25th Annual International Queen Fan Club Convention
Official Fan Club Convention Write Up by Jim Jenkins
INTERNATIONAL QUEEN FAN CLUB SILVER JUBILEE CONVENTION
26TH-29TH MARCH 20910 – GREAT YARMOUTH
Every year the International Queen Fan club hold an annual weekend convention at the British seaside and it truly becomes International as Fan Club members from all over the world travel to this event, which was actually the 25th Silver Jubilee Convention. It all started back in the Magic year of 1986 in Great Yarmouth and then via Southport, Camber Sands, Prestatyn and Brean Sands the event became full circle as this year everybody headed back to where it all began, Great Yarmouth to hold this special party. These events have become quite unique.
Check-in at Vauxhall Holiday Park was efficient and quick and everybody headed for the V Lounge – the sites newly renovated bar. It soon filled with fans, greeting one another and a large screen displayed Queen videos to the delight of all. It’s a good relaxing way to start the weekend off and the atmosphere created is magical. Shouts of “the Dutch fans” have arrived and “the Germans are here” echo through the room as fans wait to greet their friends.
Many fans join in the various activities that take place, friends meet up and have fun and some like to sit and watch and soak up the electric atmosphere. Over the years thousands of pounds have been raised for a variety of charities and worthy causes and this year was no exception. People have met their respective partners and life long friendships have been formed. Anybody who goes on their own soon make friends as really lovely friendly people attend. It’s hip and happening!
The major events are held in the Regency Room – it is a big-sized ballroom with a massive dance floor, huge bar area and plenty of seats for one and all. Large screens adorned the walls of this giant room so nobody would miss anything that was happening on the main stage. Hannie Rogeveen, who runs the Dutch Fan Club was celebrating a special birthday and tables were laid out and she brought with her special Sarah birthday cake to share amongst friends.
Arena Travel who have organised these events since its beginnings opened proceedings with a karaoke bit of fun. Fans that took part sang the words without any lyrics on screens and they did it word perfect! Well done to all for the entertainment.
The packed room cheered and applauded Fan Club president JACKY SMITH! Jacky welcomed everybody to the convention, those that return year after year, ones who have returned after a break and all the convention virgins! More cheers and loud applause when two messages were shown on the screens from BRIAN MAY and ROGER TAYLOR. There was a special surprise too from ROGER. He had sent a new track to play he had just completed that day called Smile which went down a real treat! Everybody showed their appreciation for that.
On with some live music. The first act for the weekend was a welcome return to the convention STILLYANO, who rocked with some great songs which included their own versions of our favourite songs. The rock version of Living On My Own and their brilliant rendition of I’m Going Slightly Mad and a powerful performance of Barcelona and many others with lead vocals from Stilly. This Exeter based band went down a storm. (We can see them again at Twixmas in Coventry in December!).
The evening ended with the Party Time Disco which included Queen and solo hits, remixes and favourite album tracks along with some video footage from concerts throughout the years such as The Rainbow, Hyde Park, Hammersmith Odeon and Earls Court. We were even treated to Queens first appearance on Top Of The Pops with Seven Seas Of Rhye. The dance floor remained full from start to finish and the holiday park bar and security staff witnessed the Conventions Breakthru conga train! A sight to behold. Photos from past 25 years of conventions were also showed on the big screens. A lot of people carry on partying the night away and they were very respectful to others on the site, so thanks for that!
The sun shone and greeted conventioneers on the Saturday morning. The Market Place opened for sale of much Queen memorabilia and some unusual items too. The Arts & Crafts were set up in the V Lounge and there we also held the first Facebook/Forum meeting so fans who use the internet facilities could meet who they have been chatting to! An interesting discussion took place on the negative side of using internet but it was fun to meet up with like-minded people.
There were many Queen related programmes on QTV for those who wanted to stay in the caravans (our Queen mobile homes for the weekend) and watch TV or for sporting enthusiasts you could join in the Pool competition, or the elimination of Queenseye, our version of TV’s Bullseye. In the ballroom the Queenheads Elimination rounds took place to find the Challengers team for the finale the following day. This was followed by the open auditions for Conventions Got Talent.
