Intrepid adventurer Mark Hannaford was in the Eastern Himalayas when he found himself in desperate need of a tuxedo.
Mark, from Devon, is the founder of World Extreme Medicine which is a global leader in medical training for people working in remote and hostile areas of the planet.
He was nearing the end of a one month expedition to Bhutan when he received an invitation to a very special event to celebrate Trafalgar Day – aboard the QE2 in Dubai.
Finding himself ill-equipped, Mark put out a call on social media to ask friends if they could recommend somewhere in Bangkok where he could get a made-to-measure tuxedo at short notice.
The clock was ticking as he only had a three-day stopover before his onward travel to Dubai.
‘I knew I needed a bespoke tuxedo, I’m tall and broad and didn’t think there’d be anything off the peg in Thailand that would fit me,’ explains Mark.
He was inundated with suggestions from well-travelled friends including several residents of the city.
‘I went through the list and looked for a tailor with a website where I could book my appointment before I arrived in Bangkok – speed being of the essence. Father and son tailors Jesse and Vincent Rajawongse on Sukhumvit Road fitted the bill perfectly.’
‘When I got to the shop there were signed photos and letters of thanks from previous customers including President Obama and Senator John Kerry, astronauts and sports’ personalities.’
Speed being of the essence
‘The Rajawongses have also made suits for plenty of members of the world’s top security services. I knew I was in safe hands.’
The tuxedo took just 48 hours to make, and, in the meantime, Mark visited Liu’s Bootery where he was measured for a pair of handmade shoes.
‘I didn’t have time to try the shoes before the event, in fact, my partner Nikki McLeary collected them for me. I didn’t put them on until just before we left for the QE2 – and they fitted like a glove. Not a blister in sight.’
Nikki was somewhat better prepared having packed a couple of evening dresses and a pair of heels in readiness for potential social events.
The couple strutted their stuff aboard the QE2 and looked very much at home amongst the other guests, despite having only returned from their expedition to the remotest parts of Bhutan a few days before.
Mark says the whole whirlwind experience was quite amazing. ‘I left Bangkok, got on a plane and arrived in Dubai looking like James Bond!’
Mark and the team at World Extreme Medicine are no strangers to the world of tuxedos, spies and adventures, having provided medical support on location for film franchises, including Mission Impossible, Jack Ryan and Transformers.
Photograph: Mark Hannaford and Nikki McLeary on the QE2. Photograph provided by Mark Hannaford.