Presthaven Sands, North Wales, 26th-29th September 2014
by Jim Jenkins
A return to North Wales brought more Queenies along to the annual bash that’s known as the Fan Club Convention. There had been an 17 month wait since last years and everyone in attendance was well up to party like there’s no tomorrow!
Presthaven Sands in Gronant, next door to Prestatyn, was the venue for our 29th Annual Queen Fan Club Convention, a new venue for the proceedings. The park was vast and the main function ballroom was in the middle of the complex.
Conventioneers started congregating in the Carousel Bar waiting to check in. The bar was open so made the wait bearable, ‘Convention Water’ started to flow and didn’t stop! People made their way to the allocated caravans to drop off luggage and then head back to the bar to meet up with friends.
The Friday entertainment started late afternoon with Wayne Plants KARAOKE session which always goes down well. Fans were asked to send their favourite videos so a top 10 chart could be collated. The VIDEO TOP 10 had its countdown to the No.1 which was I Want To Break Free.
The weekends compere, NICK DADD read out the required laws and introduced our longest serving fan club secretary JACKY SMITH to the stage.
Jacky welcomed everyone followed by yours truly who had been sent a message from Brian to read out wishing the fan club a happy 40th and a special thank you to Jacky for keeping it going! The message was made available on a card for all attendees.
We had a special cake competition and the winner of the “KILLER – LET THEM EAT CAKE – QUEEN” champion was chosen. The cakes were sold off for MacMillan Cancer Research as they had a cake morning around the UK that day so we thought we would support the cause.
Our first weekend live band took to the stage THE DEPUTIES. Two of the band members JIM AND DAVE STEVENSON have been coming along to the conventions for over 20 years (Jim’s a past ‘Queen Mastermind’ winner too!) and were delighted to be asked to play at this year’s convention. They went down a storm. Deputies T shirts and cd’s were available to buy from the band. They were a most entertaining party band and received such a loud cheer. We were celebrating the Fan Clubs 40th birthday at the event and this was a great band to help us do it in style! Well done to them and a big thank you for playing!
The first disco finished the evening with many dancing the night away. There was only a small dance floor but this didn’t stop the dancers amongst us! The obligatory Breakthru train was on the go. Still a great sight to see.
The weather was kind to us which helped the outdoor activities. We had golf, basketball, archery and go kart challenge for Saturday and football for Sunday.
Everyone loves a bargain and there were some to be found at the MARKET PLACE and the Carousel Bar was packed with fans looking to buy Queen memorabilia and they did.
Convention T shirts, 40th fan club T shirts and more were made available at the fan club stall situated in the main ballroom. Big thanks to VAL MOSS for manning the stall.
In the main room we showed QUEEN+ADAM LAMBERT live from America and rather good it was too! The CURTAIN CALL auditions took place and then we had the elimination round of the LAP OF THE GODS Queen team quiz.
The first interview of the weekend brought the infamous producer MACK to the stage and he told some interesting stories of working with Queen in the studio and his friendship with Freddie. We were treated to Mack’s son and Freddie’s godson, FREDDIE MACK who told us stories of visiting Freddie. He is also a member of heavy metal band Liquid Meat and he premiered their video THEY LIED which went down quite well with the crowd! One of the best interviews we have had. The convention really is the place to be to hear these fabulous stories. We are so lucky people from Queen’s history come along to speak to us. A big thank you to Mack and his son Freddie for travelling over to be with us, for their patience in having so many photos taken and many questions asked to them! Our CHARITY AUCTION was fun with lots of laughter but we still raised monies for British Heart Foundation, MacMillan Cancer Charity and MPT. The second interview was with STEVE EMBERTON who took many photographs of Queen in the early 70s. He brought along a new book he has released ‘Visions Of Queen’ which is absolutely superb with some stunning and mainly unseen photographs, which makes a change. Well worth adding this book to your collection.
The evening began with the final of LAP OF THE GODS.,.REVISITED quiz. It was fun. Well done to the winning team. The FANCY DRESS which followed brought along so many entrants this year, so well done to everyone who took part.
