Above: Mayor of H&F, Cllr Frances Stainton, on the float at the New Year's Day parade
Hammersmith & Fulham Council celebrated coming fourth in the council’s competition in the world famous New Year’s Day parade.
The council, which was one of 19 to take part with a float in the event’s march, was given £4,000 towards the Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham’s chosen charity, Walking with the Wounded. The winner was Westminster City Council, whose float was Peter Pan.
It was the first time in years that the council entered a float in the parade, encapsulating all elements of the parade’s theme - the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The parade stretched two-miles through the centre of London, from Piccadilly to Parliament Square, and drew a crowd of up to half a million. There were more than 8,500 performers on the day.
Mayor of Hammersmith & Fulham, Cllr Frances Stainton, was 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 was Albert and Friends’ Instant Circus with a team of stilt-walkers, and 27-year-old Manindra (Mani) Rai, a Ghurkha soldier who was shot while serving in Afghanistan in 2010, representing the Mayor’s charity.
The float also had a replica of Everest, which was conquered by Sir Edmund Hillary in 1953, the same year as the Queen’s coronation. The mountain’s royal connections continue, as HRH Prince Harry is patron of the Everest 2012 challenge.
“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 cost the resident taxpayer nothing, gave the crowd lots of fun and will inspire people.”
Other nods to the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the float included a life-size picture of the Queen, donated by the Royal Collection, and a rhino made of grass that echoed the moment Her Majesty became Queen, while on safari in Africa.
Some of the performers from H&F wore t-shirts with a diamond crown, while the front of the float featured a large crown, specially made by local milliner, Isabelle Mazzitelli.
The crown was made from purple velvet, large diamond jewels and was 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.”
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 was also reflected in the costumes and colours the children from the circus wore, along with some circus rings, to symbolise the Olympic rings.
The H&F float was 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.