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Join Jean-Michel Jarre and his special guest Sir Brian May for ‘Bridge from the Future,’ the opening event of this year’s STARMUS Festival


News of the World

Review of last years Convention...
Mon, Mar 13th, 2023


It finally happened! After a three year hiatus the convention bounced back in all its glory as only the convention can, at Pakefield Holiday Village in Lowestoft in glorious sunshine. The excitement hit the minute you arrived. People started meeting in the onsite ‘Princes (of the universe) Bar’ quite early, before check-in!
The events were mainly held in the huge ballroom which we christened the ‘Emerald Bar’. Before the main evening proceedings began there was an Ice Breakthru meeting for the new conventioneers and solo travellers. People were introduced to each other and hopefully friendships were struck up. No need for anybody to be on their own during the weekend! Attendees are so warm and welcoming.
We kicked off the 35th convention with WAYNE PLANT’S ‘Intimate Rush Karaoke’ with a bang! Wayne also hosted in the ‘Princes Bar’ during the intervals on Saturday and Sunday. NICK DADD appeared on stage for the obligatory ‘Health and Safety Regulations’ speech and then we held a special tribute to the late Sovereign H.M. Queen Elizabeth II  which included Brian playing the British National Anthem on the top of Buckingham Palace and the highly amusing rendition of We Will Rock You played out by the late Queen tapping a spoon on a china cup!. Then welcomed to the stage was the one and only JACKY SMITH, who received a huge welcome from the crowd. Jacky was thrilled to be back! She showed video messages from BRIAN MAY and ROGER TAYLOR to a roar of approval.  Big thanks to Brian and Roger for filming them! Jacky brought JIM JENKINS out onto the stage and he brought with him a surprise for Jacky! Brian recorded a special video message for her with congratulations on 40 years of running the Fan Club. Jacky’s face was a picture as Brian said hello to her from the screen with the words “Jacky, Jacky, Jacky. This is the message you don’t know about!” Cheers Brian for sending this special message and many thanks to PETE MALANDRONE for filming it!
Each night we featured live music from three very different bands! Our first from Geordie land WE ARE CHAMPIONgave such a great performance and blew everyone away with their rendition of Innuendo. Saturday night was provided by the one and only FLASH HARRY, awelcome return for the band from N. Ireland and the crowd lapped them up! They did a beautiful acapella Lily Of The Valley. Our last band of the 35th where from France, heavy metal Queen tribute band KING. There were so many highlights with different renditions of the songs we all know and love with Mustapha and Breakthru sensational! We also had afternoon entertainment. JIM STEVENSON and PAUL MORLAND gave a great set and LORETTA; what can be said – a ‘you-had-to-be-there’ moment! Thank you to all the musicians for entertaining us.
Following the live music every night we had a guest DJ set. First up was Wayne and he had everyone dancing the night away. Next night was Fab Radio’s Classic Rock DJ DAVID GELDARD who graced the DJ box to give us over 3 hours of the music we all love. The dance floor stayed full for over 3 hours! David interviewed attendees over the weekend for a convention special radio show broadcast a couple of weeks after the convention. Last but not least was a welcome return to the Icelandic Viking ATLI THOR. He did a great job. Big thanks to all our DJ’s.
On the big screen we showed a special edited version of Queen The Greatest with new links from its Producer Simon Lupton. The whole 52 episodes were shown over the two mornings.  Well done ANDY BACON for compiling this. We also showed an interview with DAVE FORDHAM and NEIL FAIRCLOUGH.
In the ballroom we always have a bit of fun. The Alphabet Game gives lots of tension and ended with Father and Daughter battling it out for the winner’s position. Teams of 4 were then put together with people joining various groups to make the required 4 for the Queen Quiz Elimination Round. The 2 teams with the highest scores were put through to the final which was to be held the following day. The Team Queen Quiz final teams were so knowledgeable but there could only be one winner. We also held a Team 4 Challenge Quiz competition brought competitiveness to the front!
At the conventions over the years we have had many guests who willingly give up their time to come and talk about their time around Queen. There have been varied guests which makes the interviews so enjoyable. Our first guests this year was guitar repairer and maker ANDREW GUYTON, who took on the job of renovating Brian’s ‘Red Special’. A most interesting talk from Andrew who explained how he was given the project and how it went about it. He explained how he made replicas of Brian’s guitar and what work came his way after the success of the project. Some great technical questions were asked and a queue of people formed after his interview to have photos with him and the guitar.  Other guests included DAVID SOAMES  who composed the song Freddie Mercury recorded, In My Defence from the hit musical Time. David explained how the project all came about and it was rather fascinating and a different presentation which was well received by all.
Queen’s Archivist GREG BROOKS explained all about his I Want It All memorabilia books, an exciting project which will be available next year. One of the highlights of this years convention was Greg premiering tracks from the forthcoming The Miracle album box set. Seven Seas Film Executive Producer  SIMON LUPTON joined Greg to explain his input into the project. He premiered a new video made exclusively to promote the box set, Was It All Worth It was a visual history of the members of the band and the band itself. It was well accepted by all in the hall and received such a cheer! The video was played for the new single Face It Alone. .Hearing it blast out through the P.A. system made the song sound totally different to listening on a laptop via social media. So many thought it sounds like a Bond movie theme! Simon also showed the full Question Interview with Brian May, Roger Taylor and Adam Lambert. He brought us up to date with recent work and took questions from the floor as did Greg too. Thank you to all our guests.
There was a Market Place which was set up in the Games Room with so much memorabilia for sale on the various stalls. We held a Fancy Dress Competition and there were some terrific entries this year once again.  Some people put in such an effort to make the costumes. Well done to all. The exciting Charity Auction raised more money this year than we have for some time. An ARTS AND CRAFT COMPETITION took placed and a BEST DRESSED CHALET WINDOW along with some sporting events such as Snooker, Table Tennis, Crazy Gold and Carpet Bowls!
Q Factor showed there was some talent in the room! Each contestant gave a great performance and then faced the judges – Jacky, Simon and Jim!
 The PRIZE PRESENTATION provided Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to the  runners up and well done those who took part.  THE RAFFLE prizes were given out from the Fan Club and The Mercury Phoenix Trust and MAUREEN BARCLAY thanked the contributors. Jacky thanked all the people who had made the convention a truly great weekend and everyone felt it was one of the best we have ever held. Arena’s CHERYL DUKE presented flowers to Jacky to celebrate her 40th year of being the Fan Club President. Cheryl also thanked everyone for their patience and understanding.
 At the end of the night the dance floor was full with fans relishing the sounds and the friendship and bonds formed over the weekend was evident. The ARENA staff joined in on the stage for the finale.
Special thanks must go to ANDY BACON for all his contributions, including a couple of video clips for the Queen Quiz and the running of the sound and visual. To all the ARENA STAFF and TOM TUNNEY and JOHN BRYANT and his staff. AMEY and SARAH for manning the merch stand and LINDA and KEV for selling raffle tickets! The convention couldn’t run without these guys. The biggest thanks to THE FANS who attended, for their exemplary behaviour, for creating one helluva atmosphere. There really is nothing like it in the world! Roll on the 36th! Are YOU joining us? Don’t miss out.

Details at www.arenatravel.com.  --- see you there!!

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