Hammersmith & Fulham Council is set to star in London’s world famous New Year’s Day parade, with 10,000 performers.
For the first time in years, the council is entering a float in the parade that encapsulates all elements of this year’s theme of the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. All of the London boroughs are invited to take part every year.
Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, Cllr Frances Stainton, will be on the float with her mayoress and consorts, curator of the Buckingham Palace 2012 summer exhibition: 'Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration', and Olympic gold medal winning rower, Ben Hunt-Davis, who is an ambassador for next year’s games.
Accompanying them will be Albert and Friends’ Instant Circus and 27-year-old Manindra (Mani) Rai, a Ghurkha soldier who was shot while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, representing H&F Mayor’s charity, Walking with the Wounded.
Mani is a member of the charity’s 2012 Everest expedition team that is attempting to get four wounded servicemen at the top of the tallest mountain in the world. He is bringing to life Walking with the Wounded’s logo of a fearless soldier as he will be wearing arctic clothing while pulling a Scandinavian sled, called a pulk.
Mani said: “When I first became injured, I felt that there was not a great deal of prospect for me. However this challenge has really made me realise that injured servicemen can really achieve just as much as those who are able bodied.”
Cllr Stainton said: “Everest is a symbol of endeavour, and Endeavour is what Hammersmith & Fulham aspires to, which is of course at the heart of both the Olympic games and the charity’s challenge. Courage is catching and we hope our float, which will cost the resident taxpayer nothing, will give the crowd lots of fun and will inspire people.”
Other nods to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the float include a life-size picture of the Queen, donated by the Royal Collection, and a rhino made of grass that echoes the moment Her Majesty became Queen, while on safari in Africa.
Some of the performers from H&F will be wearing t-shirts with a diamond crown while the front of the float features a large crown, specially made by local milliner, Isabelle Mazzitelli.
The crown will be made from purple velvet, large diamond jewels and is based on the crown jewels, in particular two royal crowns – the imperial state crown that the Queen wears for the state opening of parliament, and the crown of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen mother, which is a coronet consisting of diamonds alone.
Isabelle, whose label is called Izzy Mazz and was taught by the Queen’s former milliner and former Christian Dior millinery designer, Marie O’Regan, said: “I got involved as my children have grown up in Albert & Friends’ Instant Circus, and I started working with them in 1993 making hats, and became a milliner through it. I will definitely be there at the parade – I certainly couldn’t miss it now!”
The borough’s most famous link to the Olympics is that it hosted the first modern day Olympics, as we know it, in White City in 1908. This will be reflected in the costumes and colours the children from the circus will be wearing, along with some circus rings, to symbolise the Olympic rings.
The H&F float has been created at no cost to the taxpayer, thanks to artificial grass company Easigrass’s sponsorship of the float, and their loan of a grass rhino and a horse, to depict equestrian sports, favoured by the Queen.
The parade starts at 11.45am on Piccadilly and finishes around 3pm at Parliament Square, and is expected to draw crowds of half a million along the two-mile route.