By Christine Howorth
Southport u3a celebrated the Coronation with a sumptuous tea party at the 5* Grand in Southport.
With live classical music, flags, Coronation poppers and a majestic quiz the occasion was a huge success but the highlight was a surprise visit from the royal couple themselves.
Southport ground to a standstill as Charles and Camilla arrived in a huge vintage 1934 Daimler Landaulette.
Accompanied inside by their infantry of bodyguards they stopped to wave and chat to the crowd of onlookers, negotiated the paparazzi and to the amazement and delight of the 250 u3a party goers finally arrived to join them for tea.
Our lookalike from the u3a Drama Group Charles made a marvellous and hilarious speech, commending Southport and the u3a in general, and then the burley bodyguards tasted the food, just to be on the safe side – and maybe more than absolutely necessary and we all tucked in.
Later the imperial couple had a walkabout and enjoyed an informal chat with all the u3a members, next HRH readout the answers to the majestic quiz, padding out the answers with amusing insights into the everyday life of the Royals.
Camilla presented the medals and prizes to the winning table, then made an entertaining speech of her own and was presented with a bouquet of flowers.
Finally it was time for the noble pair to leave and jet back down to the capital to have their nails done and a good night’s sleep for the Coronation the following day.
We all waved our complimentary flags, popped the Coronation poppers and sang God Save the King and Land of Hope and Glory as they left.
It really was a splendid occasion and one we will all remember for a long time.
Of course it wasn’t the real Charles and Camilla, just the u3a members hamming it up for our entertainment, but they were outstandingly excellent and very, very funny indeed.
The Background – we started planning in February
Ticket Holders – 250 Members of Southport u3a.
Royal Guests – Pete Hoyle and Angela Pitcher were King Charles and Queen Camilla. Also Group Leaders of the u3a Drama Group and stars and directors of this year’s highly successful and entertaining Treasure Island u3a Panto.
Burly Bodyguards – 6’7” Dr Andy Rushton (also appropriately Long John Silver in the aforementioned panto) doubled up with another new member Ste Jones. With shades, boots and earpieces both stood menacingly by the doors as guests arrived, jokingly offering to frisk partygoers and looking out for the Royal arrival. Back in the 70’s when The Grand was a smart Casino Steve Jones worked first as a doorman then as a croupier so was delighted to step once again inside the building and admire the beautiful facelift.
Paparazzi – Flashing the bulbs and yellow Press Jackets the u3a Photography Group lead by Mike Law and David Fitton outside and keen photographers Jim Hay, Ian Homewood and Steve Birchall in the Princess Grace Suite. David Fitton also managed to get a video of King Charles’ hilarious speech.
Musicians – Dr Tom Sykes, Lecturer in Music at Liverpool University entertained us with beautiful classical music accompanied by Cellist Alistair Ligertwood supported uos singing Land of Hope and Glory and God Save the King.
The Car – Provided by Darren Christian or Christian Classic Cars is kindly chauffeuring his favourite of his many cars ‘Kate’, a 1934 Daimler, named after his mother Kath Christian who joined us for afternoon tea. Apart from towing the family caravan, Kate, once built for the Duke of Connaught has appeared in Brideshead Revisited and is used as Moses’ car in Peaky Blinders
The Grand – In its heyday this fine building was designed as a very smart car showroom with originally Disney commissioned windows in the 1920s. It became the Grand Theatre, a Casino then sadly fell into disrepair and was taken over by pigeons. Now sensitively and expensively refurbished by Mikhail Hotel and Leisure Group it was the only location to celebrate this big event. And they have done us proud. The room and service were second to none. We hope to have many more events there in the future – if they’ll let us back!
Southport u3a Events Team – It didn’t all happen by chance. Making arrangements, selling tickets, seating plans, arranging the flowers, blowing up balloons, creating quizzes and lots of nonsense was a team of u3a members who got together last year to create a prize winning show garden at the Southport flower show. They will be there again this August having lots of fun and running a National Design a Garden Competition. The team is Lisa Fryer, Diane Fitton, Denise Salters, Alison Keats, Karen Oats and Christine Howorth.
Who are we?
Southport u3a https://www.southportu3a.org.uk/
Southport u3a has been growing fast – we now have over 1,600 members – which is a challenge as totally run by volunteers- we all work hard, use our learned skills from our work life, pass on what ever gifts we have and generally have a great time. From Yoga, Walking Tennis to Pickeball; from Chess to Bridge to Language appreciation; from coach trips, theatre trips and history outings we have fun and keep on learning from each other and the world around.
The u3a is a National organisation with around 430,000 members whose aim it is to provide activities for retired and semi retired people. Their motto is Learn, Laugh Live – and we certainly live up to that in Southport.
Dementia is an awful disease for older people but by keeping our minds and bodies active we aim to keep going and going… No one should be lonely or unoccupied in retirement
There will be a u3a in your area just go to www.u3a.org.uk to find your nearest u3a group – and keep on going.
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