment for the party.
Titan the Robot having fun with the children
I have never witnessed such loud screams of delight and non-stop laughter from the children, especially when Titan was squirting water at them and breaking wind! Hope the foul smell lingering in the Great Room has now disappeared! Don’t know who enjoyed Titan’s act more, the adults or the children!! The final act to appear were the fabulous and gorgeous Crystal Palace FC cheerleaders, the Crystal Girls, who performed a great routine to Uptown Funk, which the children loved! We must say a great big THANK YOU to all the wonderful acts and celebrities for their input. It was now time for the final disco and squeals of delight could be heard when tinsel streamers came down and the children had great fun collecting them and putting them on their heads. Before the weary children left there was one more treat in store and that was going through our now famous toy grotto which is piled high with loads of toys, goodies and fruit and here we must thank Justin for getting the toys to the Grosvenor House, Ronnie King for some toys, the Mill Hill firemen for some toys, Holly and co for the fabulous soft toys, Sheila and Emerald and the drivers and their partners for help with the grotto and also thank Eva from the Heathrow Canteen for the fruit.
Giving the party a ‘thumbs up’
An extremely important addition to the party are the people on the surround of the Great Room who work tirelessly all afternoon without a break; Denise Mountstephens of Angel Faces and her wonderful team of face painters, the Portrait artist Danny Green, Colour Sergeant Richard Angel and his Army Cadets, the Soho Station Firemen, Tony Richardson and his colleague for bringing the two Police bikes and DG Leisure who provided the chocolate fountain. We must also thank Sainsbury’s (Low Hall) Chingford for their catering sponsorship, with special thanks to Jon Cook, Store Manager and all the team from the store that worked tremendously hard in preparing the buffet. Grateful thanks also go to Amanda and the Redbridge and Barking and Dagenham volunteer Police cadets who are always such a great asset to the party, helping us to keep the children safe. We also thank the Red Cross and Ears Radio for providing the two way radios.
Having fun on stage
There have been so many wonderful people to thank and we sincerely apologise if we have omitted anyone, but further special thanks must go to the following people; The Management and Staff at the Grosvenor House, Mark and Sarah Cohen of Genie Events, Nick from MANIC Ltd, Dani from John Lewis, Dushka from Peter Jones, Mark and Clive from Harrods, Mark from Harvey Nichols and Tiiani from United Biscuits, UK Garrison Costuming Group, Furry Tail Folk, Nintendo, Honey Monster Foods, Let it Glow Events, Entertainment One UK, Nickelodeon, Maurice Gilliam (Video), Chloe Fay Photography, Kent Balloons for the helium. We also give special thanks to all the wonderful helpers.
We were thrilled and delighted after the party to receive the following email from Sarah Jones of the Furry Tail Folk, who are Honorary members of ours, and thought it was worthy of sharing with you;
“Thank you for inviting us to your party, we had a great time and it was a great atmosphere, best one yet! You do a great job and we love being part of it and making a difference. We had a lovely little boy in a wheelchair, who was severely impaired and he reached out and touched us and smiled and his mum was almost crying because she told us he had never ever responded before. That’s why we do what we do and why we love helping you. A child’s smile is something special and also the parents too, who often have to deal with a lot. You all work so hard and do such a great job. All the children are lucky to have such a lovely caring group of people. Any time we can help, just let us know and if we can we will”.
The Hon. President, Hon. Chairman and Committee are deeply grateful to all the wonderful people who helped us in any way to make this party such a great success. We have received such a tremendous feedback and always feel so honoured and privileged to be able to put so much fun into these children’s lives. Unfortunately our Hon. President, Bill Tyzack BEM and his wife Grace could not be with us. We all missed them very much and send our best wishes to them.
Our motto is “None Walks so Tall as He who Stoops to Help a Child”