03 July 2013 By Billy Hawkins
The rain held off, James Glue found the Morris dancers, the boys said “yes”, to tights and the wind picked up to hoist the flag Jess’s mum had so kindly made.
Friday evening was a culmination of hard work across the company which involved teams of people who don’t often have to work with each other, planning and co-ordinating a real knees-up for over 200 friends, family and associates.
During the day everyone was sneaking off to chop food, string bunting, support the ladder (Graham), organise parking, turn the Messenger greenhouse into a bar (AJ and Greg – with great success, it looked amazing) and generally ensure that our evening would go with a swing. Huge thanks to Sarah, Matt Lock's wife who helped throughout the night on the bar. Our welcome sign was made by Mark Milum's daughter, Megan - thank you!
Looking after entertainment, Gary managed to recruit “Hot Betty”, the band for hire with Mark Blackwood (factory team) on lead guitar, Mal from the design office enlisted his very able son and friends and their barber shop quartet, who were so good I thought it was pre-recorded. The lovely ladies of Minsted Morris (who have donated half their fee to Thrive) danced with our bunch of fruit – Sean, James and Chris. They had been running the human fruit machine which along with “hoop the finial”, and our coconut shy, ably manned by Fiona from the Design office provided entertainment for all the children who ran around high on the sweets they won!
Jess manned her “Guess the Lugs”, competition (Lug being the Alitex name given to the small bits and pieces used in the design of our greenhouses and conservatories) whilst random children corralled guests into guessing the amount of balloons we had managed to fill the mobile Hidcote greenhouse with. Our world-famous gnomes, this time Carol and Stef (the Hewitt brothers being available only during Chelsea week) encouraged everyone to buy raffle tickets for some amazing prizes all donated by local businesses and our friends and associates. Big thankyou’s to all who helped us raise £525 for Thrive, the charity which uses gardening to change lives. Alyson Chorley, one of our friends from Thrive was here with her whole family and was delighted by how much we managed to raise for this worthwhile charity.
Our food was a huge smorgasbord of paella (the paella fella was a hit and we thoroughly recommend him), salads, breads, meat and fish kebabs, followed by homemade cakes personalised with the 60th logo on rice paper (huge thanks to Mick’s wife, Chrissy for slaving over those all day). We also had strawberries, meringue and cream plus cheeseboard – and lest we forget this was all organised and/or cooked by an Alitex team who also have day jobs! Pretty spectacular and impressive – Adam finally got down from the kitchen at around 8pm, just until pudding was served!
In the main marquee Nelly had done a huge roll-out poster of Alitex history – having done the research for our 60th celebratory newsletter and our Chelsea wall art, the subject is fast becoming her chosen specialist subject for her next Mastermind appearance.
The logistics of where, what, how and the clearing up was co-ordinated by Jason from the design office and his team – as you can imagine the nature of that task meant that they were still busy on Monday. Huge role for this team which simply meant a lot of commitment after the fairy dust has landed, maybe the hardest thing to do.
Friends travelled from many counties to join the fun and we really appreciate the effort of all our guests who came from near and far to add to the atmosphere of the evening. It was a herculean effort on behalf of the whole Alitex team which got the show off the ground, but it was everyone entering into the spirit of the evening which made it such a success.
Did you see the sculpture gifted to Tom and Nelly from Lisa Roberts? - wife of Ben (conservatory assembly team).