As this is an unofficial site, all mistakes,foul ups and glaring errors are all mine! - BritAngie 
Tom Burke
Visitors since 06/07/14

“When I was at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, Ian McKellen

 went on stage to collect an award and said, "I've been to see Tom

 Burke in a show; a star is born."”  Marc Warren talking about Ian McKellen’s views on Tom. :)

Tom Burke at Carols by Candlelight

You may remember that back in November I posted on the news page that Tom would be attending the Operation Smile ‘Carols By Candlelight’ event in London. A group of us were lucky enough to go along and the below is a report of that day.   Angie’s Carols by Candlelight report (or “How not to end up in A&E in one not so easy step” or “17 Burketeers go mad in London” ) Just a little bit of background before I start my tale. Back in November, Cheryl suggested that we get Tom a Christmas card to give him at the Carols event. This got me thinking that we could probably go one better and have a card filled with messages from us and those who couldn’t make it to the event. This eventually ended up being an A4 size card and an accompanying photo book full of messages from fans. (Thank you Cat they were things of beauty!) I also thought we ought to get Tom a gift and after a few suggestions from Burketeers on the forum we came up with a scarf, a Burketeers badge, a tea hamper and the main present- donations to Operation  Smile in Tom’s name. :) I set the page up on the 27th November and I set the target at a modest £75.00 but within hours it was up to over a £1000 and by the 16th we were up to well over £2000!! We didn’t know if Tom was aware of the fundraising but we had explained what we were doing in the card and book and the Just Giving website address was also in there so he would be able to look after the event. Onto the day itself.... So the day is December 16th and I find myself in London on a surprisingly warm winters afternoon. After spending the morning doing something “cultural” (I went to the British Museum) it is time to meet up with some fellow Burketeers (Tom Burke fans). I’d arranged to hook up with one of our forum mods and friend, Cheryl and her friend Stacey at the hotel they were staying overnight at, the Covent Garden Hotel. Thankfully they turn up on time despite their train breaking down on the way(the knock on effect being it delayed another Burketeer’s train sat behind it in the process.It is one of those days..) Once settled in we try to establish the whereabouts of one of Tom’s gifts for the Service ,which is due to be delivered to the hotel. The elusive Tea Hamper though is nowhere to be found so we decide to go with Plan B and pick up some “back up tea” from nearby Covent Garden. So off we go in search of a posh tea shop, however whilst walking there I decide that the cobbles inside are so facinating they deserve a closer inspection. (Note to self :- new boots with slippy soles and cobbled curbs do not mix!) So I suddenly find myself sprawled on the floor surrounded by alot of concerned strangers. Realise to my horror that I can’t move my knee and I’m not going anywhere any time soon. Thankfully after 5 minutes of being sat on the floor and lots of furious rubbing of said knee I can finally move onto a chair. Feel like a complete and utter numpty. Day is going really well so far... The security guard keeps asking me if I want to go to A & E - but I am not going to spend the rest of the day sat waiting in a busy emergency room. Engage stiff British upper lip and say I’m completely fine. They take my details and the three of us go in search of that tea! Hobble over to Whittards where we find some perfect tea for Tom (One blend was called ‘Gunpowder’ which we felt was wildly appropriate for a Musketeer :D ) We then retire to a nearby restaurant where Cheryl and Stacey have some long delayed lunch and I have a huge hot chocolate because I need some sugar... Ring Shahnaz who sent the tea hamper- she’s tearing her hair out as the couriers are assuring her they delivered the hamper. Fervently hope it arrives by the time we get back to the hotel. We return to the hotel and the poor harrassed concierge assures us that no tea has arrived and that there are no other hotels in London called the Covent Garden hotel so it couldn’t have possibly gone to the wrong hotel.... We then go back to Cheryl’s room and whilst waiting for her to get ready, I catch up on twitter. Discover that Tom has posted a video thanking us all for the donations. Well that settles the “will Tom know about the donations” issue then. :D Show Cheryl the