And so, after a short and quick 12 months, it was time to set sail on the SS Periwinkle along the River Medway, mooring at the Chatham Naval Dockyard before finally arriving at the Holiday Inn next to Rochester Airport for this year’s Helpmates Convention on Saturday 29 October.
Following on from last year’s successful Halloween theme, Rob was ‘all at sea’ when deciding on a theme for this year, so what better films to watch than those with a maritime feel to them! How many can you think of?
Again, there was an excellent turnout with Sons travelling the length and breadth of the country – Durham, Bristol, Brighton, Southend and all places in between, not forgetting Bill Winfield who came all the way from Cyprus! Among those attending were L&H experts/authors including David Wyatt, Russell Babidge, Glenn Mitchell, Antony & Joanne Mitchell-Waite, Dave Tomlinson, Mark & Teresa Hammond and Roger Robinson. Accompanying Roger was Ron Stokoe who transported Stan and Ollie around Southend in his taxi during their visit in 1952. It was also good to see Ray Andrew who, despite being busy working on the new Mary Poppins movie, found the time to call in.
Several of those attending entered into the spirit of the theme by dressing up a la Men O’War etc. as can be seen in the photos. We were also treated to an appearance from Oliver Hardy himself courtesy of our very own Gregg Taylor, who is proving to be a very dedicated and, dare I say it, knowledgeable member. Unfortunately, Stan Laurel had gotten him into another nice mess and ship-hiked elsewhere, but fingers crossed for next year.
AT 11.30 AM THE DOORS OPENED FOR CHECK IN.
Gregg also kept the films running smoothly in film room 2, while film room 1 was under the expert supervision of Richard Ellis who works tirelessly compiling the films and supplying all the equipment. As always, a big thank you is deserved to Richard.
If you’ve ever wanted to own an original piece of artwork, the opportunity was available from ace caricaturist Rich Nairn aka The Artful Doodler who, in just a matter of minutes, would draw a caricature of you, with a Laurel and Hardy theme if requested, for just £5!! The results were superb. Check out his website www.theartfuldoodler.co.uk
Lots more items of merchandise were available in the ever-popular sales room, ably manned throughout the day by Kay Towsey and Gemma Sycamore. Many items are available through the Helpmates website, but there are always unique and rare items available only at these events. To get them, you have to be there!
A new and ambitious idea this year involved a live video link-up from California with renowned Laurel and Hardy author Randy Skretvedt, who has recently released ‘The Ultimate Edition’ of his excellent book The Magic Behind the Movies. He was also on hand, together with Dave Wyatt and Glenn Mitchell, for a presentation/discussion on the various releases of Laurel and Hardy films on 8mm over the years. Special thanks to Russell Babidge who ensured the technology all came together for this live link-up and, of course, extra special thanks to Randy for being a part of this feature.
Laurel and Hardy Helpmates Convention Gallery
just click on the images below:
No Helpmates Convention is complete without the raffle. A big thank you to Celia Attree helped by Rhiannon who both spent the day selling raffle tickets to everyone and everything that moved!! There’s always a good selection of prizes, with this year definitely being no exception. Apart from posters, DVDs, pictures, chocolates, wine, the top prizes included the book ‘The Comedy World of Stan Laurel’ by John McCabe signed by the man himself, and a copy of the aforementioned The Magic Behind the Movies by Randy Skretvedt. The latter was won by Saps at Sea Grand Sheik Paul Allen. Thank you to everyone who donated prizes and who bought tickets.
Doing a sterling job as emcee throughout the day was Kevin Doig who also gave a very interesting presentation about Dante the Magician and, in particular, the Inflato money-making machine as seen in A-Haunting We Will Go. We learnt that this machine and similar versions of it were actually used in years past to con people out of money and are still used in magic acts today. Being a magician himself, Kevin was able to bring along the machine owned by the Magic Circle to show us, which was the same version (not the actual) as used by Dante in A-Haunting We Will Go.
As ever, none of these events would take place without the enormous amount of organising and effort put in by the indefatigable Rob Lewis and, of course his family including wife Gill, daughters Claire & Gemma and others. On behalf of everyone there, a big big thank you Rob for continuing to ensure we can all gather for what are always memorable and enjoyable Conventions.
Watch this space for details of next year’s event. If you’ve never been, you won’t regret the decision to join us for a day of fun and laughter!
BS. How many of these films with a ‘sea’ theme did you think of? Two Tars, Men O’War, Towed in a Hole, Any Old Port, The Live Ghost, Saps at Sea and Our Relations.
ED NOTE: And thank you Howard for helping over the weekend, also our younger helpers, Bethany, Thomas, Josh and Rhiannon, Thanks to Phil and Debs Lansdown for helping me load my car going home .
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2015 CONVENTION REPORT PLUS PHOTOS
2014 CONVENTION REPORT AND PHOTOS
WHAT HAPPENED MAY 26th 2013
WHAT HAPPENED 2012
HELPMATES PAST EVENTS
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