Style for Soldiers Christmas Party at Spencer House 2014 – Emma’s Speech

INTRO

GOOD EVENING LADIES AND GENTLEMEN AND WELCOME TO SPENCER HOUSE AND OUR 5TH STYLE FOR SOLDIERS PARTY WHICH HAPPILY SEEMS TO GROW EACH YEAR AND I INTEND TO KEEP GIVING AS LONG AS YOU ALL KEEP WANTING TO COME!

I WOULD ESPECIALLY LIKE TO WELCOME ALL THE SERVICEMEN, WOMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES AND FRIENDS, THE COMMANDING OFFICER OF HEADLEY COURT MILITARY REHABILITATION HOSPITAL PAUL HUGHES AND HIS WIFE AND THE OUTSTANDING MEDICAL STAFF WHO CARE FOR THEIR PATIENTS WITH SUCH SKILL AND TENDERNESS. THE SURGEONS, NURSES, PHYSIOS, THERAPISTS AND LIAISON OFFICERS ALL PLAY A FUNDAMENTAL ROLE IN THE PHYSICAL AND EMOTIONAL RECOVERY OF OUR INJURED SERVICE PERSONNEL AND THE FRIENDSHIPS THEY BUILD WITH THEIR PATIENTS IS EVIDENT IN THEIR NUMBERS HERE TONIGHT.

MY FIRST THANK YOU GOES TO JOHN BRODIE, TOBY BATEMAN AND PAUL WATSON AT MR PORTER WHO HAVE SPONSORED TONIGHT’S PARTY. THEY HAVE ALSO SPONSORED AND ORGANISED THE STYLE FOR SOLDIERS FASHION PHOTO SHOOT FEATURING MATT WESTON, STUART CROXFORD, ALEX PERKINS, ARCHIE GEMMEL, HENRY SAYKI, AND CASSIDY LITTLE, FOLLOWING THE SUCCESS AND POPULARITY OF LAST YEAR’S SHOOT. THE MILITARY AND FASHION WORLD MET IN A STUDIO IN FULHAM TWO WEEKS AGO AND SOLDIERS ARRIVED FROM ALL OVER THE UK IN WHEELCHAIRS, PROSTHETICS WITH THEIR CUSTOMARY INTREPID ATTITUDE. CAPSTAR CHAUFFEURS  KINDLY LENT A CAR SO MODELS WERE WHISKED AROUND IN STYLE IN ONE OF THEIR SLEEK BLACK JAGUARS.

THE DAY WAS FULL OF HUMOUR AND FUN BUT THE PROFESSIONALISM OF BOTH MR PORTERS’ PRODUCTION TEAM AND THE SERVICEMEN STOOD OUT AND THE MUTUAL RESPECT WAS EVIDENT. AS TOP FASHION PHOTOGRAPHER BEN WELLER AND MR PORTERS’ STYLIST DAN MAY CHOREOGRAPHED THE FIRST TIME MODELS, CASSIDY’S SERGEANT MAJOR’S SHOUT OF ‘ WHATEVER YOU SAY BOSS’ OR ‘ YES MA’AM’ TO THE PRODUCTION DIRECTOR RANG OUT IN THE STUDIO. WHEN I HAD ASKED CASSIDY TO MODEL HAVING MET HIM AT HEADLEY COURT AS AN EX PATIENT, AND NOW UNSURPRISINGLY PRESENTING ON BFBS, HE COMMENTED ‘ MA’AM, I’LL DO WHATEVER YOU ASK, BUT TELL ME I’M NOT GOING TURN UP WITH PROFESSIONAL MODELS AND LOOK LIKE SOME F-WORD ONE LEGGED GOOSE’’

EVERYONE LOVED THE DAY AND BEN WELLER OFFERED WORK EXPERIENCE TO AN INJURED SERVICEMAN INTERESTED IN PHOTOGRAPHY  WHICH WILL BE INVALUABLE.

I WOULD ALSO LIKE TO THANK THE CROWN ESTATE WHO COVERED THE COST OF SPENCER HOUSE, AND POL ROGER WHO HAVE GIVEN MANY FREE BOTTLES OF THEIR CHAMPAGNE, WINSTON CHURCHILLS’ FAVOURITE WHO QUOTED “ IN DEFEAT I NEED IT, IN VICTORY I DESERVE IT.” WE KNOW WHO DESERVES IT TONIGHT.  WE WERE IN THE SHOP DISCUSSING THEIR KIND OFFER WHEN MATT WESTON, ONE OF THE MODELS, CAME TO VISIT AND COMMENTED THAT WINSTON CHURCHILL’S WORDS “ IF YOU ARE GOING THROUGH HELL, KEEP GOING” KEPT HIM GOING DURING HIS UNIMAGINABLE TIME IN HOSPITAL AFTER LOSING THREE LIMBS FOLLOWING AN IED BLAST IN AFGHANISTAN. MATT THEN MET ALEX PERKINS AT THE PHOTO SHOOT AND DISCOVERED TO THEIR MUTUAL ENJOYMENT THAT ALEX WAS CHURCHILL’S GREAT GRANDSON. MATT WON A BRAVERY MEDAL IN AFGHANISTAN FOR HIS WORK SAVING LIVES IN BOMB DISPOSAL WITH THE ROYAL ENGINEERS, AND ALEX HAS BEEN A VITAL VOICE IN THE PROTECTION OF AFGHAN INTERPRETERS.

