Monday, 24 May 2010

Happy Birthday Ham House!

Yesterday was wonderful. A fantastic day when all of our ideas and plans came together in a glorious gathering. Once again the sun beat down and over the course of a long, hot afternoon we celebrated both the house's 400th birthday and also many of the diverse communities that go to make Ham a very special part of South West London.

Once again the students played a blinder, hosting each of the groups who came to perform or demonstrate their activity - bands, laughter yogis, stilt walkers, bell ringers, free runners, dirt bike riders, martial artists and even the hard nosed Morris dancers who had to be tactfully coaxed out of The New Inn in order to perform. It all built up to Ben and Jennie's superb children's story How Happy Birthday was Lost and Found, which segued neatly into the procession and the march on the house, where twenty local choirs were strategically dotted around the gardens singing their hearts out. By the time we set off we'd gathered over 500 and radioing ahead we learnt that a further 2,500 were waiting for us to arrive.

The procession itself was a brilliant rag taggle affair with flags waving, horns honking, bubbles blowing, chants, whistles and drums. With some of the choirs encouraged to do encores we had to hold up before crossing Sandy Lane. Worried that we'd lost momentum Chantelle improvised a call and response with a megaphone. It was a smart move and kept everybody in great and noisy spirits

Slowly we made our way down Melancholy Walk to the South Gates which were only ever opened for great ceremonial occasions. There we were greeted by the Euphonix choir who led us through the Wilderness and onto the beautiful lawns at the back of the property.

The band struck up and together we all sang Never Forget, Our House and Happy Birthday before leaving the slightly drunk, sun struck Morris men to play in front of the biggest audience of their lives! Whilst we, not before time, hit the BBQ and the beer tent. Nobody could stop smiling.

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