What would you get if The Royal Variety Show and Carry On Matron had a baby? The answer is probably pretty close to the 37th annual pensioners’ party put on by Hampshire firefighters. The Rocky Horror Show, Bohemian Rhapsody and some strangeness involving beach balls and tutus were among the highlights of the dazzling show.
Crews from Southsea Fire Station organised 14 acts, a buffet and a raffle for more than 350 pensioners from Portsmouth. Firefighters took to stage as bawdy dance troupes, bawdy singers, bawdy magicians and bawdy comedians. There were also performances by groups connected to the station.
Chief Fire Officer Neil Odin was selected from the audience to assist with a ‘knife-throwing’ event. The party, held at Portsmouth Guildhall yesterday, was organised by firefighters Beth Medway and Vinnie Nicolls.
Firefighter Medway said: “Everyone is having a fantastic day. I think this showcases the ways in which firefighters help the community that not everyone is aware of.” She went on to say that all the firefighters and performers had given up their own time and worked on a voluntary basis for the show which was paid for by fundraising.
CFO Odin said: “This is a great day. This a long-standing tradition in the area. I am extremely proud of our firefighters. This is one of the reasons they occupy such a special place in the people of Hampshire’s hearts.” He and the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Councillor Ken Ellcome also presented a special award to Margaret Aldridge who worked for Portsmouth Fire Service in World War II. She said her role was to drop off firefighters at incidents and later bring them meals and drinks on the incident ground. She was also involved in other support work such as running out hose and dealing with the machinery.
One guest Shirley Lock, 76, from Portsea, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the show. It was wonderful that they do this kind of thing. Most people have no idea.”
Sheila Roy, 63, from Milton, added: “As you get older it is great to have something extra to go out and do. Everyone here has old fashioned values – we all talk to each other.”
When the show started it was held at Southsea Fire Station before moving to a larger home at the Pyramids Centre. However, as the demand grew the event moved to its current location and the tickets still sold out. Firefighter Medway’s army of helpers included retired firefighters such as Jasper Taylor, who handed over the reins last year, and Pete Kavanagh and Jack Frost, who have been involved with the event since it began.
For more information on Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, visit: www.hantsfire.gov.uk
Image provided by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.