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British charitable organisation

The Water Rats were founded in 1889 by a group of Music Hall artists, who owned a trotting pony called 'Magpie', the winner of many races in London. They used the winnings to help other performers who were in dire straits, and to fund soup kitchens in London's East End.

The name came from a bus driver who passed comment during a downpour - "Trotting pony? It looks more like a drowned rat!" The group thought it appropriate, and became the 'Friends of the Water Rats'.

Over the years, they have grown to become an exclusive (and men-only) club, and it is considered a great honour to be invited to join. Membership is small - never more than 200 at any one time. Members are drawn from the entertainment industry worldwide, including Bert Weedon, Paul Daniels, Danny La Rue, Jon Pertwee and Roy Hudd. Honorary 'Companion Rats' currently include Prince Philip and the Prince of Wales.

The finest acolade is to be elected King Rat, who presides over the work of the Order, but everyone, no matter what their status, wears their gold Water Rat badge with pride.

Finally, worthy of note is that in common with some of the best British organisations, they meet in a pub; the Water Rats pub in London. What do you know, they're just like the London Booze Monkeys.

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