video and she promptly bursts into tears. (Find out later this was not an uncommon reaction amongst Burketeers. :) ) Suddenly it’s time to go. We’ve arranged to meet up with the other 12 Burketeers who have said they are coming along outside of the church at 5.30pm. This is a good hour before the doors open and gives us time to find each other, introduce ourselves, chat and rescue any Burketeers lost on the way there. We get to the church (despite an alarming moment where the taxi driver said “St Botolph without Bishopsgate- um don’t suppose you know the postcode for it to put in the satnav?”) and find a shifty looking group of reprobates- must be our fellow Burketeers! :D Lots of introductions, hugs and chatting ensue and thankfully everyone has got there safely (there were 17 of us in the end as we gained some surprise Burkeeteers and converted a new one to the cause! :D ) Whilst outside I spot someone coming out of the church and realise it must be Kate from Operation Smile who organised the Carols by Candlelight event. I’d arranged beforehand for Kate to hand over the gifts to Tom as I was anxious we didn’t disturb him at the event. I go up to her to say hello and hand over the gift bags etc. She says no she’s not taking them as I’m going to hand them to Tom myself , oh and he’s just texted to say he’s on his way and will be here in 10 minutes. She then literally gleefully runs off! Okay I’m not prepared for this turn of events. I hobble back to the rest of the group and tell them what’s happening. I keep asking if anyone wants to volunteer to hand over the things to Tom but no one wants to volunteer! (LOL! Thanks guys!) Just to explain I’m really shy so I was stood there feeling like I was awaiting execution.. LOL So time passes and suddenly Tom appears from nowhere and Cheryl collars him. He quickly realises we are the Burketeers he was expecting to meet rather than a random mob. :D It’s a bit of a blur at this point but Tom talks about Operation smile, and how much the charity means to him. He then thanks us for the donations and explains how his publicist brought the website to his attention. I then tell him that The Tea Drinkers guide (who kindly donated the elusive ‘Tea hamper of non deliverynous’) have pledged to match the total we raise on the night through fund raising in 2015.(We got to £2500 that night!) At this point Tom says “double?” I repeat “yes double”. He takes a moment for this to sink in. I then hand over our gift bag and Cheryl gives him the “stunt double tea” which he’s very happy about. :D He then declares he has to give us all a hug which he did, then spent some time chatting with us before saying he had to go in to meet up with the Operation Smile people. Deciding to be uncharacteristically brave I ask him if we can have a group photo as I realise we might not have an opportunity later. Photo is posed for and taken(Tom- I have a copy of this if you need it for the restraining order later :D ) then another Burketeer’s husband stops Tom saying his wife is in a coffee shop and she would be really upset she had missed meeting Tom. Tom says this is fine and that he would come find him after the service or vice versa- so divorce crisis is avoided! Tom finally goes in and we wait outside in a queue to go in for the service itself. The church itself is absolutely gorgeous and I’m surprised at how small it actually is. All the Burketeers manage to take up 3-4 rows on one side with Tom a few rows forward from us on the opposite side. As we wait for everything to begin Tom motions to ask if he can open the gifts and we motion back it’s okay. We get a thumbs up and he motions fanning himself whilst reading the card. :D I guess he likes them! At this point the other speakers turn up -Juliet Stevenson and Duncan Bannatyne are also performing readings and the music part of the night provided by the Gospel choir IDMC, with Jahmene Douglas and the childrens choir We Sing U Sing. After the first carol, Tom is up for the first reading of the night. It’s an excerpt from the Narnia books featuring Father Christmas. It’s a lovely piece and as expected Tom gives a lively performance which we all thoroughly enjoy. The evening continues between carols and readings. Sadly Jahmene Douglas hasn’t turned up as he has a throat infection but the lady who stood in for him does a wonderful job. We also get to see a video of what Operation Smile do which underlines the importance of the charity and the huge difference it makes to children’s lives the world over. I gain more admiration for the amazing work these people do. Then there are more