…after the plants” comment from visitor collecting a bag at the cloakroom.
For the last 5 years, through all the vagaries of the British climate, Plant Heritage volunteers and staff have manned the Chelsea cloakroom. This isn’t the loos as some people think, but the dropping off point for everything that visitors don’t want to carry around with them; coats – regardless of the weather, suitcases – from those who have made an overnight stay, picnics – to be eaten by the well organised, briefcases and laptops – belonging to office workers visiting at the end of a day’s work, and the inevitable purchases – Dubarry boots are our favourite, but we also look after the lethal looking metal spikes which seemed to be very popular this year.
From first thing in the morning
to last thing at night, our volunteers worked their socks off.
Some visitors regularly visit their bags, adding or subtracting coats, cameras and comfortable shoes. At lunchtime they retrieve their picnics and we see them again when they have bought an unwieldy bird feeder. By the end of the day they are greeted as friends as they collect 5 or 6 items. They are always delighted to have been able to see the show unburdened by baggage and we are very appreciative of their donations. This year in particular with the hot, hot, hot weather all week, the cloakroom has seen an increase in the number of items left. No one believed the forecast on Tuesday and brought their winter coats, resulting in a record 6 full racks of them and on Thursday I even saw a man’s shirt hanging on the coat rails.
Our fantastic team of volunteers, many of whom are 5 year veterans, have over the years raised in excess of £22,000 in donations with a record £4,700 in 2012. Not one item has been lost, although at the end of the day we always have a few uncollected items which go into RHS lost property. Nor has anyone been tempted either by the wonderful smells coming from the picnics or the gold foil tops of champagne bottles peeking out of the top of chiller bags. Many thanks to everyone involved and here’s to 2013.
P.S. After banking all the pennies, total raised now stands at £4800. Great stuff.