Royal connection uncovered at Oving celebration

Oving Jubilee Hall was was laid out like a street party and bedecked in Union Flag bunting
Oving Jubilee Hall was was laid out like a street party and bedecked in Union Flag bunting
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Oving Jubilee Hall was decked out in Union Flag bunting on Thursday as the parish celebrated the Queen’s 90th birthday.

In time-honoured fashion, the hall was laid out like a street party as, though the sun shone, it was a little too chilly outside for many of the parish pensioners and their guests.

Douglas Steeds had a Royal Warrant for the Queen's dry cleaning, issued on January 1, 2002

Douglas Steeds had a Royal Warrant for the Queen's dry cleaning, issued on January 1, 2002

The 72 revellers were treated to sandwiches, scones, clotted cream with strawberries, courtesy of Hall Hunter Partnership, and gallons of tea to wash it all down.

The event was sponsored by Mercedes of Chichester, which funded much of the food and provided a fine prize for the raffle, staged in aid of Macmillan Cancer Nurses and raising £202.

Special guest councillor Clare Apel selected Ken Strudwick as best-dressed partygoer.

There was a display of Coronation mugs - possibly achieving a world record for the most in one place on the day!

Liz Smith, founder of Oving Community Watch and the monthly Oving tea parties, was delighted with the turnout and particularly appreciative of the memorabilia many took along for the Back In Time exhibition.

It turned out one of the revellers, Douglas Steeds, had a Royal Warrant for the Queen’s dry cleaning, issued on January 1, 2002. Mr Steeds said it was a great honour as he had been Her Majesty’s dry cleaner for at least ten years before.

His shop, called Mr Steeds, was based in Clapham, with another branch in Mitcham. It was a unique building, being a former bank building with secure vaults, where the Queen’s clothes and ball gowns were stored.

Mr Steeds started from a humble background, being brought up in Clapham, and was evacuated to north Wales during World War Two when he was four.

He opened his dry cleaning business in 1975 and for years developed his own unique way of cleaning silks, becoming a specialist in this subject with clients like Hermès of Paris.

Well known throughout the West End, he cleaned for many of the rich and famous for years, including Margaret Thatcher - and in those days, he could deliver right to the front door at 10 Downing Street.

He cleaned for Princess Margaret long before the Queen and attended Kensington Palace on many an occasion.

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