carols and then suddenly it’s all over. The next part of the evening is labelled as mingling time with mulled wine... Someone asks from our group if we should go over to Tom but I suggest we stay put and let him come over if he is comfortable to do so. In the meantime lots of mulled wine is consumed(not me- I’m already unsteady on my feet without it!) and then Tom does come over. Lots more chatting ensues. Tom notices that alot of us are wearing leather boots and cheekily implies there is some ‘Sword-fighting-Musket-firing-horse-riding-people’ reason we are all wearing them. (Have no idea what he could be suggesting. ;) ) He chats about having to read through the Carol reading text(to make sure it makes sense!) , auditioning for ‘Elizabeth’, and the movie ‘Look Stranger’. He’s also says about Scottish accents (Saying he’s never done one for a job. I decide not to mention I think he did one  in The Sea Change/Islands :D He also does a spot on Peter Capaldi impersonation.) and not being on social media. He then asks if anyone would like a photo and we all nab ourselves a mug shot with Tom. He makes sure everyone has a photo then it’s time to go as the Caretaker is itching to throw us out (”You lot might not have a home to go to but I do!” .. :D ) We realise it’s now 9.30pm and the whole event was supposed to finish at 8.30pm (oops!) The few of us that are left (many of our group has already left to catch trains) say goodbye to Tom and thank him, then leave and say our goodbyes before heading for the Tube Station. Unfortunately I realise I’m in no state to walk that far so the 5 of us left decide that we will have to get taxis. Whilst still chatting away out front a van pulls up and Tom gets in as he’s getting a lift home by the Operation Smile folk. He gives us a wave goodbye and is gone. We eventually manage to hail a taxi cab and drop Cheryl and Stacey back at the hotel and I head to Waterloo to get the train home.Nearly two hours later and I’m home. I’m exhausted and unable to walk but it’s been a fantastic day and so worth it! And as for the elusive missing tea hamper... well it was delivered to the wrong hotel..! Lessons learned from this year... 1.) Introduce yourself! (As I think we all forgot to! Poor Tom had no idea who we were apart from ‘Generic Random Burketeers.’ :D) 2.) Wax is melty, hot and hurty and not good for your clothes/hair/skin/boots/coat (delete not applicable) Avoid! 3.) Candles! Extreme fire risk. Avoid accidentally setting alight fellow Burketeers hair in front of you or the ignition risk from hairspray fumes :D Suggest bringing battery operated ones next year! 4.) Bring medical team - after my tumble, one Burketeer with what turned out to be Pneumonia (!) and another with a bad tummy I suggest we employ a medical team on hand to assist in times of dire need! 5.) Limit on mulled wine intake (:D ) 6.) Name badges. This will assist with point 1 and help Burketeers with the “you now have to remember 17 peoples names in 3 minutes” challenge :D 7.) New boots- preferably leather Musketeer issue. This is obviously where I went wrong with my rebellious suede choice. 8.) Bribe Caretaker. ;) 9.) Bring more chocolate. 10.) Get Hamper sent to right hotel! :D 11.) More tea- you can never have too much tea. :D (Big thank you to to all the lovely Burketeers who turned up and who generously donated their photos. Huge thanks to Kate from Operation Smile and last but by no means least, a massive thank you to Tom for being so patient and good to us. :) )
St Botolph without Bishopsgate - Venue for Operation Smile's Carols by Candlelight Tom after the Carol service (Photo courtesy of Drifty) Tom after the carols Tom outside the church Tom after the carols (Photo courtesy of Nicola B) Tom outside the church Tom outside the church (photo courtesy of Lesley Danks) Tom inside the church (Photo Courtesy of Lesley Danks) Tom with Tea! (Photo courtesy of Nicola B) Tom with tea! (Photo Courtesy of Hannah H) Tom after the carols (Photo courtesy of Hannah H) Tom inside the church (Photo Courtesy of Lesley Danks) Tom with his Burketeers outside the Church Tom with Tea! (Photo courtesy of Nicola B) Tom inside the church (Photo Courtesy of Lesley Danks) Tom after the carols (photo courtesy of Drifty ) Tom inside the church (Photo courtesy of Nicola B) Tom inside the church (Photo courtesy of Nicola B) Tom outside the Church (Photo courtesy of AnnieA) Tom inside the church (Photo Courtesy of Lesley Danks) Tom inside the church Tom inside the church during the mingling. (Photo courtesy of Lesley Danks) Tom inside the church (Photo courtesy of Nicola B)