April 2017~ FCD Out of the Ashes 2.0

I honestly don’t know where to begin!

Video courtesy of Mr Vestek

Once again I was part of the team behind the organisation and running of the event. As one of the management team, my role was to be responsible for the dealers, talks and main rooms alongside one other manager (Fudge). I arrived at the venue at around 1pm on Friday and made my way to the venue (The International Centre, Telford) to help with setup. The bulk of the work was being done by TIC staff so it was down to us to set up our own areas. The dealers were in setting up their tables. The chairs and sound system were all set up in the talk area. This just left the main event room. The guest tables were ready thanks to Karen, the charity tables were almost ready which meant it just left the props and the Carrie Fisher memorial to do.

Kevin Chapman arrived with his Tardis and TOS Captain Kirk chair and began setting them up with the help from our guys. Phil Cocking was setting up his Battlestar Galactica rag-tag, fugitive fleet whilst Steven Cockings (no relation I think!) was setting up his Stargate props display. Our Cylon Raider was already in place so all we needed were the two TV police cars courtesy of Stephen and Mark. They would arrive just before the opening ceremony at around 6pm.

Adam had finished setting up the photo area upstairs, the Blue room (staff chill out area) and the Green room for the guests was also finished. Alison and her team were busy organising reception. I began work on putting together the Carrie Fisher memorial. Adam came to help and we got it finished at around 4.45pm.

We then headed back to our hotel to freshen up before the evening’s events.

The team made their way back to TIC ready for the opening ceremony. At about 7.30pm we began letting people in to collect their passes and take their seats. The ceremony began shortly after 8pm with our host, Neil leading the way. Our guests for the weekend were John Carrigan (Star Trek), Aron Eisenberg and JG Hertzler (Star Trek: Deep Space 9), Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager), Rainbow Sun Francks (Stargate: Atlantis), David Blue (Stargate Universe), Claudia Christian and Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5). Once the welcoming speeches were out of the way we all moved upstairs for the buffet, followed by the group guest photoshoots. The first day came to an end at around 11.30pm. Luckily, The Holiday Inn was only a two-minute walk away.

The next day began bright and early. After a good breakfast I arrived at the TIC at 8.15am. We made sure that everything was ready and, after a short team briefing by Wil, we opened the doors!

Over the course of the day we had guest talks (both single and groups), a quiz (I won!!), autograph signings and photo shoots with the guests plus a dealers room and variety of props to look at and play with. In the afternoon, Claudia held an auction with all the proceeds going to The C3 Foundation.

Doors closed at 6pm and after making sure that everything was ready for the next day we went back to our hotel to get ready for the evening.

Saturday night was party night and the theme was Icons! There were so many people who were dressed up as iconic characters, but I was too knackered and wanted to wear my Princess Leia shirt as a way of honouring Carrie Fisher. John Carrigan gave a short talk about mental health and then the party got going. It ended about 1am but I gave up at about 11.30pm. I wanted to be as fresh as possible for the next day.

Sunday was pretty much a repeat of Saturday although the talks were a bit different. Sundays are always quieter at cons but it was still nice and chilled. We had a charity auction at 4pm to raise money for our charities (MIND, Macmillan, Help for Heroes) but I left to go and begin breaking down the main room.

Once everything was done the event closed. There was only one final thing to do: The crew after party. Luckily this took place at our hotel so there wasn’t far to go. The team, guests and attendees with Phoenix Plus or Jeff passes were also there. Wil and David gave a ‘short’ (50 minutes!!) speech and then things got going. I spent some time chatting with Aron and his girlfriend Malissa, plus Bruce’s wife Verena who was lovely.

All in all it was an absolutely awesome weekend. The team worked their butt’s off and the guests were amazing. The attendees were equally as awesome and friendly with a great amount and variety of costumes on display. Our aim is to bring back the family-friendly cons of the past where you could chill out and relax with the guests and I think we can safely say we managed that!

I really hope Wil and David do another event in 2019 and hopefully I’m still a part of the team!