THE FLOWERS ARE BY ANGELA FROM VIVE LA ROSE WHO HAS ALMOST GIVEN ME THE FLOWERS IN SUPPORT  OF THE INJURED SERVICE PERSONNEL

IN THE GREAT ROOM UPSTAIRS YOU WILL SEE PAINTINGS BY ARABELLA DORMAN WHO HAS SPENT MANY MONTHS COURAGEOUSLY PAINTING THE LIFE OF THE SOLDIERS AND CIVILIANS DEEP IN AFGHANISTAN, AND CAROLINE DE PEYRECAVE’S PORTRAITS OF INJURED SERVICEMEN WHICH SHE IS PAINTING AS GIFTS FOR THEM. ANY SERVICEMEN INTERESTED IN BEING PAINTED DO TALK TO CAROLINE, AND ARABELLA HAS OFFERED WORK EXPERIENCE FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN PAINTING. WE HAVE EX SERVICEMAN NOW TALENTED ARTIST HARRY PARKER HERE TONIGHT TOO.

ON DISPLAY IS CAROLINES’ PORTRAIT OF THE NOTORIOUS ANTHONY COOPER, ONE OF HEADLEY COURTS MANY STARS. I WAS TAKEN TO SEE ANTHONY ON ARRIVAL AT HEADLEY SEVERAL YEARS AGO AND HAD JUST ARRIVED FROM THE HOSPITAL IN BIRMINGHAM AND WAS VERY BADLY INJURED, WITH SEVERE BURNS. I MEASURED HIM IN BED, EASING THE TAPE MEASURE UNDER HIS BODY AS THE LOVELY NURSE WAS KEEN HE HAD THE REAL BESPOKE, AND HIS EYES WERE SO BADLY DAMAGED I AM NOT SURE HE COULD SEE. BUT WHEN I ASKED HIM WHICH COLOUR OF SHIRT HE WOULD LIKE HE SAID DECISIVELY “ I WOULD LIKE PINK PLEASE”

I SAW ANTHONY AGAIN ABOUT A YEAR LATER AND HIS TRANSFORMATION WAS ASTONISHING. HE WHEELED HIMSELF INTO THE ROOM AT HEADLEY AND RADIATED FUN AND SOCIABILITY. I COMMENTED ON HIS INCREDIBLE RECOVERY AND MEASURED ANTHONY FOR ANOTHER SHIRT.  I TOOK LOTTIE ON HER FIRST HEADLEY VISIT A FEW MONTHS AGO AND LOTTIE HAD THE PLEASURE THIS TIME. ANTHONY TOLD HER THAT HE HAD BEEN TO YET ANOTHER RED CARPET EVENT THE NIGHT BEFORE AND PROUDLY SHOWED HER A PHOTO ON HIS PHONE OF KEIRA KNIGHTLEY’S VERY CONVINCING DOUBLE SNUGGLING UP TO ANTHONY ON HIS LAP. “ WOW, WAS SHE GORGEOUS ANTHONY?”  LOTTIE ASKED. “ IF KIERA KNIGHTLEY HAD YOUR BOOBS LOTTIE  SHE’D BE PERFECT” !

THE CALIBRE OF PERSON I HAVE MET AT HEADLEY COURT SINCE THE CASUALTIES TO OUR FORCES ESCALATED IN THE LAST FEW YEARS, AND THEIR HUMBLING GRATITUDE AND SELFLESSNESSES IS EXEMPLIFIED IN OUR TWO SPEAKERS TONIGHT, PREVIOUSLY CAPTAIN GARTH BANKS AND LT ALISTAIR SPEARING.

GARTH IS AN ASTONISHINGLY BRAVE YOUNG MAN WHO I HAVE WATCHED ADAPT WITH COURAGE AND HUMOUR FOLLOWING HIS LIFE CHANGING INJURIES. WE RECENTLY HAD DINNER AND HIS STORY OF ONE YOUNG BRITISH OFFICER’S HAIR RASING EVENING IN MANHATTAN BEING PURSUED BY AMOROUS LADIES OF THE NIGHT IS WORTHY OF A NASTY SCUFFLE BETWEEN THE TELEGRAPH, SPECTATOR, GQ AND MR PORTER, TO BUY THE RIGHTS! GARTH IS MUCH TOO MUCH OF A GENTLEMAN TO TELL IT IN HIS SPEECH, ESPECIALLY AS HIS PARENTS ELAINE AND JOHN ARE IN THE AUDIENCE, BUT IT HAS TO BE SHARED.

