After our win at Southport in 2010 we then, in 2011, exhibited at the UK Festival of Fireworks, retaining our title, and became British Musical Firework Champions 2011, all three in the space of five weeks!
Throughout this journey we have met some great people and made some amazing friends, Graham and Kath from Pyro 2000 being two of them. On 5th October 2011, still recovering from Southport an email from Graham popped up providing an application form for the Monaco International Musical Firework Championships 2012. On 13th December, still recovering from the November season, an email from Caroline at JCO popped up saying ‘Good news for you about Monaco contest 2012. They select your England team’.
"Good news for you about Monaco contest 2012. They select your England team"
"The very next day Mark began designing the display: it was set to be the biggest firework display we have fired to date"
Armed with some great advice, hints and tips, we started preparations. The organisation wasn’t without its ‘hurdles’, the first being that the only hazardous ferry to go direct to France was being taken out of the water for repairs for the whole of August! So, after a lot of calls and searching, we decided that the next best option was to get the ferry from Immingham to Cuxhaven, travel through Germany and then on to Monaco. After a meeting at HQ with the crew, friends and family who were in the pub that day we came up with a play list. The very next day Mark began designing the display: it was set to be the biggest firework display we have fired to date. The show took many months of designing and preparation and consisted of over 200 candles, over 1500 single shots, over 300 slices and close to 2000 shells and various other effects totalling nearly 1 tonne of net explosive quantity. Within the weeks leading up to display day we received numerous emails and calls from other fireworks companies, clients and supporters wishing us luck, quite a few even came out to watch and show support which we found really humbling.
"The show took many months of designing and preparation and consisted of over 200 candles, over 1500 single shots, over 300 slices and close to 2000 shells"
With the display being in Monaco, which has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires in the world, security is paramount. Not only did we have to provide passport details for all crew members and drivers, but we also had to gain authorisation to fire there and drive through the principality with the explosives. The endless spreadsheets containing product detail, CAD numbers, factory addresses, neq weight, gross weight, dangerous goods note, packing lists, firing orders etc. was crazy; just collating all the CADs for the thousands of products was a job in itself
"With the display being in Monaco, which has the highest number of millionaires and billionaires in the world, security is paramount."
The 40ft artic. wagon containing the fireworks was met by Mark and a police escort at exactly 9pm on the Thursday 23rd. The streets leading down to the harbour were closed and lined with the military as the wagon made its descent to the harbour where the crew were waiting to offload the explosives and hardware (we felt like royalty). As the police escort and the wagon made its way onto the promenade, the unscheduled arrival and docking of a £300 million yacht halted procedures. After lots of flicking through paperwork and talking with the harbour master, the police informed us that the yacht had not been scheduled to dock. The chief of police was called down and, after lots more paper shuffling and calls, we were told that we couldn’t offload the explosives until the morning when the yacht would set sail. Thankfully the drivers agreed to stop overnight and leave the wagon on the promenade, but this set us back a good few hours and, with such a big show, every minute counts. We were grateful to have the help of the JCO Crew whom we quickly adopted as part of the Pyrotex family. Their knowledge and experience of working the site was invaluable. Everyone worked incredibly hard on the night and for the following two days in the blistering heat and managed to get back on schedule. It was the most intense set up most of us had worked in and the heat was just incredible. However, the jovial atmosphere remained.
"The 40ft artic. wagon containing the fireworks was met by Mark and a police escort"
At 9.30pm on 25th August the lights of Monaco Harbour were cut and the announcement of our impending display for England resounded around Monaco – at which point we were feeling ill with anxiety and pressure. After two salute firework shells resounded the music started and our display began to fire: for 25 minutes the skies over Port Hercule were ablaze with fireworks dancing to the beat of the music. We are not sure if it was divine intervention or the gods applauding us but, as the finale reached its end, the heavens opened and the largest thunderstorm Monaco had ever seen swept through the harbour, causing the most dramatic end to the display. After the display we attended the award ceremony and dinner set in the impressive Metropole Hotel. We were stood soaking wet awaiting our fate! After what seemed like a lifetime of talking, none of which we could understand, we were announced as the Jury’s International Champions of 2012. This was the proudest and best moment of our careers: Pyrotex, a small family-owned business, winning the International Champions for England – incredible! There was still the result of the Audience Award and… we’d won that too!