Lady Westbury


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Colour photograph of a man and woman. The man on the right is dressed as a clown. The woman on the left is wearing a foam red nose.
Superintendent-in-Chief, Lady Westbury, with clown David Barnes just before the Great St John Party, 1987 Image courtesy of the Museum of the Order of St John
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They had a huge thing at Wembley, organised by somebody called Michael Parker, which was to raise money for all the widows. And we went, and Michael Parker did it, and they had 2000 bandsman with one conductor. And it was the most magical, magical evening, and it was all done by this guy called Michael Parker. And I said to David, “I think I’d like to do that, something like that for the centenary.” And he said, “Well, why not? Let’s get hold of Michael Parker”, which we did. Because David, by that time, was Bailiff of Egle. So he had a bit of influence and he was also in the House of Lords, which also helped. And so, we got hold of Michael Parker and I said, “Two years’ time, it’s going to be 100 years for St John. Do you think we could do it at Wembley?” And he looked at me and said, “Don’t be ridiculous. Wembley isn’t big enough.” And I said, “I can’t think of anywhere else.” “Oh, take Hyde Park”, he said. “You’ve got to be joking.” “No, I’m not. No, I’m not. Of course, we’ll do it. We’ll make it then biggest children’s birthday party in the world.”

We had a nine-mile sausage, which Lord Vestey gave us and we cooked – there were fifty Boy Scouts and they cooked it on a Dexion frying pan. 100,000 slices of Mother’s Pride bread.  I can’t remember how much mustard, Coleman’s mustard.  And we were given all this stuff.

Excerpt courtesy of Ursula Westbury