(if you click on the above banner it should take you straight to the Help for Heroes shop)
Sometimes, I have these great ideas. I visualise in my head how it’s going to work out, and yet somehow, it just doesn’t play out how it was supposed to in my cotton candy, idealist, fantasies. So…… I have been talking with Help for Heroes for a while, and we thought it would be great if we could bring The Grenade and The Menace into H4H Downton HQ to check out their range of Father’s Day gift ideas so they could pick a gift for Hagar for Father’s Day. Hagar is off to the Afghan beach sometime soon, and so, I thought, I might, perhaps, buy him something from the children to mark this day of dads. To make it more of a laugh, H4H very generously agreed for Hero the bear to turn up too, to make the children’s Father’s Day present picking a veritable fun-filled treat.
Help for Heroes have taken over a business park in Downton, Wiltshire and has recently moved the majority of their staff over from their ‘Tin Hut’ origins in Tidworth. The H4H Tin Hut in Tidworth is manned by volunteers and showcases the meteoric and emotional rise of Help for Heroes. (If you are ever passing Tidworth then pop in. There is a shop there with a range of H4H’s great products to buy.) We were meeting Gaynor, the head of Trading at H4H HQ.
This was the plan: kids, Hagar and me visit H4H HQ, meet Hero the Bear, look at the Father’s Day pressies on display and kids choose Daddy a gift, whilst being delightful and engaging performing monkeys. Then I record the momentous occasion and share it on the blog with you all.
Well, it sort of worked out like that. Apart from….
The Menace fell sleep in the car so had to be awoken on arrival. She was very grumpy. The lovely comms team tried to cheer her up by bribing her with a lolly. Then she freaked out when she saw Alfred the border terrior and started squealing. Sharp exit out of comms and a quick dash across the car park we were at the hub of the H4H trading, warehousing and distribution. The trading outfit of H4H turnovers around Â£7 million per annum, and funds the operating costs of the charity so that all the fundraising goes directly to those who need it most. It is managed wholly out of the Downton HQ. As we made our way into the office Hero the bear, was sat in a chair with his head on her lap.
“Look mummy, Hero the Bear is a women,” squealed The Grenade. Fortunately, The Menace didn’t see the red headed young lady that was sporting the gigantic bear suit. We quietly backed out of the room ready to come again in when Hero the Bear had his head on.
As we walked in to Gaynor’s office to meet Hero the Bear, The Menace retracted herself further and further into Hagar’s shoulder and refused to play ball. I felt it was going really well so far. Gaynor’s office was an Aladdin’s cave of Father’s Day gifts from H4H i-phone covers to the great range of Hoodies for him. (I have to confess I did pick myself a Honeysuckle Pink hoody. I couldn’t resist which I spied on the way in. Ladies – I do recommend you have look at the lady hoodies – very nice with some great colours – I digress).
Before I could turn my attention to what we were buying for daddy, I was still trying to get a Santa shot of The Menace and Hero the Bear. However, this was the best I could do. (Excuse Hagar’s face – that is my rapid editing on the hoof with the anti red-eye pen. He’s serving though so it wouldn’t be right to reveal him.)
The Menace was not loving Hero at all – poor Hero 🙁 In the end, we had to behead Hero to try and reassure her that it was fine really. He’s a lovely bear. The Grenade couldn’t wait to get his hands on Hero’s head.
In the end, I did manage to get a decent pic of The Grenade with Hero the Bear (after threatening to cancel his pending birthday if he didn’t sing for his supper. It’s amazing what he’ll do when this threat is issued.)
Eventually, we ushered Hagar out of the room and relieved Hero the Bear of her duties, whilst the children chose Daddy’s pressies. This involved sticking lolly over them. Noooooo! Aaargh!!
During the choosing The Grenade freezed, clenched his butt cheeks and then farted very loudly! As the stench wafted around the room, I was so embarrassed. Gaynor fortunately has a grandson, so smiled sympathetically as her lovely office is polluted by my vile child.
“What are you doing?” I exclaimed with horror.
“Ah c’mon I am your son after all, mummy,” he retorted.
“What is that supposed to mean? I don’t bottom burp in people’s offices!!” I was so appalled by his behaviour but also slightly flabbergasted by his complete lack of disregard that I realise that it really is just time to pick the pace up and get the truck out of there. This is certainly something to be dealt with elsewhere and not so publicly.
The Grenade choose a H4H water bottle and towel, which is great and just what Hagar will need when he is pumping iron at the Afghan beach, amongst his other war-fighting duties. (Clearly, I am being glib and trying to make light of it. Hagar is going to there for the 7th time. There is a war on but my philosophy is there is no use worrying about things you can’t control.)
And The Menace chose these great cufflinks, which will be the perfect acoutrement to his best mess dress.
Once the whole experience is drawing to a close The Grenade squeezed out one last bottom burp for good measure and I give him a ‘just you wait until I get you home you little bugger’ look! All I can think of is Jake from Two and a Half Men shrieking, ” I am baking air biscuits – get them while they are hot!”
Very embarrassed I quickly usher my two little non-performing monkeys out of Trading, apologising profusely to Gaynor, and head over to reception to purchase our gifts.
At reception, there are even more goodies and so I grab myself so H4H oven gloves for good measure and also to make up for the unannounced gassing of the head of Trading’s office.
It wasn’t so much of a sacrifice. Who knew? I did not know that there was so much good stuff at the H4H shop. I am surprised because I have supported the charity since the outset and I am a military wife so you think that I would be paying more attention. Father’s Day is on the 19th June – even if you think that it’s a trite, exploitation created by retailers to boost sales then at least spend your pennies with H4H and help support our sick, injured and wounded serving peeps.