What turned out to be a highlight of the weekend was the Jam Session. This went down a treat and left everybody wanting more! Well done to everybody who joined in – lots of budding musicians in the Queen Fan Club.
David Cripps from Knebworth House gave an impromptu speech on the Queen Exhibition to take place during August later in the year. He mentioned if anybody donated their own personal items to the exhibition, they would be invited to the special opening and they would be credited for loaning the item. Jacky said we had sold many of the bands clothing at previous conventions and if anybody wanted to loan the item back to contact her.
The first interview of the weekend was with a very special guest indeed. JIM JENKINS was very proud to introduce and welcome to the Convention the fiercely private KASHMIRA COOKE, Freddie Mercurys sister. A rapturous applause greeted her to the stage. Jim asked the questions and we heard about life in Africa and how the family dealt with uprooting and moving to London. Kash also spoke about Freddies interest in music and joining QUEEN, and Freddie the private man. More than interesting for Queen fans! Kash was shown respect and gratitude. The audience listened intensely to every word. Kash took questions from the floor and Jacky moved around the packed floor with the famous roving mic! Kash answered every question that she was asked – even ones she had to think deeply about and come back to at the end of the interview session.
Kashs husband ROGER COOKE informed the crowd they had travelled to the convention in Freddies Rolls Royce and asked if anybody would like their photograph taken inside the car with a donation to Mercury Phoenix Trust. Many took the offer. Kash also offered to sign autographs. She kindly did this for a quite a few hours after the interview ended. A big thank you to Kash and Roger for coming along, it was extremely appreciated. This was one of the major highlights of all 25 conventions.
The charity auction followed, with bidding from Kashs autograph queue. There were some great items up for grabs and sometimes the bids were exciting as fans battled it out to obtain the one item they wanted! This is the opportunity to purchase genuine clothes worn by the band, wonderfully shown by Jacky Smith. There were autographed items and memorabilia all for a good cause and Jim Jenkins our auctioneer raises as much as possible. Thank you to everybody who bought an item at the auction. All monies raised goes to charity and Queen fans are very generous. Thanks to Graham, Helen and Neil for assistance to ensure fans got their bids in.
We also showed Rogers and Brians solo videos in the V Lounge, Freddies too of course! Queen music is everywhere during the weekend.
Saturday night already and we had two Magic 80’s Fancy Dress Competitions, one for the kiddies and one for the adults. Though it was noticed that there were a couple of adults in the kiddies part dressed as kids! All for fun I guess! The audience choose their winners. Thanks must go to everyone who made a big effort to make their costumes – there were some brilliant ones this year! Well done to all.
Jacky made the first presentation of the weekend to Arenas ex head man KEITH HARRIS. Keith had organised all previous 24 conventions (and even had a hand in this years too) and he popped along to say hello. Jacky presented Keith with a special disc featuring all Queen albums that have been released whilst Keith was in charge! It was from the Fans thanking him for his contribution. Keith took to the microphone to thank everybody and told a couple of stories of things that had happened over the 25 years. Shouts of “Keith is a legend” filled the hall.
Fan Club members were asked to send in their favourite solo video and all information was kindly collated by STEVE MILLWARD who compiled the chart. A special Fans Top 20 Video Countdown Chart was shown with a commentary by Jim Jenkins with facts about each video/song. What was enjoyable was the fact that the youngsters could have a dance themselves to the songs on the dance floor and they even did their own mini Breakthru conga train. What a lovely sight that was. They were enjoying their own celebration! The video at the top of the chart was Princes Of The Universe.
The Arena staff gave an impromptu show of various 80’s music and dance routine. A rather comical sight to see. An entertaining interlude! The crowd loved it. Jacky surprised Arenas manager in charge of this event CHERYL DUKE with a presentation of a special disc to hang on their office wall, thanking Arena for organising the 25 conventions. Cheryl thanked Jacky and the fans on behalf of the Company.
More live entertainment and Irelands popular Queen tribute band FLASH HARRY graced the convention stage and had the crowd rocking away. Lead singer HARRY HAMILTON ensured everybody had a good time. Thanks for coming along guys and joining in the Silver Jubilee celebrations.