Our live band for the Saturday had travelled all the way over from Holland to join us, ROBBY VALENTINE and his band and special guest MARIA CATHARINA, the lead singer of rock band ANIDAY put on an absolutely superb ‘Queen Tribute’ and played mostly songs from the 70’s which seem to please the enthusiastic crowd. In the middle of the set Robby gave a solo medley on piano which was stunning and had the crowd singing at the top of their voices. The whole room joined in for ‘Spread Your Wings’ and by the look on Robby’s face I don’t think he will forget that moment ever! He treated us to one of his own compositions ‘Over And Over Again’ which went down well and many singing along. Excellent performance and was greatly appreciated by the crowd. Robby, thank you to all of you for travelling over to the UK and join us. Robby had recorded a new Queen Tribute album which was made available and this has topped the rock chart in Holland. Good luck with your new album Bizarro World which is inevitably heading to No.1, one of the best albums I’ve heard all year. We then finished the day with our very own fan club DJ the wonderfully entertaining CHRIS IBBS giving it all and making it feel like a real Saturday night. Well done Chris it was fab!
Sunday already! A documentary about the ‘We Will Rock You Musical’ was shown before we had the fun quiz TEAM 4 CHALLENGE. Our first interview of the day was someone who was actually a member of Queen! For many years this guest was known as Doug X because nobody knew who he was! We found him and asked him to join us and after some trepidation he agreed and Queens 3rd bass player DOUG BOGIE was introduced. What an excellent interview this turned out to be. It was humorous throughout and Doug had written a Queen/Fan Club tribute song especially for the conventioneers and brought along a video which he made. It went down so well people shouted out for it to be repeated. So we did! It has an infectious tune and has been in my head since the convention!
A fun Queen ALPHABET GAME had everyone laughing at trying to think of a Queen song from a letter from the alphabet. Convention first-timer Carolina Castel from Chile was the winner!
GREG BROOKS our very own Queen Archivist gave a talk on his work for Queen and very interesting it was too. I joined him for a talk on the recently released Rainbow product. We then showed QUEEN LIVE AT THE RAINBOW. It sounded absolutely superb on the sound system and looked fantastic on the big screen. Marvellous!
Outside it was a glorious autumnal day that felt more like summer and a big crowd sat outside. A couple of conventioneers had to go home due to it being their sons 18th birthday but returned late afternoon. DOUG BOGIE joined the happy throng and was interviewed all over again. Thank you Doug for your patience and warmth. This guy has a great sense of humour and it showed! Those couple of hours flew by and it was time for the evening programme.
This started with the final of the CURTAIN CALL competition. Well done to everyone who entered. The PRIZE PRESENTATION took place and every winner was a champion in their own right and Jacky presented awards to each and every winner. Congratulations. The RAFFLE had everyone wanting to win a prize. A huge thank you to LINDA AND KEVIN MAHER for selling the tickets throughout the weekend. The MPT RAFFLE was also drawn. Maureen Barclay and her team including Bec Sharpe who dressed in various Freddie’s costumes all weekend and Sam Geden who dressed as Michael Jackson raised thousands of pounds! Well done to them!
The final live band of the weekend was ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ winner GARY MULLEN and his band THE WORKS. They rocked the convention! We have waited for quite a considerable amount of time to have Gary come and play and he managed to fit it into his busy schedule! Thanks Gary for coming along.
The ‘Farewell Disco’ kept fans on the dance floor for the rest of the evening. Nobody wanted the party to finish. The 29th came to an end and discussions for the big one for our 30th began as soon as the convention had ended!
Conventioneers were asked to complete a survey of all things convention and Arena have secured and confirmed 2015’s dates! Later in the year than normal but you can guarantee it will be hot inside the ballroom! We are returning to Pontins in Ainsdale near Southport and the 30th party convention will be held Friday 6th – Monday 9th November 2015. We hope you will join in the fun and help celebrate this auspicious occasion! Next year is the 40th anniversary of Bohemian Rhapsody and A Night At The Opera so we will be celebrating those releases too. It’s definitely going to be a convention not to miss! Are you coming along to join us?
BIG thanks to CHERYL DUKE for all her hard work and the rest of the Arena staff, Andy Bacon for sound and James Smith for his input. The behind the scenes guys who work damn hard for our enjoyment! Thanks to Presthaven staff too, especially the bar staff, who didn’t stop and joined in the fun by making their own t shirts. Who noticed?
See you in Ainsdale next November. Let’s make it the best yet. We can do it!