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News

British Firework Championships Report. Plymouth, Devon - August 13th and 14th

Natasha Webb

August 2002

Well, this years competition can best be described as disappointing; not with regards to the displays themselves, which sounded excellent, but due to Mother Nature's unwarranted interference in the weather. So may I start with an apology, on behalf of Nature herself, for giving me such an abysmal view of all the shows! This article is going to be more technical and less visual that usual because, as I didn't see much of the shows and didn't have any decent video footage to refresh my memory it is therefore being written using the information that the teams gave me on the day, and also the firing orders that the competitors so generously gave me.

A few facts and figures for those who are interested: estimated spectators 180,000-200,000 over both nights, who view from a distance of approximately a quarter of a mile (which is why I don't recommend using set pieces because they are too small to be effective); no plastic shells and no aquatics (probably due to the judges boat nearly getting hit by one last year!); judges - Ian Blackhouse, competition co-founder, and Councillor Vivien Pengally both from Plymouth City Council, Alan Qualtrough from the Plymouth Herald, John Lilley of BBC Radio Devon, Ron Rapley of Black Cat Fireworks Ltd and Bob Fox from TESA who was replacing Dan Baxter of FireOne Pyro Management Inc USA; in the event of a tie, Tom smith the competition adjudicator to provide the casting vote. Also Chris Pearce and Chris Hutchison were commentating for BBC Radio Devon from a unit underneath the lighthouse.

Now, much as I love this competition, I have to admit that it didn't appear to be as well organised as in previous years. No-one seemed very happy and there was a great deal of controversy over the weight limits, with numerous people making complaints about how other companies were blatantly flouting the rules. For example - it was rumoured that a vehicle arrived mid afternoon with additional live; vans were un-plated; mortar tubes were arriving pre-loaded with shells; and even that a document had been seen which proved one of the companies was almost a third over the weight limit. Now whether these rumours were based on fact or just jealousy is not for me to say, but one thing is for sure: if this is to remain a 'competition' then someone is going to have to pay better attention and have the guts to lay down the law. After all, a competition with no rules just becomes a farce and that would be a real shame for the industry and the viewing public alike. That's enough of my soapbox, lets get on with the fun stuff…..

I arrived on the Wharf at about 4pm on the Tuesday to find it shrouded in thick fog. Visibility was about 20ft but it was actually more comfortable to work in than the usual blistering sunshine. Luckily the fog lifted a couple of hours before the shows were due to start, but unluckily it didn't lift enough to make the conditions ideal, plus there was no wind so I knew that smoke was going to be a problem when the shows began.

Paul Franklyn, proprietor of Rocket Pyrotechnics was kind enough to stop working for a few minutes to talk to me. He said the 8 crew, including one female, had been on site since 6.15am; that they were using European material; mainly Panzera candles, plus a few from Kimbolton; shells by Igual, Soldi butterflies, serpents, German Zinc; 10 large cakes; 2x4ft wheels with 6 large fountains; Pyrovision mines; a noise sequence with candles, shells, screeches and whistles; a blue/gold/willow finale; a red/green opening sequence to try to compensate for it not being dark when they started firing; and that they'd hired a Pyrovision firing system especially for the event. Quote - 'We're going for quality rather than quantity'.