The Magic 80s Party Nite Disco ensured more Queen music blasted out the mighty speakers and kept everybody on the dance floor for quite a few hours. More private parties to keep the celebrations going. Hip hip hooray!
Sunday morning and another full day of Queen activities to keep all the Queen fans happy. Queen The Ultimate Concert was a selection of various gigs through Queens career, chosen by the fans and this special concert was put together from the list sent in. More sporting events were held and there was a 5-a-side football match and even golf. There was a non-Queen quiz to join in for the Team 4 Challenge – and lots did take part in this, with Neil Cameron asking the questions.
A crowd piled into the V Lounge to watch the We Will Rock You Musical, great for those who haven’t been able to go and see the actual show. Queens archivist GREG BROOKES was introduced by Jim and was welcomed back to the Convention and this time instead of bringing audio, he had brought along some out-takes from a couple of video shoots. A highlight of this years Convention was quite emotional to watch and there were tears in the room. He took questions from the floor and promised to bring back more for next year. (Can you imagine the out-takes for I Want To Break Free!!)
The first of the days interviews were held in The Regency Room and Jim brought onto the stage Freddies chauffeur, confidante and personal friend TERRY GIDDINGS and Sound Engineer JOHN BROUGH. They were welcomed enthusiastically. Once again Jim presided over the interview and we heard many stories of life in the studio from John and what it was like to drive Freddie round. Both spoke of Freddies sincerity and generosity and how they felt to be part of a family. Jacky once again had the roving mic and questions were taken from the floor. Many thanks to both gentlemen for taking time out of their busy lives to come along and tell us about life with Freddie and Queen.
Another interview immediately followed and the guest needed no introduction as we welcomed back Freddies P.A. PETER FREESTONE. The crowd applauded and cheered. Jim asked the questions and Peter revealed stories such as Freddie meeting Montserrat Caballe for the first time and the recording sessions that followed. Originally only a single was to be recorded but Montserrat asked Freddie to write an albums worth of songs! Freddie was elated. Peter recalled his first meeting with Freddie and how he was given the permanent job after the successful Crazy Tour. Jacky had the roving mic once more to take questions from the fans. Time didn’t permit much more to be revealed but theres always next year! Thank you Peter for travelling from Czech Republic to join us, you are always welcome at the Conventions.
A ‘Games Show Bonanza’ was underway and we had our own take on popular TV quiz shows. No lazing on a Sunday afternoon for conventioneers! First up was Play Your Queens Right – a card was shown with a picture sleeve from a Queen single – you then had to guess if the next one was higher or lower in the UK chart! Bit of fun! Neil encouraging shouts from the crowd of “higher” or “lower”! Queenseye Final followed as the dart board was put onto the stage. One had to answer a Queen related question whilst the dart player threw the dart to try and achieve hitting the number from the answer to the question! BRETT LINFORTH presided over this and there was more than one excitable contestant!
The Alphabet Game was a success last year – even if a certain fan couldn’t think of a Queen song beginning with B (sorry Jacqui Batty!) – this year the fans had to think of a SOLO song title! It sure wasn’t easy. Get your own back on organiser Jim Jenkins to try it out – then Jacky Smith had a go! Gave the crowd a good laugh or two!! Try it yourself at home for a bit of fun! The final of Queenheads concluded this part of the programme! This year The Challengers beat the reigning champions! Congratulations to all the winners!
As a thank you to fans who had attended all 25 conventions Jacky presented them with specially made frames signed by Brian and Roger. They were appreciatively received! Nice momentum for the chosen few!
Time waits for nobody as we found out as Sunday night was upon us. Jacky proposed a toast to JIM HUTTON who sadly passed away in January. Jim was a guest at many conventions and he loved the time he spent with everybody and we all loved him being with us! Rest peacefully Jim.
Tonights theme was silver to coincide with the Silver Jubilee celebrations. Some fans decorated their tables in the ballroom with silver tablecloths and balloons were attached to tables and chairs! This created a terrific atmosphere – everybody was enjoying this celebration!
Time for prize presentations to all the winners of the various events that have taken place over the weekend. There was even a prize for the best decorated caravan! They certainly were the champions! Raffle prizes were drawn and there were some fantastic prizes to be won from the Fan Club raffle and the MPT raffle kindly organised by MAUREEN BARCLAY. Whoops of delight could be heard as the winners number was read out!