April 2016~ FCD ‘Out of the Ashes’

I honestly do not know where to begin. This has to be the best event I have been to in years!

FCD 2015 was a great event. I volunteered at the event and was asked by Wil and David to join the main FCD team shortly afterwards. Many months were spent in planning and preparation. At one point we did not think we would have an event to put on due to some complex issues but after changing the venue and making it a one day event, we were ready.

The team members arrived on the Friday afternoon. After unpacking we began setting up. I began by helping to construct the Klingon bridge but then went into the main event room to assist with the setup there. Once setup was complete, we had a team briefing and then chilled out for a while.

Later that evening we had a team meal along with our guests and media partners. Then I decided to hit the sack so that I was ready for the next day.

I woke up early and went to the event rooms. We had a very quick meeting and once breakfast was over we got ready for opening. We honestly had no idea about how many people would turn up after all the trouble the event had encountered. We had enough chairs for 100 people to sit and watch the various talks etc. It was nowhere near enough…..

The doors opened. Shortly before the opening ceremony it became clear we needed more chairs so some of the team set about quickly putting more out, but still people kept coming. 483 in the end…….way more than expected.

The opening ceremony took place with Wil and David introducing the guests (Claudia Christian of Babylon 5, JG Hertzler, Aron Eisenberg and John Carrigan all from various incarnations of Star Trek) and so began the day.

What followed was a series of hilarious talks by the guests, a charity auction that raised lots of money for charities and a surprise marriage proposal by team member Simon to his partner Sheridan who was also a team member. JG Hertzler helped Simon with the deed by setting up an elaborate ruse and asking Sheridan for her help. It was awesome to watch and congrats to both!

Whilst the various talks were going on there was also the chance to have a professional photo taken with the guests as well as wander around the various dealer stalls.

The main event ended at 5pm and we had to quickly clear the room ready for the evening. It was to be a meal followed by a disco with karaoke. The theme was Spy vs Spy. There were many fine costumes on display and a great time was had by everyone. The party continued into the small hours……

Sunday was spent having a quick, final tidy up before chilling out and saying goodbye to old friends and new.

Overall, the whole weekend was a blast! It was like being at one massive family party! The energy in the main room was amazing and the constant smiles on everyone’s faces said a lot. It was knackering but absolutely worth it!

Roll on 2017 and well done to all involved but especially to Wil and David, and a HUGE thank you to all the FCD team members that made me feel so welcome!

April 2015- First Contact Day

This was my first event of the year and all I can say is WOW!

It was also my first time in a long while that I had volunteered to help out at a con. The last time I did so was back in the 90s at the Rising Star events.

The weekend began with a meetup at our hotel bar. It started early, around 2pm and went on until midnight. We chatted about geeky stuff, drank lots and played Cards Against Humanity. I left about 11.30pm as I had to be at the venue for 9.15am.

I woke early, got ready and set off, arriving at the National Space Centre on time. I met up with the crew members and other volunteers and we had a briefing from the Chief Steward, Tim. Then the doors opened and we took up our positions. Mine was to help control queues at the front and direct people to the correct place.

I stayed doing this for a fair part of the day but also managed to take part in other events such as talks by the celebrity guests, photo shoots etc as well as visiting the dealers room and other exhibits, including an awesome display of ships from the original Battlestar Galactica and larger props such as Captain’s chairs from Star Trek and a First Doctor’s Tardis console.

The Red Shirt challenge (Most number of people in one room dressed as a Star Trek red-shirt) took place on the Saturday afternoon.

As I no longer have a shirt that fits, I was asked by Wil to be an official adjudicator and help with the count. This year was 107, an increase of 50 from last year. All documentation will be sent to Guinness for approval.

The celebrity guests for the weekend were Garrett Wang (of Star Trek Voyager), Claudia Christian (Babylon 5), James Swallow and Una McCormack (authors of a variety of sci-fi books), Alan Flyng (Imperial Officer in Star Wars VI) and via Skype, Larry Nemecek (Trek Guru). Claudia arrived late due to ill health. She managed to stay for a couple of hours but then left. Luckily I got her autograph before she left. Hopefully she will return again soon.

