April 2018~ Out Of The Ashes Reunion

Since the Out of the Ashes Con in April 2017 ended, many attendees wanted to meet up again and have fun. Some of the attendees got together along with a couple of the FCD crew to organise a reunion event in April 2018. It was to be a one-day event with a buffet and party in the evening.

OOTA020

Friday April 6th came and the attendees began descending on The Telford-Ironbridge Holiday Inn. After a not-so-enjoyable visit to a local restaurant, the fun began quite quickly and carried on at the hotel bar into the wee small hours of Saturday morning.

OOTA022

Other folks began arriving on Saturday morning and registered for the event, which began at 12pm with a variety of board games. The crew of the USS Iceni were running a raffle and at 2pm the event would be officially opened.

OOTA017

I had been asked a few months ago to come up with some kind of quiz along with my FCD sidekick (or am I the sidekick) Neil Green. It was to start out as a team event with The Tribblemakers taking on Team DISCO.

All rounds had some kind of geeky link but were based on a classic gameshow from the 70s onwards. Examples included ‘Play Your Cardassians Right,’ ‘The Next Generation Game’ and ‘Odo’s Weakest Link’. After the first four rounds, one team was eliminated and the remaining team had to compete against each other with one person leaving at the end of each round.

OOTA048

One round involved the final three contestants having to sculpt a model of Odo from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine out of modelling clay. Our surprise guest, Rainbow Sun-Francks from Stargate Atlantis, hilariously judged this particular round.

OOTA047

At the very end, the one remaining contestant took part in ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Geek Edition. Our Grand Champion was Mark Cottam.

OOTA023

Everyone left to go and get ready for our Mask Party and buffet. I’m not a fan of masks but found one I was happy with- Captain Chaos from Cannonball Run.

OOTA002

People began arriving in a variety of outfits, including Holly, one of the organisers who came as an Andorian from Star Trek. After a few opening remarks and a guest announcement for the upcoming FCD Stargate con, Cal Mah, the party began.

OOTA018OOTA033OOTA007

Many people headed home the next day but a few of us hung around to chill out before heading home on the Monday.

OOTA013

I really hope it becomes an annual event as its good to catch up with good friends and family and do it away from a full blown con.

blur

A huge thanks to the organisers! A job well done!

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!

November 2016~ FCD Out Of The Ashes 1.5

After the success of 1.0, fans asked for an event nearer to Christmas. It didn’t have to have guests, it was just a way of getting everyone together for a party. It also happens that David, one of the bosses at FCD would be celebrating a big birthday around the same time so it was decided to combine the two and so Out Of The Ashes 1.5 The Monster’s Ball was born!

Two guests were invited. John Carrigan who had appeared at 1.0 and Rainbow Sun Francks from Stargate Atlantis. Both guests were amazing and took part in every aspect of the event, from the Friday night’s games, bingo and quizzes through to talks during the Saturday event and then finishing up by joining in the festivities of the Saturday party.

The Saturday event took place in The Langton Suite of The Hilton Leicester. The were a number of dealers stall and about 60ish people in attendance and Steven Cockings from Trekyards was also there with an amazing collection of screen used Stargate props. The were a number of talks by various people, including John and Rainbow. The event ended at around 4.30pm.

The theme for the Saturday party was Monsters (as Halloween had just past). There were around 70 people at the party and great fun was had by all. David and Wil did a live stream from the event announcing the guest lineup for 2.0 in March next year with more guests yet to be announced!

15078899_10210201048957647_3776898281345385999_n

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!

April 2014~ First Contact Day

It was off to Leicester to celebrate 49 years until Earth makes First Contact with Vulcan (as seen in Star Trek: First Contact, Zefram Cochrane makes first contact in Bozeman, Montana, with the crew of Vulcan survey ship T’Plana Hath.)

It was an event run by the fine people of the USS Equulus. It was aimed at fan clubs and other groups. I also managed to catch up with my old friend, David Limburg, who I have known since the late 80s.

We spent time in the main hall, interacting with other groups and looking at dealers.

A discount for entry into the National Space Centre was available and we took full advantage of it.

In the afternoon we set the Guinness World Record for the most “Red Shirts” in one place.

After that it was back to hotels for drinks and merriment!