Jacky read out a message she had received from Jer Bulsara, Freddies mum, wishing everybody a happy convention and congratulating Jacky on running the Fan Club and holding these events to keep her sons memory alive! A huge cheer and applause to Mrs Bulsara for thinking about us all. Jacky also read out a message Brian had texted through hoping everybody was enjoying the convention! More cheers!
There were more presentations but these took a certain two people by surprise – in a big way! Cheryl from Arena spoke about Jim Jenkins and how he had become a diva these past weeks since his operation but he had made it to the convention and Cheryl thanked him for his contribution and presented him with a beautiful bunch of yellow roses and a bottle of champagne to celebrate the Silver Jubilee. Then Cheryl made presentations to Jacky and to VAL MOSS for everything they have done and keeping the Fan Club and this event going. More flowers and champagne! All three were delighted with their gifts.
Presentations didn’t stop there! Jackys son and daughter, James and Sophie walked onto the stage along with friends Emily Smith and Kathy O’Halloran and Sophie took to the mic. Jacky and Jim were wondering what was going on – they were the only two in the room who didn’t know! Sophie took to the mic and gave a speech on Jacky and Jim and what they have both done for the conventions and other events throughout the years, They were both told to look at the screen. A pictorial history was presented to them from the past 25 years and what a slide show it was – with backing music from Queen of course! Thanks to Allison McCafferty who put the slideshow together. Then Sophie and the others presented Jacky and Jim with a book each which had messages from all the fans at the convention especially written to them. They were both shocked!
Then a message from JAMIE MOSES was put on the screen thanking them both and wishing them and all at the convention a happy Silver Jubilee. Thanks to Jamie for sending the message, the celebrations were going really well!
Finally Sophie presented to Jacky and Jim a bucket full of money from the fans. This was emotional for both and in turn they each thanked everybody for the wonderful gifts. Jacky thanked one and all for the lovely surprise and gifts and thanked her sister Val for everything she has done too. Jim thanked everybody for the gifts and thanked his best mate Graham Longworth for driving him to the convention and looking after him since the operation. “Jacky is a legend” and “Jim is a legend” could be heard amongst the crowd. It was amusing to hear the collection and signing of the book was going on right in front of them both when they were on the stage! Jacky and Jim were delighted with it all and doubt they will forget the 25th for a long time to come!
Neil from Arena gave a speech and thanked everybody who had helped organise and take part in the convention including STEPHEN CARTLEDGE the official Fan Club photographer who constantly snapped away all weekend to ensure a pictorial history would be available from this amazing weekend! Jacky finally thanked everyone who helped and all the fans for making the weekend so special and to QUEEN!
Sunday nights activities got back to the programme for the final live band of the weekend. All the way from Germany, QUEENKINGS took to the stage. Once again a live band rocked the night away and they treated us to some old songs from the Queen catalogue such as Father To Son, White Queen and The Millionaire Waltz to name but three! A highlight was when soprano CHRISTINE GOGOLIN joined the band on stage to sing songs from the Barcelona album. Simply beautiful! Danke Schon to all for travelling over to the UK to join the Silver Jubilee Convention.
The lights dimmed and the final Last Nite Party Disco was kicked off and once more the dance floor remained full for hours – right til the end! Friends will be friends for sure! Sadly the party came to an end with the strains of God Save The Queen and everybody in fine form vocally. Special thanks to ROB DEAN for programming all the music and videos for the weekend into the Convention Laptop!
What a party this had turned out to be, a Silver Jubilee celebrated in a style to which we are all accustomed. Freddie would be proud!
Whoever would have thought it – 25 years ago in Great Yarmouth what was tried out and started something big and some people didn’t think it would work – how wrong they were! Fans would join in for a weekend of fun n frolics and celebrate the music of the greatest rock band in the world QUEEN. It’s the place to be and next years is already in the planning stages. So keep the weekend of 25th-28th March 2011 free and put into your diaries now cos we will be back at the Vauxhall Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth for No. 26 – you coming along? The full circle continues! See you there!