I MET ALISTAIR IN HEADLEY COURT ABOUT A YEAR AGO WHERE HE SHOWED MY DAUGHTER ISY AND I THE TWO DESIGNS HE HAD MADE FOR HIS GIRLFRIENDS’ ENGAGEMENT RING, AND ASKED OUR ADVICE. ALI VISITED THE SHOP A FEW WEEKS LATER TO THANK ME FOR THE SHIRT AND LET ME KNOW THAT THE RING HAD BEEN A SUCCESS AND THAT HE AND CLAIRE WERE NOW ENGAGED. PLEASE RAISE YOUR GLASSES TO ALI AND CLAIRE WHO ARE BOTH WITH US TONIGHT…CLAIRE. ALI THEN PRODUCED A BEAUTIFUL JEWELLERY BOX WHICH HE HAND CARVED HIMSELF, LINED WITH SUEDE, SUNK BRASS HINGES AND AN ENGRAVED PLAQUE WITH MESSAGE OF THANKS. I DON’T THINK I NEED TO EXPLAIN HOW MOVED I WAS AND HOW MUCH I WILL TREASURE THE BEAUTIFUL BOX.

WE CONTINUE TO GET THE MOST WONDERFUL LETTERS, EMAILS AND TEXTS OF THANKS, IN ALL SHADES AND COLOURS “ THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR THE SHIRT. I SHOULD BE ABLE TO PULL LOTS OF WOMEN IN IT. P.S WHEN YOUR DAUGHTER IS OLDER ENOUGH I WILL TAKE HER OFF YOUR HNDS IF YOUR WANT’” REGARDS CORPORAL WILSON.

STYLE FOR SOLDIERS COULDN’T HAPPEN WITHOUT THE  FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF MY CUSTOMERS AND FRIENDS, OR THE HIGHLY SKILLED SHIRT MAKING CRAFTSMANSHIP OF THE CUTTERS AND MACHINISTS AT OUR GLOUCESTER FACTORY WHO ARE ALL HERE TONIGHT, AND JOHN FAULKNER’S BEAUTIFUL EBONY WALKING STICKS WHICH HE MAKES FOR US.

SUE SIMPSON FROM LOCK HATS CAME WITH ME TO HEADLEY COURT IN OCTOBER AND AGAIN MADE BESPOKE HATS FOR EVERYONE. ONE PATIENT APPARENTLY WEARS HIS BOWLER  HAT FROM MORNING TO NIGHT!

AND IF YOU NOTICE SEVERAL PARTICULARLY WELL GROOMED YOUNG MEN HERE TONIGHT IT THANKS TO THE FINE WORK OF THE BOND STREET DOLCE AND GABBANA’S MASTER BARBER STEFAN WHO VISITED HEADLEY COURT YESTERDAY FOR THE FIRST TIME, ON HIS DAY OFF, AND WORKED HIS MAGIC ON THEM READY FOR THE PARTY.  I HAVE BEEN WANTING TO INTRODUCE GROOMING AT HEADLEY FOR AGES.  AND FOLLOWING A DISCUSSION WITH OUR CUSTOMER CH2M HILL’S JONATHAN REFOY I WAS INTRODUCED TO STEFAN. WE HAVE STYLE FOR SOLDIERS GROOMING PLANS FOR 2015.

AND TO VERY APTLY END ON THE SWEETEST THING TO HAVE EMERGED FROM THIS STRANGE PERIOD IN MILITARY HISTORY, MAY I INTRODUCE OUR GUEST OF HONOUR TONIGHT , KATH THE QUEEN OF CAKES. KATH HAS BEEN BAKING FOR THE MILITARY PATIENTS OF QUEEN ELIZABETH HOSPITAL IN BIRMINGHAM AND HEADLEY COURT SINCE 2008 AND MADE LITERALLY THOUSANDS OF CAKES FOR OUR INJURED PERSONNEL. SHE IS REALLY LOVED AND HAS BEEN A MOTHER FIGURE TO SO MANY PEOPLE, MAKING THEM CRY WITH LAUGHTER IN THEIR BEDS AT HER HYSTERICAL TALES. SHE IS NORMALLY IN A UNION JACK DRESS WITH ‘HRH OF CAKES’ CROWN, BUT YESTERDAY WAS MOTHER CHRISTMAS AT THE HEADLEY COURT XMAS LUNCH, PROVIDING INFLATABLE SNOWMEN OUTFITS FOR THE NURSES AND ELVES COSTUMES FOR THE MEN!  NO WONDER STEFAN NEEDED TO TAKE CONTROL AFTERWARDS.

I NOW HAND YOU GARTH AND ALISTAIR….

( GARTH BANKS AND ALISTAIR SPEARING SPEECHES)

HAVE A WONDERFUL EVENING, MEET AS MANY NEW PEOPLE AS YOU CAN AS ONE OF THE MAIN AIMS TONIGHT IS TO TO INTRODUCE OUR COURAGEOUS YOUNG SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN, WHO HAVE DEDICATED THEIR YOUNG LIVES FOR OUR SECURITY  AND VERY OFTEN SACRIFICED SO MUCH, TO US IN THE CIVILIAN WORLD WHO CAN NOW HELP THEM FINDING NEW CAREERS AND NEW LIVES.

PLEASE RAISE YOUR GLASSES TO OUR SERVICEMEN AND WOMEN OF WHOM WE ARE SO PROUD, AND TO THEIR FUTURES.