Two Associations (Chatham & Aylesford and Tonbridge & Malling) had worked together to arrange this event, and we had invited (free of charge) over 200 constituents who were born during or before WWI. Quick mental arithmatic will show that these people would all be at least 95 years of age, many much older. The big surprise to me was that there were over 200! They were also invited to bring a family member or carer to assist them. We also invited (again free of charge) representatives from various British Legion branches and other veterans' groups, to thank them for their courage and service.
Local Conservative Party members paid £5 per head supplement to cover the cost of providing the delicious selection of sandwiches, scones, clotted cream and cakes for our guests. Many local businesses, including Waitrose, Tesco and Hugh Lowe Farms, donated scones, clotted cream, cakes and fresh strawberries. Former Association President, Cllr Peter Homewood, personally covered the cost of printing and posting the 200 invitations. As well as raising enough money to provide a free afternoon tea for all our guests, we were also able to donate £1000 to Royal British Legion Industries for the WWI Memorial Gardens.
Sir Nicholas Soames was a real star - he spent two hours here, chatting to every veteran and sharing his own memories of Sir Winston Churchill. He met two ladies who had grown up in Westerham and used to play with him and his sister in the gardens of Chartwell; a lovely co-incidence.
The real star of the show, however, was not Sir Nicholas Soames, or Tracey Crouch or Tom Tugendhat. It was Mrs Freda McGregor - who proudly announced that she was 103 years of age. She was born in 1910 - and she remembers the celebrations at the end of the war. She was as sharp as a button, ate everything in front of her - and even took home a "doggy bag" as "at 103 I don't do much baking now".
It really was a great honour to help organise today's activities. Politics really can be a force for good - two of my local Associations made me very proud today.
|Our eldest guests, Mrs Freda McGregor, who told Sir Nicholas Soames that she was 103.|
|From left: Tracey Crouch MP, Sir Nicholas Soames MP, Steve Sherry CMG OBE (Chief Executive of Royal British Legion Industries) and Tom Tuggendhat MBE.|
|A very rare photograph; Khobi Vallis (from Tracey Crouch's office) with her mouth closed. .|
|Tom Tugendhat holding court.|