Rocket's firing order: 3x3" maroons/9x4" green shells, 9x4" red mines, 3x5" red shells/9x4" red shells, 9x4" green mines, 3x5" green shells/9x4" sliver shells, 9x4" silver flash mines, 3x5" silver shells 7 2x6" silver shells/5x30mm silver bombette, 5x45mm blue bombette, 3x3" blue and 2x3" silver peony shells, 3x3" blue and 2x3" dragon egg peony, 9x6 14mm red dragon, 3x3" dragon egg and 2x3" red peony shells, 3x3" red and 2x3" blue peony shells, 3x3" dragon egg and 2x3" red peony shells, 3x3" blue and 2x3" silver peony shells, 3x3" dragon egg and 2x3" red peony shells/4x5" red and blue bees alternating/ 1x6" timed maroon, cracker, maroon/3x4" hummer mines, 3x42 whistle mines, 3x4" serpent mines/6x60mm screecher 7 whistle candles, 3x3" screecher shells, 3x3" whistle shells, 3x3" green flash shells, 3x3" red shells, 2x3" screecher shells and 1x3" red flash, 2x3" whistle shells and 1x3" green flash, 2x3" screecher and 1x3" whistle, 2x3" whistle and 1x3" screecher/2x4" Vulcan noise shells repeated 4 times/ 8x30mm violet Panzera comet, 9x125mm purple to gold glitter and gold to purple diadem, 5x4" violet popping brocade, 2x6" and 1x8" Kamuro/6x3" gold to silver fountains, 2xgold to silver wheels, 9x30mm white flitter to violet bombette/2x4" polypop and 1x6" popping brocade repeated 3 times/1x150shot thunder rain, 8x4" green and white blinker shells/2x5 45mm red and green mini mines, 2x20 3" red and blue alternating shells, 8x4" red and blue butterflies, 6x5" red and blue octopus shells/1xassorted ring cake, 2xassorted ring cakes, 8x4" ring and 3x52 flat shells/3x4" and 1x5" Kamuro white twinkling, 3x5" and 1x6" shell of shells, 3x6" and 1x10" gold glitter crossette/3xwhite horse running, 16x3" silver serpent shells in pairs, 9x4" silver serpent shells/ 6x5" scrambling comets in pairs/3x6" silver crss-cross/1x6 30mm green magnesium candles, 12x4" silver palm and silver tail, 8x42 glitter palm and silver tail, 6x5" red and green palm shells, 15x1oz red rockets, 20x1oz silver rockets, 15x1oz red and 10x1oz silver rockets/2x8" triple colour change shells, 1x12" triple colour change shell/10x30mm glow-worm, 3x150shot crackling colpie, 15x45mm blue bombette, 75x3" blue and gold peony, 48x4" blue and gold shells, 10x5", 5x6", 2x8", 1x10" gold willow/3x3" maroons.

My opinion: There was no wind and the low level fog kept the smoke down, so a lot of the effects were lost. It had a big start, was a little slow in the middle, but had a great finale with really vivid blues.

Second to fire on day 1 was Highlight Pyrotechnics. Steve Illidge was to call the show, but I spoke to Kevin who told me: they'd arrived at 7.30am; 6 male, 1 female; using mainly Chinese material; candle and mine start; 12 cakes; and to look out for pretty stuff, 6 shot mines and ring shells with special bits such as crackling pistil rings. I was quite impressed because they'd almost finished setting up by 5pm with everything already foiled or wrapped in plastic. There were large tubes tied to the railings, 110mm silver fountains in buckets of sand and I was told that there were 22 racks/350 shells, including cylinder shell candles, to be fired in just 45 seconds in the finale. They were to use a firing system which was designed and made by one of their freelancers. Quote - 'We're doing the same as everyone else, just with a little extra!'

Highlight's firing order: 3x3" maroons/6x5" skydance 1/4x40mm red candles and 12x4" shells/4x40mm red candles and 5x5" shells/4x40mm red candles/4x40mm red candles, 3x62 shells and 3x6" gold mines/2xhappy star cakes/ 6x4" shells/4x40mm gold candles and 16x3" shells/4x40mm gold candles and 10x5" shells/4x40mm gold candles and 10x5" skydance 1and2/2x4" starmine 1/2x4" starmine 2/2x4" starmine 3/2x4" pink mines/2x4" starmine 1/2x4" red mines/2x4" green mines/2x4" blue mines/2x4" starmine 3/2x4" gold mines/6x4" starmine 2 and 4xskyblitz 3/16x3" shells and 4xskyblitz 1/willow cake and 4xskyblitz 1/12x4" shells and 4xskyblitz 1/6x25mm crackling candles and 2xtime rain cakes/6x25mm crackling candles and 16x3" shells/4x40mm gold candles, 4x6" shells and 4x4" green mines/4x40mm gold candles/4x40mm gold candles/1x50mm green candle and 1x4" mine/1x40mm silver candle and 1x4" mine/1x40mm red candle and 1x4" mine/1x40mm blue candle and 1x4" mine/1x40mm gold candle and 1x4" mine/1x50mm green candle and 1x4" mine/1x40mm silver candle and 1x4" mine/1x40mm red candle and 1x4" mine/1x40mm blue candle and 1x4" mine/1x40mm gold candle and 1x4" mine/10x5" shells and 2xdouble dragon cakes/4x40mm gold candles and 2xsuper super/4x40mm candles red and gold/16x3" 7 6x4" shells and 2xdevious cakes/3x6" green mines/6x25mm silver candles/6x25mm silver candles and 2xbeautiful night cakes/8x40mm silver candles and 12x4" shells, 5x5", 12x4", 5x5", 12x4" and 5x5", 6xskyburst, 6xskyburst and 8x3" and 2x6", 8x3", 8x3" and 2x6", 8x3", 12x4" and 2x6", 8x3" and 5x5", 12x4" and 2x6", 8x3" and 5x5", 12x4" and 2x6", 8x3" and 5x5", 12x4" and 2x6" and 2x8" and 2x10", 10x5" and 2x8" and 2x12", 2x6" and 2x8", 12x52 skydance 1 mines/3x3" maroons.

