Today the Chelsea Pensioners celebrated the annual ‘Ceremony of the Christmas Cake’.
The ceremony which began in 1949 is a symbol of the enduring friendship between the UK and Australia. Each year a sizable Christmas cake is donated to the Chelsea Pensioners by a different State of Australia.
This year the cake was presented by Mr Ken Smith of the Government of Queensland, who said: “The annual cake ceremony at the Royal Hospital Chelsea is a great tradition which allows Australians, and this year Queenslanders, to remember the significant comradeship between our two nations forged in two world wars and strengthened as close allies through various periods of our shared history.
We can be justifiably proud of our democratic institutions, the primacy of the rule of law, freedom of religion and association and establishing strong enduring civil societies in both Australia and Britain.”
The cake, playfully decorated with ‘Finding Nemo’ fish and a Koala bear, was ceremonially cut by Chelsea Pensioner Norman Cockburn (pictured below with this year's cake) who has a strong connection with Australia as he lived there for a number of years.
Norman said: “I lived in Australia for eight years and I travelled quite extensively around Queensland. I am very honoured to be cutting the cake – if it’s anything for the Australian people then I am really happy to do it. I still go out there occasionally to see my daughter; I really do love the place. The Royal Hospital is a wonderful home and the pensioners really enjoy the traditions in the run up to Christmas. The cake couldn’t be donated to a nicer cause.”
Previous cake designs have included a fortress and a cake cut out in the shape of Australia. The cake will be divided up and put out over the Christmas period so all of the Chelsea Pensioners can enjoy a piece.
Chelsea Pensioner and former Typex Operator Helen Andrews visits the famous codebreaker site
Chelsea Pensioners have recognised the work efforts of staff who will be working over the Christmas period