Firefighter Jasper hands over Portsmouth OAP party torch
HE HAS been hosting parties for thousands of Portsmouth's elderly residents for more than a decade.
But now Southsea firefighter Jasper Taylor is handing over the reins of the popular OAP Party to his successor.
Jasper, 59, of Portchester, is giving up his role ahead of his retirement later this year, leaving the annual fun in the capable hands of colleague Beth Medway, 31.
He finished his final event at Portsmouth’s Guildhall last week on a high, in front of a record-breaking crowd of about 360 pensioners.
Reflecting on the party, Jasper said: ‘It was emotional to think that that was my last show that I have had a hand in organising.
‘It won’t be my last show that I will have anything to do with. I will probably be back helping with the washing-up.’
The show has been running for 36 years, starting in the upstairs room of Southsea fire station in Somers Road.
Packed full of slapstick entertainment, the event soon proved popular with the city’s elderly residents. It expanded from the station into the Pyramids Centre before finding its new home in the Guildhall.
As well as being a opportunity for people to have a good laugh, it was also a chance to offer lonely people a way out of the isolation of their home.
Jasper said: ‘For some of them, this is their only excursion opportunity they get all year.
‘A lot of them are very lonely as well. This is a chance for them to engage with other people in the same situation and make new friends.’
This year’s action saw raunchy performances from firefighters as well as more polished routines from dance groups in the city.
In total, guests munched their way through 700 sausage rolls, 46 loaves of bread and several bottles of sherry.
And although almost a year away, the show’s new organiser, Beth, hopes 2018 will be the biggest one yet.
She said: ‘I didn’t realise how much Jasper did. I am excited and it’s good. As stressful as it is in the run-up to it, on the day everything just seems to fall into place.
‘The old people just love it. They are all singing and dancing and shouting “get your kit off!”. They have got no boundaries.’
The next show will be held at Guildhall, on January 21 , 2018 from 2pm to 5pm.