My opinion: It was a bit slow for my taste with a few too many lulls, but it picked up towards the end. The crackling gold palms were nice but the general quality of material could have been better. Unfortunately the show overran so I expect they lost points, which is a shame because the finale was very good.

Last to fire on the first day were Frontier Fireworks. Chris Veheyden took time out to tell me: the 7 crew including 3 females arrived on site at 7am but didn't start setting up until 7.45.; they were using over 650 shells, 9 different brands of high quality material; going for a symmetrical and artistic display; 2 fake finales; and to look out for the chaser sequence of mines/shells, the tutti frutti sequence of comets/ring candles and the Cherokee sunset sequence using bright orange Kimbolton material.

Unfortunately I didn't get Frontier's full firing order, but Chris did Email me the following details - 'Shells ranged from 2" to 12" they used a mixture of shells/mines/candles/cakes; brands included Pyrofantasia/Panzera/Yung Feng/Vulcan/Yosh/Soldi/An Ping/Sunny/Sunsong/Lidu/San Tai/ Yoshihede/Igual; emphasis on unusual patterns and bright colours including orange; effects ranged from spitting comets, chrysanthemum, Kamuro, brocade, peony, salutes, whistles, crackles, willows, palm trees, rings, tourbillions, comets, serpents, etc; thinks they were the only company not to use fish; special sequences such as silver strobe, unusual vivid turquoise shells, three tone whistles; they created special symmetrical patterns with single shot candles in the opening sequence; and the finale was a huge barrage of 4" to 12" brocade shells' - quote.

My opinion: This was the best show of the day. There were a few dark spots, but they didn't last long and it didn't spoil the overall effect of the show. The arching comets were really nice, but the fog dropped in the last few minutes of the show so you lost a lot of the finale.

On the Wednesday I attended 'The British Firework Industry Conference' in The Mountbatten Centre at the end of the wharf. The organisers had sensibly decided to run it in conjunction with the competition due to the high number of firework people who were in Plymouth to watch the shows. Also attending were representatives from Le Maitre, Kimbolton, Jubilee, Rocket, Supreme, Pyro1, Skyburst, G Force and The Firework Co. The conference ran from 11am until about 5.30pm which didn't leave me much time to interview the teams who were setting up for that evening's shows. The day had started cold, windy and threatening rain, but by lunchtime the sun was out, the wind had dropped a little and it was ideal rigging weather. Unfortunately the thin cloud layer and sea mist got worse as twilight approached.

First to fire on the second night were The World Famous. The 3 company directors are Mandy Dike, Greg Woods and Mike Roberts. It was from Mike that I obtained the following information: they had the most crew, this being 12, 4 of which were female and had arrived at 7.15am; the company has been going for 4 years and they usually do outdoor theatrical spectaculars with fireworks; using a mixture of materials but a fair bit of Spanish; approximately 1100 shells; metal A frame bracings; candles mounted on the wharf railings facing over the water in blue/purple; the start was described as a 'gold blip'; a multicoloured finale; and 4 giant 6meter diameter wheels mounted on 6meter poles, which of course I was dubious about, but because of their sheer size I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt.

