It’s true – Westminster councillors are as mad as Hatters

Cheshire Cat grins all round as council’s Alice in Wonderland float scoops New Year’s Parade first prize

COUNCILLORS are often described as living in their own “wonderland” – so it will come as no surprise to many that Westminster’s were crowned winners of the New Year’s Day Parade for their Alice-inspired float.

While council meetings may or may not resemble the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, there was no denying the councillors’ eccentric side as they donned costumes from Lewis Carroll’s iconic children’s book.

Deputy leader Cllr Robert Davis hosted the party as the Mad Hatter. Cllr Nickie Aiken dressed as Alice, while Cllr Daniel Astaire stood on top of the “unbirthday” cake dressed as the white rabbit.

Other characters included strategic director Alastair Gilchrist as the Walrus and Cllr Steve Summers and Cllr Andrew Smith as Tweedledum and Tweedledee.

Cllr Davis said: “It was fun. I did a little research on both film versions beforehand and I think my Mad Hatter was more of the Johnny Depp style. I think I looked a bit like him.

“It’s nice to show our light-hearted sides. My colleagues and I usually behave a little bit better when we have tea together though.”

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The float – part of the parade’s 25th anniversary – impressed judges enough to beat dozens of other entries.

It won the �7,000 first prize which will be donated to Westminster Lord Mayor Cllr Judith Warner’s chosen charity – the St John’s Hospice in St John’s Wood.

Cllr Davis said: “We were thrilled to win the first prize and are grateful to all those who gave up their time and put so much into the make-up and costumes.

“As international goodwill ambassador for the parade, it never ceases to amaze and impress me how many high quality performers from all over the world come together to celebrate the New Year in Westminster.”

The Westminster float saw the bottom of the cake sprinkled with silver-coloured dusting to mark the parade’s anniversary. Sylvia Young Theatre School pupils also joined in dressed as flowers.

St John’s Hospice business manager Steve Barnes said: “This is a wonderful start to 2011.

“We are so grateful to Alice, the Mad Hatter, the council and especially the Lord Mayor for choosing us as one of her charities this year.

“Every donation helps us to carry on providing high quality services to terminally ill people in Westminster and beyond.”

He also appealed for people to donate unwanted Christmas presents and clothing to the St John’s Hospice charity shop in St John’s Wood High Street.

More than half a million spectators packed the two-mile parade route through London to see 10,000 performers represent 20 countries worldwide.