“How cute is that?” “Aaawww, how sweet!” “Oh my god, will you look at that?!”
Young Liam Stephan, aged three and a very important fraction that makes him nearly four years old, is oblivious to the admiring comments he’s attracting from people passing by his front drive en route to the All England Club. Dressed in patriotic red, white and blue – with a club-colour purple jumper to hand – he’s far too busy lining up his glasses of homemade lemonade and manning his toy till to revel in the attention.
Instead, he’d like some business please. From behind the counter of his eye-catching stall – built last weekend by his father Keith to resemble a Wimbledon scoreboard – Liam is raising money for charity. Many shops and businesses in Wimbledon village and Southfields put out their own visual tributes to enter the spirit of the Championships, but rarely with such appealing pure enthusiasm as young Liam.
“It started because we wanted to teach him about charity and donating money – and counting!” says his mother Peggy, who hails from New York. “We let him choose his own charity and he picked St John’s Ambulance.”
The freshly squeezed lemonade is delicious and a bargain at 50p a glass (though Peggy’s shoulder might need some physio after a marathon citrus pressing session). Liam serves it with style complete with ice, a slice of lemon and a vintage striped straw. He is also offering chilled bottles of mineral water for £1, a blast of Bruce Springsteen from his ipod while the transaction takes place, and some knowledgeable tennis banter.
“He’s a big Andy Murray fan because he remembers last year. And Federer,” says Peggy.
“Roger OUT,” says Liam, bang on cue.
The plan is to stay open today and all next weekend – with some extra help. As the mock scoreboard reflects, Liam is not in this lemonade game alone. Younger brother Finn is also part of the operation. At just 18 months old, he takes quite a few nap breaks but ramps up the cuteness factor.