That evening we had the Gold Pass meal and disco which was good fun. Garrett was a real party animal and we had a nice group photo with him. The music was great and there were a lot of con dances going on. I finally left around 11.30pm.

Day 2 was similar to the first day. I scaled back my duties a bit as I wanted to see what I had missed the previous day. Sunday also was not as busy with just over 300 people in attendance as opposed to over 600 on the first day so I’m sure my presence was not missed! The highlight of the day was watching Garrett Wang do his talk. The man is hilarious and does great impressions of various Trek alumni.

There were quite a few members of our Facebook group, The USS Riker’s Beard at the event. We arranged to have a group photo at the original series Captain’s chair. Luckily, we managed to recruit Garrett as our 3rd honorary member (Vaughan Armstrong and Larry Nemecek being the first two) and he joined our group photo and got to sit in the chair.

The weekend ended with the charity auction, farewell speeches and a promise of things being bigger and better next year. We all then departed back to the hotel bar and drank the JD dry!

It was an awesome weekend thanks to David, Wil and the crew and I hope to be asked to help out again next year!

July 2009~ LFCC ’09

Showmasters events just get better every time!

LFCC ’09 was to be an amazing event. I had a long list of people to meet so I decided to get a gold pass. It would also be the first event for my new nephew who was only 2 months old, but he had his big sister (now a con veteran having been to 3 or 4) to look after him!

The big draws this year (for me) were Tom Baker (Doctor Who), Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap/Enterprise) Keeley Hawes (Spooks), Michael Ironside (V), Michael Shanks (SG-1), Jewel Staite (Firefly), Frazer Hines (Doctor Who), Dominic Keating (Enterprise) and Paul McGann (Doctor Who).

Showmasters also arranged for a great exhibition of Doctor Who props which my brother and niece found interesting!

June 2009~ Collectormania 15

One of the best CMs for a long time.

There were many great guests to choose from, but financially I could not meet all the ones I would like to so I had to choose carefully….

First came Avery Brooks, from Star Trek:DS9. Such a lovely dude even though he seemed a bit spaced out. Nathan Fillion from Firefly, another fan favourite. Ben Browder and Tony Amendola, both from Stargate…all lovely people!

There was one man I HAD to meet. A big favourite of mine from the original Star Trek. The one and only Leonard Nimoy! He was an absolute honour to meet and would not be rushed. Would love to meet him again…

July 2008~ LFCC ’08

The year of chaos!

Patrick Stewart of Star Trek: TNG fame was scheduled last minute to put in a short appearance.

Could I get near him? Hell no. Every Trekkie in the UK was there it seemed!! I would get my chance a few years later.

Instead, I met Peter Davison, the 5th Doctor, his daughter, Georgia Moffett, David Warner (from one of my all-time favourite films) who appeared in The Omen and various Star Trek roles, Sylvester McCoy, also from Doctor Who, Claudia Black from Stargate SG-1 and director John Landis.

I met John wandering around looking at vendors and had a quick chat. Told him that he scared the crap outta me as a kid as I had snuck a look at my dad’s copy of ‘An American Werewolf in London’. He thought it was hilarious. Still can’t watch it to this day.

It was also the first year we took my niece Jessica and she seemed to love it. She was also totally unfazed by the plethora of aliens, monsters and other creatures that were present.

May 2008~ Collectormania 13

It  was around now that Collectormania started to outgrow the shopping centre.

There were at least 48 guests this year! A fair few were regulars and fan favourites from Star Wars, Red Dwarf etc. The cast of Torchwood played a big part too.

There was no real main draw for me this time.

 

I met Tawny Cypress from Heroes , Connor Trineer from Enterprise, Bruce Boxleitner from Babylon 5.

 

The funniest moment was meeting Natalia Tena who played Tonks in the Harry Potter films. In her words she had “been out on a bender” the previous night and had a mad hangover. She was fun though and a pleasure to meet.