The BLOODHOUND Ambassadors play a vital role in the BLOODHOUND Project and the recent debut of the Car at the BLOODHOUND Expo in London was no different.
We asked some of our Ambassadors what the experience was like – you can read their reactions below and we’ll publish more later in the year. If these inspire you to join us as an Ambassador, you can find out more about the Ambassador programme in the Education section of our website and then please sign up using the link on that page.
We’d like to thank all of our Ambassadors for their help with BLOODHOUND Expo and thank David Barker, Colin Matthews, Ian Northeast and Alan Frener for their stories.
BLOODHOUND – the new Concorde?
By David Barker
For a regular ambassador the World Debut was different to most events. We are used to seeing BLOODHOUND at an event. Here BLOODHOUND was the event. And that gave it a completely different dynamic. We were presented with mostly knowledgeable and enthusiastic visitors who did not need the amount of technical knowledge and explanation that we are used to giving out. Questions were much more detailed and specific. In addition, the ‘names on the fin’ and merchandise virtually sold themselves.
As usual, we had an amazing mix of people of all nationalities including, of course, South Africa. But the highlight for me must have been speaking to a Rolls-Royce engineer who was involved in testing the wheels. He also spoke at length about materials technology, most of which was beyond me. But the best part was when he said he was on the runway when Brian Trubshaw took off in Concorde 002 for the first time (the Concorde flight was 1969 – I do remember watching it on TV and yes, I am that old!), which was a fitting comparison of cutting edge technology.
BLOODHOUND’s universal appeal
I attended the World Debut of the BLOODHOUND Car on Friday 25 September. I was asked to be at the debrief at 8.15am at Canary Wharf – no worries, as I could just get the 5.24am from Gillingham and be there!
It all worked to plan and I arrived on time, only to be greeted by the Met Police Counter Terrorism unit. Intimidating or what! I was worried that there was some sort of impending danger and the event was cancelled, but no – they simply wanted photographs with the car and had dressed up for it!
That fun was just the start of day and from then it got 1000 times better!
Engaging with a truly excited audience
By Ian Northeast
I can’t get down to the Technical Centre at Avonmouth as often as I would like, so when the date of the World Debut was announced, I offered to help out as I was very keen to see the Car in its ‘finished’ state and I felt this was one of the few times when I could really help the project in a practical fashion.
The day itself started with a briefing, roles were issued and we all tried to prepare ourselves as well as possible. At 9.00am the doors opened and the world descended. Despite having been given a rolling list of jobs throughout the day, 1K Club president Ian Glover asked me to help him out with the merchandising stall. This gave me the perfect opportunity to engage directly with the public and hopefully make a difference to the amount of money they thought they wanted to spend.
I was shocked, stunned and amazed by the amount and variety of people who came to see the Car (10,000 over the two days). The questions were amazingly insightful and the genuine level of interest was brilliant. Before I knew it, it was 8pm and the day was gone in a blur.
It was amazing to see how much excitement the Project has raised in the public imagination. I find myself taking the Project for granted as I have given so many presentations; so much so that I had lost sight of just how fantastic this Project is. But the look on people’s faces when they first saw the Car and the palpable sense of real excitement at the venue really brought it back for me.
Proudly showing “our” Car to VIPs and visitors
By Alan Frener
I walked into the East Wintergardens on Thursday afternoon to see “our” Car surrounded by television cameras and various members of the team doing interviews – it was like a film set. The whole display was fantastic.
My job for the day was to assist Seema Quraishi (the BLOODHOUND Ambassador Programme Manager, who was as organised as ever) and the unflappable Nick Chapman (Web Manager) on reception, greeting the many and various VIPs and media. As the guests arrived, we had to greet them, and give them their name badges.
John Maguire was doing a live piece for the BBC Six O’Clock News and it was slightly amusing to see him wandering about reading from his prepared notes.
As the guests arrived the music was at full blast, and gradually the vast space of the room filled up with guests mingling with team members, all waiting for the big reveal.
The volume of the music went up, the dry ice cloaked the now covered car in smoke, the lighting effects all heightened the drama and, as the cover came off, the car got a tremendous ovation. There were a few speeches from the stage, including 18 year old Jess, an apprentice at Rolls-Royce who went into engineering after being inspired by the BLOODHOUND Project and acquitted herself admirably as she told her story.
Back on reception to greet the late comers, it became apparent that the volume of noise had decreased sharply. None of us had noticed that an automatic fire screen had come down in front of the doors, preventing guests from going in. It turned out that the dry ice had set off the smoke detectors, the fire screen had come down, the roof had opened up to let the smoke out and we were left waiting for security to reset the alarms.
One VIP arrived a little late and when he said he didn’t know much about BLOODHOUND, I said I would walk him round the Car. Having secured him a glass of wine, we walked around and his reaction was the same as everyone else I have talked to about BLOODHOUND – utter amazement. Very soon the two of us were in conversation with the Rolls-Royce Director of Marketing and I left these two VIPs to continue their discussion of STEM activities.
It was a brilliant evening.
On arrival at 7:30am the next morning, I walked into the display area to see the Car surrounded by the Police counter terrorism squad. As it turned out, they, like every other visitor, wanted to have their photo opportunity with the Car. Unreal!
On reception, we had worked out a system to get all the visitors in and out of the Expo as efficiently as possible. By the end of the day nearly 5,000 visitors had been through the doors and they had all left with a big smile, and a few pounds lighter as the merchandise and fin sales had been phenomenal.
The next day visitors again arrived in droves, but our system still coped with the numbers. Later in the day my duties changed and I spent some time talking to visitors, and also working with Richard on fin sales, along with Tania, one of our newest and youngest Ambassadors.
Eventually the Expo came to an end, and as soon as the last visitor left, we started dismantling everything so that the building was completely cleared by midnight. As we finished dismantling all the education stuff upstairs, Richard and I leaned over the rail as the team got the Car ready for transport and said “What are they doing to our Car Richard?”