Skippy and the Annual Christmas Cake Ceremony

Arthur ‘Skippy’ Teasdale now has a new piece of Australian memorabilia to add to his collection at the Royal Hospital Chelsea – his namesake, a small toy Kangaroo.

Today, the Government of South Australia and the South Australian Branch of the Returned and Services League of South Australia (RSL) celebrated the annual Christmas Cake Ceremony with the Chelsea Pensioners.

Each year the annual ceremony passes between the States of Australia and the Australian Defence Force. A large Christmas cake is donated to the Chelsea Pensioners to be enjoyed throughout the festive season. With Vili’s Pies, Jacobs Creek and bottles of Coopers beer being served around the room it was very clearly a South Australian-hosted event.

The tradition began in 1949 as a symbol of the enduring friendship between Australia and the United Kingdom. This year’s cake was a large red cake (pictured below) shaped in the Adelaide logo, wishing the Chelsea Pensioner’s a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

The morning included a short ceremony and a sing-along to Waltzing Matilda followed by the national anthems. The music was performed by the Countess of Wessex’s String Orchestra, which forms part of Buckingham Palace’s musical ensemble.

After an introduction from the Lieutenant Governor, the Agent General for South Australia, Bill Muirhead AM welcomed guests on behalf of South Australia.

“Welcome to the Annual Cake Ceremony, please enjoy the South Australian delicacies and have a Merry Christmas.”

“I had been thinking of changing this annual tradition to a pie ceremony.  But I thought better of it.”

“Our two Nations are great friends.  We have an enduring and friendly rivalry – well sometimes it’s friendly, apart from cricket and rugby.”

The Agent General then invited Chelsea Pensioner, Arthur ‘Skippy’ Teasdale to cut the Christmas cake. Skippy joined the Royal Air Force in 1948 as a National Serviceman. After multiple postings with the Air Force and Army he emigrated to Australia in 1966. He took up residence in Adelaide and lived there for forty-four years until July 2010 when he returned to the UK to become a Chelsea Pensioner.

Following the presentation of a small toy Kangaroo, Skippy smiled from ear to ear, not letting his namesake go throughout the morning describing his gift as “Absolutely magic, just magic.”

Guests included Commissioner of the Royal Hospital, The Worshipful Mayor of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, the Australian High Commissioner, Agents General for Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland and Quebec, as well as Australia House and Australian Defence Force staff.

The Office of the Agent General was on hand to welcome guests, encourage the Pensioners to give Aussie pies a go, and wish the community a Merry Christmas.

Check out the gallery on our event page.

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