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This article relies on references to primary sources or sources affiliated with the subject. Please add more appropriate citations from reliable sources. (June 2009) The Grand Order of Water Rats is an entertainment industry charity, and brotherhood, based in London. The Water Rats were founded in 1889 by comedian Joe Elvin.[1] The first King Rat, as the head of the charity is termed, was music hall singer Harry Freeman. Comedian Dan Leno joined in 1890 and was an early King Rat in 1891, and again in 1892 and 1897.[2] The post is usually for one year. Contents 1 Members 2 Origin of the name 3 References 4 External links Members Membership is limited to 200 long-serving male members of the industry. Some are household names but many are not, but all must be respected and trusted by their peers. Joining the Order is an exclusive and complicated process which involves finding a proposer and seconder within the Order, consideration by the Order's Grand Council and finally a vote which needs a large majority for success. The present King Rat (2010) is actor Derek Martin, who used to play Charlie Slater in Eastenders. Current members include: Bob Holness, Max Bygraves, Con and Dec Cluskey of The Bachelors, Bert Weedon, Engelbert Humperdinck, Lionel Blair, Tom O'Connor, Frank Bruno, Frank Carson, Barry Cryer, Don Smoothey, Paul Daniels, Billy Murray, Brian May, Nicholas Parsons, Roy Hudd, John Bardon, Joe Pasquale, Jimmy Perry, Richard Joy, Bill Pertwee and Rick Wakeman. Deceased members include Charlie Chaplin, Peter Lorre, Peter Sellers, Danny Kaye, Davy Kaye, Laurel and Hardy, Maurice Chevalier, Bob Hope, Will Hay, Frankie Vaughan, Tommy Cooper, Ted Ray, Les Dawson, George Martin, Sir John Mills, Sir Billy Butlin, David Nixon, Howard Keel, Sir Harry Secombe, Charlie Chester, Arthur Haynes, Derek Dene, Jimmy Wheeler and Sir Norman Wisdom. Members of the order wear a small gold badge shaped as a water rat on the left lapel of their jackets, and if one Water Rat meets another who is not wearing his badge he is fined with the money going to charity. Magician David Nixon wore his badge while appearing on television, explaining that as current King Rat he could be fined by any other member who saw him on screen without it. There are also a small number of Companion Rats; distinguished men from various fields of business and influence who are not performers but who have achieved recognition for their support and friendship of the Order. These include Bob Potter OBE, Rear Admiral Sir Donald Gosling, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH The Prince of Wales and HRH Prince Michael of Kent. Origin of the name In 1889, a small group of successful British music hall performers owned a trotting pony called The Magpie. Being a regular race winner, the pony's owners decided that they would use the profits to help performers who were less fortunate than themselves. Thus an organization was formed to collate their efforts, along with the dual purpose of acting as a social club for performers. One day, as Joe Elvin was driving the pony back to its stables in the pouring rain, a passing bus driver called out, "Wot yer got there, mate?" "Our trotting pony!" replied Joe. Observing the bedraggled, soaked condition of the pony, the driver shouted back, " Trotting pony? Looks more like a bleedin' water rat!" And thus the organization's name was coined, aligned with the fact that Rats spelled backwards is Star. With their benevolent aims in mind, it was also noted that a Water Rat is a type of vole, which is an anagram of "love", thus underlining the Order's agenda of Brotherly Love. (Motto: Philanthropy, conviviality and social intercourse.) [3] Members of the public can become a Friend of the Water Rats. The charity raises money by organising shows, lunches, dinners and other events. The objects of the charity are “... to assist members of the theatrical profession, or their dependents, who, due to illness or old age are in need.” When possible additional funds raised go to a diverse range of charities and good causes including hospitals, health charities and benevolent funds. The Water Rats originally held meetings in Sunbury on Thames in a public house now called 'The Magpie'. Their headquarters is now based at the Water Rats pub in Grays Inn Road in King's Cross, London. References ^ Elvin and the Grand Order of Water Rats ^ Leno and the Grand Order of Water Rats ^ List of members of the GOWR 4. The Laurel and Hardy Encyclopedia by Glen Mitchell (2008) (Reynolds & Hearn) ISBN 978-1-905287-71-0, (Page 124) External links Grand Order of Water Rats website Registered Charity No. 292201