The World Famous firing order: 3x3" titanium salutes/Gold Bouquet sequence - 4" Kamuru mine, 4" gold crackling strobe with tail, 5" gold strobe crackling flower, 8" midnight snow with red pistil/Waves - 14mm magnolia and violet, 25mm Lidu blue and purple comets, 30mm Pyrofantasia purple bombettes, 3" green mag and green mag tit serps mines, 3" green grasshopper and green chrys, 4" purple chrys and purple falling leaves/Chases - fan 4" mine green magnesium mine, 4" fan green palm with tail, 4" green chrys, fan 4" yellow mag mine, fan 4" gold palm with tail, 4" gold palm with tail, fan 4" green mag tit serps mine, 4" green ring, 4 fans 3 chases 4" yellow diamante mine, 5" gold palm with tail, 5" purple strobe mine, 5" San Tai gold to purple diadem, 6" purple scattering, 6" gold spider, 8" yellow dahlia, 8" purple chrys/Bangers - 6" Maltese timed mrn/cr/mrn, 14mm flashing thunder, 3" Ti salute, 3" red salute, 16mm Shang Hai whistle, 3" mines screecher/hummer/whistle/tit whistle/whistle/red mag tit whistle, 4" mines tit siren/ red mag tit sirens/whistlers/tit whistler, 6" silver comet to 1000s thunder mine, 6" sunny artillery titanium/Spinners - 6m big spinning wheels, 25mm 100s titan missiles cake, 1.5m small spinning wheels, 3" silver tourbillion mine, 4" mines tit serps/sparks serps/gold tourbillion, 3" and 4" silver spider/gold spider, 6" spiral ring silver/Lidu spiral/Fishy - 3" silver bees, 20mm flying fish cake, 4" blue bees, 6" silver fish/silver silk fish, 4" blue bees, 3" and 5" silver bees/Chriss Cross - 60mm Panzera red zig zag candles, 3" silver crackling ring, 45mm Lidu crackle comet and silver comet, 60mm red glitter s/s candle, 3" red mine, 4" mines red to spangle/red to white/red crossettes, 4" VLC red go-getters, 3" silver tiger tail/silver gold strobe, 4" blue ring, 5" red criss cross, 60mm silver s/s candle, 5" blue crossettes, 6" red criss cross, 8" blue to silver crossettes/red to silver crossettes/VLC red white blue criss cross/Finale - 3" green chrys/grasshopper green/blue chrys/blue and crack/purple peony/purple crack, 4" red chrys/orange peony, 6" red chrys/yellow peony/green peony/blue ring/purple chrys, 3" and 4" red chrys, 5" ruby red, 6" red chrys, 3" yellow chrys, 5" and 6" yellow peony, 3" 4" 5" 6" green chrys, 3" 4" 5" 6" blue chrys, 3" 4" VLC purple, 5" 6" purple chrys, 8" purple, 3" blue and crack/blue and white/brocade/glittering silver to red/glittering silver to purple/green chrys/purple to crack/red gam to blue/red crack flowers/red chrys/red white blue chrys/yellow chrys, 4" brocade/sapphire blue/blue white/gold crossettes/gold crack strobe/green chrys/green peony palm core/red peony crossette core/purple peony crossette core/red peony blue ring/red white blue chrys, 5" blue white chrys/blue to crack/blue crossette/green grass/silver ring blue pistil/ruby red/purple chrys/gold strobe crackling flower/sunny 2-colour, 6" blue yellow/multi chrys/yellow peony palm core/green peony/blue chrys/purple chrys/red chrys, 8" red white blue chrys/glitter chrys to yellow/brocade shell of shells/oriental dragon/midnight snow with red pistil, 10" 4 colour change chrys, 12" brocade/3x3" Ti salute.

My opinion: Couldn't see much because the smoke was so dense. The crossing mines were good but the tempo was lost during the wheels (which presumably all turned). The size of them would have worked but we couldn't see them, they went on for too long and made the smoke problem 10 times worse, There were too many gaps but the noise sequence in the middle (reminiscent of the Blitz) was great because it was audible rather than visual.

Shellscape Pyrotechnics, the reigning champions, came next. Steve and Ray told me the following: 9 crew, 1 female; on site since 6am; everything was angled at 20'; new and improved effects; mine run longer and faster than last year across the 35meter frontage; around 870 shells including 8x12" and more 2" and cakes than last year; all material imported by themselves; fans of 3", 4" and 8" shells; and basically it was a scaled down version of the show they'd done at San Sebastian, but with a bigger finale of purple and gold with tails. It looked like they had an enormous amount of kit and material, but that may be in part due to the fact that they'd arrived in a huge articulated lorry, because they'd literally just got back from Spain.

