We came, we sawed, we were conquered.

I think the above best sums up our St. Georges Reloaded 2006 competition. Starting at the beginning: The team started off as Pyrotechnictigger (Ian) and his wife Helen plus myself for the planning stages then joined by lighting technician Mike and firers Karl and Tommy. Stage hands included Andrew and Mickael. Scenery was painted by Jenna and Hanna. Make up was by Norma Stits.

OK so this sounds like a bit of a mammoth production and that was exactly our theme, I'd got a text from Tigger at some daft time in the morning when he was plastered on holiday in the US saying he'd always wanted to fire a display over the top of a castle.

First planning meeting saw four hours of, ahem, lively discussion. Tigs: "We should be able to build a castle up to about 40 foot high". Rick: " 'k off". Mrs Tigs: "Listen to Rick, he's sensible". Four hours later, compromise reached... 32 foot high Castle Tigger to be built.

Second planning meeting - music. Tigs: "I want to use music from Disney films". Rick: " 'k off". Mrs Tigs: "Listen to Rick he's sensible". Four hours later, compromise reached... Disney music is being used, tracks selected and roughly edited but under no circumstances are we using the gay music from Little Mermaid, no way, absolutely not, its not happening, don't even think about it...

...Music later submitted to Mike40 contains a 30 second section of gay music from Little Mermaid!

Planning on the pyro to be used was pretty standard, what fits the timing/desired effect/budget. Pyro list submitted. The idea being to create a criss-cross wall of comets rising from behind the castle to open the display with the castle lit in white light. Finale to be preceded by a three second silence and total darkness, lighting changes to red and then the heavy stuff kicks in (see the film Bootcamp Tigger - for when Tigger screams for silence).

Final planning meeting held, Tigger has all the timber lined up, cladding for the front of the castle comprises of 8' x 6' panels scrounged off Tommy who for some reason uses them at work.

From left to right: Karl, Michael, Tigger, Rick and Tommy.

And the finale plan is unveiled: Two Quantum Leaps set at a 90 degree angle to each other are mounted on a 40 foot long arm which has a pivot at one end. One firer is to light the Quantums, the other firers then push the arm up (think like a Roman siege catapult but with less force!) so that the Quantums appear at the top of the Castle and fire from there. Four hours of lively discussion, length of arm cut to 32 foot and a turret added to it. Tigger brought the team together the day before to lay out the timber, add some paint markings and generally change the firing order.

Day of the comp. Team Bouncing Bangers are on site early, 7am-ish, and start to dig, saw, screw, paint, swear. Anyone noticed we haven't got near the firing site yet? Holes are dug to plant the uprights in and cemented in place using ready mixed postcrete.

Above: Probably the most important post in the whole field!

Construction begins on the second tier of the Castle. Tigger announces he has enough wood for a third tier, what a chuffing surprise. Team discussion held, children present, language kept clean (just). Stu wanders past, pisses himself laughing at the discussion taking place and offers to help lifting the third tier. Compromise reached: Two turrets added to the Castle but definitely only two tiers high plus the turrets.

The second tier is ready to be lifted on to the ground floor structure, the wind starts to blow a touch, Stu duly comes to help and the building crew begin the lift. The structure cracks and is lowered to the ground for remedial repairs.

Any sign of pyro being put out yet? Second tier gets lifted into place, the turrets are on, the Castle has been painted, the pigs are lined up and ready to fly. Time to test the arm with the Quantum Leaps on it.

Bugger me it worked! Takes 2-3 seconds for the crew to get it into place, we rehearse, we rehearse, we rehearse, Goddamn it's perfect. No problems, it doesn't wobble, it doesn't crack. Tigger is hailed a genius. But the pro teams are behind us and they aren't impressed. They raise a safety concern that if the arm breaks or one of the Quantums become unsecure then it could pose a hazard. Safety inspection by Meggsy and Stu to see it in action. The crew move the arm up into position and it makes a cracking noise - safety comes first and the idea is pulled.

We've now been on site for 12 hours, hands and feet are blistered, we're tired and we haven't stopped to eat at which point our competition winning idea gets pulled. The Quantum Leaps are set up 6 foot high in front of the Castle. We're all disappointed but there is no argument and no debate over the subject, it was one of those things.

Pyro gets staked out about 7pm and we run through the display/lighting changes finally getting something to eat. At this point we have to thank the WAGs that had accompanied us. Best scene of the day was when Tigger handed a jigsaw and a piece of hardboard to a XXXX year old girl and said "Just cut us some flags out of this and paint them please". Her mum nearly screamed as the girl started to use the jigsaw, wimp!

Firing time approaches, usual nerves start to show, Helen conducts a radio test and we take up our positions.

The music to pyro goes. Gay bit from Little Mermaid set to two Orgasmatrons works perfectly (Tigger hailed as a genius). Single Surewin rocket set at about 45 degrees is to run across the sky to the line "When you wish upon a star" - timing is close enough, rocket explodes in the field behind us as planned and the crowd think we got it wrong - (note to self, don't try and be too arty farty next year).

We wanted/planned a three second silence before the finale when we cut the lights, had no pyro in the sky and the music changed to the dramatic Notredame piece. Bugger, Autumn Leaves was still running, where's the willow finale to that piece? Men Shun had changed the design and timings without telling anyone (note to self - don't try and time Cat 3 to within the millisecond).

The Quantums are lit for the last 25 seconds, they run at different durations so one continues to run after the first one stopped, not funny but thanks to Pyro Pete as he did get a good stills shot of their finale together so it must have been close. Rocket explodes near the crowd as Mike40 on the PA adds his closing comment. Now that rocket was angled at about 10 degrees off the vertical and slightly away from the crowd, not funny it got that close to the audience, glad rockets not being generally allowed next time.

We had to drop the castle there and then to allow the pro displays to be seen and despite earlier fears that it was a bit shaky we really struggled to get it to fall over. In the end it took us all charging at the thing to get it down! Not bad for something built only that day.

Our timings were a bit out and we were disappointed by that. Folk disappear to the bar after the comp, Bouncing Bangers go to hotel. Frankly we were beat in more ways than one. We'd spent about 18 hours on site and we had kids with us that we needed to get into bed and to be honest we felt we missed out on not joining everyone else for a beer.

Thanks for the help in clearing up from Jeff. Thanks for the support on this website after the comp on the crazy idea.

Ignore the comp, ignore the fact we didn't win, ignore the cost and ignore the blisters and aching muscles. This one tested our team's resolve and friendship and despite the hardship and the frustrations both in planning and executing the design we are now better mates than ever.

PS. Jan 2007: Tigger texts me at New Year to say he has just seen a display fired off a mountain with a lake as a reflecting pool. There's a word I can't use here but trust me, when I see him...

MAIN CAMERA: View from right at the front of the spectator area. This is the highest quality video clip. Windows Media format, 960x540 (widescreen format), 89Mb, click on the image to the left. Please download it all before playing. A stills from this video is shown above. See the clips below for views from further back.

MONKEY CAM: A unique view from the sidelines, from a camera mounted on UKFR member Crazedmonkey's helmet. This is a lower quality (noisy) clip due to the analogue source camera. Windows Media format, 83Mb, click on the image to the left. Please download it all before playing.

FLASH2 CAM: From the Video Vault, footage by Flash2 from a superb viewpoint near the back. Quicktime format, 23Mb, click on the image to access this from the Video Vault section.

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