By Peter Harrison, a Norfolk Ambassador and an organiser of the Great Yarmouth WHEELS Festival.
In mid-September the BLOODHOUND show car and Events Team supported the Great Yarmouth WHEELS Festival. In a large marquee only a few feet from the beach many thousands of people in Norfolk were able to experience the BLOODHOUND Project for the first time.
The WHEELS Festival was part of a local authority initiative to fund local events in order to extend the holiday season to benefit both the seaside traders and visitors. This enabled those attending to hear first-hand about BLOODHOUND SSC, make K’nex air-powered vehicles and design and build model rocket cars.
BLOODHOUND and me
I have supported the Project from the outset and its commitment to STEM education. This all started in 2009 with a chance meeting at Snetterton Motor Racing circuit when Andy Green was trying his hand at racing a Lotus Elise. It was still early days for BLOODHOUND and Ian Glover (1K Club President) was manning a merchandise stall. I was already a 1K Club member and asked Ian how we could find out more about the Project. Find 100 people and I will bring Andy to talk to them he said. Well, I found nearly 200 and a fantastic evening took place.
Fast forward to 2012, which was not only when the Olympic Games came to London, it was also the 50th Anniversary of the Classic MGB Roadster. I persuaded nearly 120 owners of the marque to gather on the seafront at Great Yarmouth. In the brilliant late afternoon sunshine after a wonderful day I mused with my loyal helpers about having a BLOODHOUND event in the same place – could it be done? David Helsdon, the newly appointed Great Yarmouth Events Manager, and Michael Cole, proprietor of Joyland and the American Diner, (we were on Michael’s premises amidst a sea of MGBs) jumped at the suggestion.
At this point I became an Ambassador and undertook many related activities and met some great people and students. I helped run a STEM club for 18 months and spoke to many clubs and societies. Close contact with STEM co-ordinators proved invaluable as I met other Ambassadors and teachers at their networking events.
Setting up the Festival
In late 2013 I helped the Education Delivery Team when they ran a number of ‘experience days’ at Ormiston Venture Academy in Norfolk (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7aOWca2B98).
Both David Helsdon and Michael Cole came along to see the setting up of the full-scale BLOODHOUND SSC educational model car at the Academy and were suitably impressed. Then, by late spring 2015, David secured the necessary funding with additional contributions from Michael Cole to establish the first Great Yarmouth Wheels Festival to be run from 12-13 September.
Michael Cole agreed to the erection of a suitable marquee on his land and the BLOODHOUND site visit team gave their thumbs up to all the proposals, including the model rocket car track.
Festivals and STEM do mix!
To satisfy the funding grant we had to have other attractions at various locations. My suggestion of fun attractions combined with a STEM theme was agreed.
The local STEM co-ordinators were keen to be involved along with Nexus Engineering, a local engineering training centre, which wanted to demonstrate 3D printing. I managed to get HA Fox, the local Jaguar dealer, to bring a new F-Type Jaguar and the local newspaper printed a coupon to discount the cost of making a model rocket car.
All the Family love model rocket cars
Santa Pod brought its dragster demonstrator and a group of local model engineering clubs displayed various exhibits, from model traction engines to steam engines.
You may not be aware that Richard Noble road-tested the now legendary Lotus Carlton for Autocar magazine just after the car was launched in 1989. I am the lucky owner of one of these rare high performance saloons and managed to get a number of these to the Festival. Another friend arranged for a display of Jaguar sports cars.
All this was supplemented by a display of American hot rod cars, classic cars and other ‘fun cars’, plus a pop-up BMX track for younger children.
Sun, sea and a supersonic car
A brilliant seaside sunrise on the Friday saw the BLOODHOUND Show Car being unloaded from its truck at 6.00am and the hard-working BLOODHOUND Events Team had it fully operational by 5.00pm. Passing visitors were keen to know what was happening and I found myself giving impromptu talks on the Project in glorious sunshine to groups of up to 15 people! (I found out later that the security staff had taken pictures of the Show Car for people who had turned up at 3.00am – such is the draw of BLOODHOUND!).
It was a dismal wet start to the Festival on the first day but Richard Noble had confirmed he would be along to offer support. I am pleased to say that when he arrived in late morning we were in full sunshine mode. Thankfully we enjoyed fine weather for the rest of the day and I met a number of people who had been to the talk by Andy nearly six years ago.
Sunday dawned bright and warm. We were featured early in the morning in a local BBC Radio local quiz programme. The presenter had to try her hand in the BLOODHOUND driving simulator before being allowed to search for the clue. The lady in question managed to reach 1,029mph, to great excitement all round!
The very pleased BBC Radio Norfolk Treasure Quest presenter achieved 1,029mph on the Bloodhound simulator – great opportunity to let the audience know we were there!
Star of the show
The Festival was deemed to be a great success and at the time of writing I have heard more funding may well be available for an even bigger event in 2016, but who can we get that would be a bigger attraction than BLOODHOUND?
I am pleased that BLOODHOUND now has an even greater profile in the area and there are more enquiries for my Ambassador involvement. We now know that the Project will extend into 2017 which gives me more opportunities to help drive the STEM mission of BLOODHOUND!