Shellscape firing order: 3x3" Ti salute/2x50s crackling chrys fans, 10x4" red crackling + 10x4" blue crackling, 2x6" thousand blue chrys + 1x6" thousand red chrys/10x30mm gold crackling + 5x50mm gold coconut candles, 20x3" gold crackling + 10x4" gold crossette + 5x5" gold surf/1x49s white strobe cake, 20x3" silver crackling ring + 10x4" red crackling flower + 5x5" red bees + 5x5" silver bees/18xdefender red and gold + 9xdefender silver and blue, 80x2" red and gold + 40x2" blue and silver, 16x4" gold wave to red + 8x4" blue peony with silver tails/2x49s gold strobe cakes, 40x3" silver chrys + 20x4" gold crackling strobe, 5x5" gold strobe tier flower, 5x6" silver strobe/15xred tiger tail, 15xblue tiger tail, 20xgold tiger tail, 29xsilver tiger tail, 10xsilver discharge tails, 5x5" silver bees + 3x6" silver strobe willow/2x49s blue spider cakes + 20x3" blue rings + 10x4" silver strobe + 3x6" blue crossette, 20x3" silver rings + 10x4" blue peony + 3x6" white strobe/20x30mm red and crackle + 8x50mm silver to red coconut mine candles, 40x3" + 20x4" red palm tree, 6x5" red palm crossette + 2x8" red to silver crossette/2x90s brocade wave tail cakes, 10x3" green chrys + 10x3" purple flower, 20x4" gold wave to green to purple, 3x6" green crossette + 3x6" purple scatter/2x100s poisonous spider cakes, 20x4" silver spider with strobe pistils, 5x5" glitter coconut + 3x8" 4 colour change chrys/10x45mm espiga dorada candles + 8x60mm gold and blue discharge mines, 12x45mm gold rain candles, 32x3" blue willow + 16x4" gold willow, 8x5" gold willow + 4x6" gold willow, 3x8" gold strobe/2x100s pink and blue flower cakes, 20x3" purple rings + 20x3" blue rings, 20x4" blue rings + 20x4" purple rings, 10x5" purple crackling flowers + 10x5" blue crackling, 5x6" purple scatter + 5x6" blue crossette/5x45mm white flitter blue crossette candles, 25x4" glitter coconut, 25x5" silver ring with blue core, 2x12" silver fish with blue flowers/40x4" whistle to salute mines/Finale - 40x4" gold spider + 15x5" gold spider, 10x5" gold fish + 3x8" spider, 4x12" brocade + 2x12" thousand purple chrys/3x3" Ti salute maroons.

My opinion: The best show so far, maybe due to the fact that I saw more of it than I had of previous shows. The smoke was high enough for us to see the candles, mines and small calibre shells, but the gold finale was lost entirely, as were all the large shells. The chaser sequence worked well and the tempo was good.

Euphoria Pyrotechnics fired last. I spoke to Steve Hawkins, the owner of the company. He told me: the company was formed in 2001 and that they currently only had 8 workers on their books; the 7 crew members (no female) had arrived on site at 7am; mainly using shells (800+) with a few candles and a couple of big cakes; all new tubes in metal racks; 72x2", 330x3", 200x4", 11x5", 60x6", 40ish 8", 10x10", 2x12" and no rockets.

Euphoria firing order: 3x3" maroons/2x5" crossette comet shells/3x3" gerbes on 3m stands/4x3" gerbes on 7m stands/2x5" blinker shells/2x5" silver brocade crown/2x5" sunflower yellow with green pistil/2x6" Vulcan Rose: electric white ring with red pistil/8" brocade/ fanned 9x4" sun blue and 12x4" sun white with red pistil/fanned 10x3" red to blue, 10x3" green to crackling, 10x3" silver to blue/fanned 5x30mm single shot green bombette candles repeated in titanium then green again/1x82 Igual white flitter/60x3" shells-15 each of blue, gold, dragon egg, red with green pistil plus 32x4"-8 each of time rain, white with red pistil, green willow, red with blue pistil/fanned 72x2" assorted shells/2x5" red/2x5" white/2x5" blue/2x6" electric white with red pistil/2x6" Vulcan brocade/2x6" blue with silver pistil/3x5"/3x5" sunflower yellow with green pistil/3x5" gold crackling crossette/20x3" assorted/1x8" Igual/6x45mm Panzera comet candles/3x5" mines twice/3x52 zinc blinker shells/2x30mm ss comet candles, 2x3" shells, 2x3" mines, 2x5" glittering silver to red shells, 2x45mm ss comet candles, repeated using 2x5" crossette then blinker then crossette shells again/60x3" assorted/1x8" Igual blue/6x4" white with red pistil, 8x4" green with red pistil/2x19s ballet cakes/2x19s tadpole/2x19s colourful crossette/1x8" Vulcan brocade/2x19s thunder rain/2x6" silver coconut with blue pistil/3x5" mines/fanned 3x3" silver mines and 3x4" purple shells/3x3" green mines and 3x4" timed rain shells/3x5" mines and 3x5" zinc blinker shells/24x5" crackling crossette and 6x5" sunflower yellow to green/28x4" green willow shells/fanned 10x45mm single shot comet candles, repeated as crossing fan/20x3" dragon egg/16x4" white with red pistil and 5x4" red with blue pistil/14x4" blue/15x5" brocade crown/60x3" assorted/32x4" 2 each of Soldi green, white, blue, red, yellow, gold, yellow with blue pistil, white with blue pistil, variegated, dragon eggs, blue to white, red to blue to palm, blue, green with red pistil, glitter, purple with green pistil/2x5" silver and 1x5" red/2x5" red and 1x5" silver/2x6" electric white with red pistil/1x6" electric white and 2x6" brocade/3x6" blue with yellow pistil/2x8" blue/2x8" red/2x8" silver/80x3" assorted and 2x150s happy star/20x3" assorted/1x10" Kamuro/3x5"fanned 3x5"/3x5" zinc blinker/12x6" 4 each of silver, blue, green/42x4" assorted/1x8" silver and 2x8" red/18x5" assorted/12x6" 4 each of brocade, blue, silver coconut with blue pistil/3x8" premium brocade/3x8" silver Kamuro/3x8" brocade/3x8" blue with silver pistil/1x10" white to silver and 6x5" mines/1x10" Igual gold willow/2x8" silver and 2x10" blue/1x12" brocade and 2x8" silver Kamuro/2x8" blue, 2x10" Kamuro and 1x12" brocade /3x3" maroons.

My opinion: They used some great shells and the crowd around us said this was the best overall. They lost momentum at one point but the final gold shell was gorgeous and looked a hell of a lot bigger than a 12". They definitely had the ooh factor but by the end it was like multi coloured cloud to cloud lightning, or as Richard put it: 'they lit up the sky like a nuclear test, lighting up heavy cloud'.

The smoke and debris were blowing straight towards where Richard and I were filming so the view was atrocious, but the smell was amazing (something that only a true pyrotechnophile can appreciate) so at least I was semi-happy, but according to reports from people we met in the pub afterwards, we got our viewing stations round the wrong way. Where we were on the first night would have been ideal on the second and vice versa. Typical.

Consensus was that the results would be: Euphoria 1st, Shellscape 2nd and Frontier 3rd, but yet again we were wrong as the actual results turned out to be Shellscape, Frontier, World Famous, which is the first time that the returning champion has ever won for a second year.

Now I know that there were a lot of disgruntled people during and after the competition this year and I know of one company in particular that was so disheartened that they will not be competing in the future. I just hope that others won't be put off too. I recently received an invitation from TESA asking if 'my company' wanted to apply for consideration for this year's event, but as I am only a freelancer I decided I wasn't exactly suitable. Enclosed with the invitation were the 'competition rules and guidance notes', which made for very informative reading. Most of you will be extremely pleased to know that the rules have been tightened considerably. The limit is 350g net explosive mass; verification of materials will take place on site prior to set-up; no additional material will be allowed onto the site unless verified and there will also be random spot checks during the day by the adjudicator and at least one judge to make sure the rules are being adhered to. An extra 3 points will be awarded to those who comply with the rules and stick to their pre submitted firing order. The judges will be a selection of pyro specialists, event organisers and local Plymouth celebrities. 'No commercial firework companies will be involved in the judging' - quote. Hopefully this will make the whole experience much less fraught and stressful in future.

I applaud anyone who enters this competition, because it's a tough one to win and may I be presumptuous enough as to offer a few words of advice to anyone who is considering entering in the future: If you go, then go to win, but also go with your eyes wide open and don't risk bankruptcy in the process; don't overstretch yourselves and remember to take into account all the additional costs. You are given £5,800 for pyro and just £200 for accommodation. On top of that there are the travel expenses, food and wages, all of which come out of your own pocket. Then there's the issue of set pieces… please don't use them because they just don't work on this site and they create so much smoke that you risk ruining a great deal more of your show by hiding it; and above all, remember to enjoy it. After all, what other industry is there where you can give so much pleasure to hundreds of thousands of people in just 10 minutes!

See you there on 12 /13 August this year.

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