by Jo Finch
It was mid March. I had been on the project for 11 weeks, flying by the seat of my pants and trying to get a handle on how the organisation works. We were sitting in a meeting with Shaun Ormrod, MD of Farnborough International and Richard Noble was promising the world in pursuit of a ‘fitting’ presence for Bloodhound at FIA 2010.
I was frantically scribbling on a scrap of paper and trying to draw Richard’s attention to my scrawl... ‘the new show car won’t be ready!!!!’ (I’d been in a design meeting some 4 weeks earlier and knew the time line).
Richard said ‘we need a bigger building’, Shaun looked nervous. I was thinking, ‘so this is how the man works’; think big, believe big and keep on believing. I was either with him on this or, by definition, against him. So, we were set to put on the biggest show of Bloodhound by far. Then it came, my ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ moment. ‘Right Jo, that’s your job, get us a building.’ Without asking, I knew that my budget for said building would be £0 or as close to it as possible.
From this moment, the Farnborough Team started developing. You can check the Team page on our web site and you’ll see the faces and profiles of a relatively small group of people who are working, full time on the project but they are only the tip of the ‘Team FIA’ iceberg.
The power of positive thought and a truly inspirational goal are what drive this project and are what draw so many wonderful people to it. The offer of the beautiful building we have at Farnborough, from Alex Robertson, MD of GL events Owen Brown and the coming-together of everything in it are testament to this.
The word ‘serendipity’ comes to mind when I think of all the ‘fortuitous’ phone calls, to just the right person and the random meetings with, the very people who can make or do what is required and with those, who have great creative minds and want to offer their products and services.
Our very coherent, even ‘corporate’ look at Farnborough is, in great part, due to Oliver Bell of Bell Stone Associates Ltd, who have created all of our graphics on their wonderful modular system and have promised to support us throughout the life of the project. Our University of West of England (UWE) student, Hywel Vaughan has been an invaluable support in bringing the design elements together and in being our liaison with Oliver. We now have a much bigger tool kit from which to produce the right show appropriate to each event.
The need to fill this big building and to show the world just how far the project has come has focused the efforts of so many. All of our sponsor activity is spearheaded by Conor La Grue and supported by Tony Parraman. To this end, we have the ‘Bloodhound Driving Experience’, brought together at a pace, through a massive, collaborative effort by Intel, the University of Southampton, UWE, Cursive, Racecentre, Escape studios and Emergent Game Technologies for launch at Farnborough. I whooped with delight at my first go, then watched our aerodynamicist, Ron Ayers have a go and you too can test your skills at the controls of the world’s fastest car!
Annie Berrisford, our Turn-Around Procedures Engineer drove the effort with the SUPACAT team, to deliver their 6 wheeled, rocket transporting, dessert support vehicle, which stands, as a beacon, outside our pavilion (there isn’t room inside!). Young Hywel also designed the paint job on the Supacat. Daniel Jubb got up at the crack of dawn to get the HTP pump delivered for Monday morning, to sit alongside the rocket motor which his company Falcon Project have designed and built for us.
Just to make things a little more interesting, we had another event running until Sunday, the day before FIA opened. We were able to bring the existing front end of the show car out early but we needed a second jet. Up steps Dave Rowley, who with his contacts at RAF Cosford, found us an engine. We have Cosford’s cut-away EJ200, thanks to RAF Cosford and the transportation supplied by one of our 1K supporter’s club members. When the complicated logistics for the event required so many movements of large items within days, G&J Lockwood Ltd, our haulier sponsor, needed some help. I called Allan Read from Storacar. Allan is one of our many 1K club members who give up their time to support our events in a voluntary capacity. Allan’s man Derek, delivered the goods. Meanwhile, the new back end of the show car was being brought by trailer from the Isle of Wight by a man called Roger, who was recommended by a man, who was, in turn, recommended by a man, who wasn’t available at such short notice!
Roger had collected the new back end from Aero Composites, who had pulled out all the stops to get it sprayed in time with the Akzo Noble paint still ‘green’ as he pulled away. The complete show car was put together on Sunday for the first time, with the help of its builder Mike Horne and designer of the new back end, Owen Evans. They and all their team, had worked unbelievably hard to have the car ready in time. Conor La Grue, ably assisted by Sarah Covell, got busy applying all the graphics to the car and the SUPACAT. These were hot off the press from Vinyl Graphics of Bristol; thanks Andy!
During the planning for Farnborough, Bloodhound SSC was weaving its magic and drawing in new interest. For some, the inspiration is speed; the petrol-head’s aphrodisiac and for others, it’s our commitment to inspire the makers and creators of the future through our education programme. Whatever the draw, we have power in our pavilion thanks to Trevor Roberts, MD of RME Services Ltd and all of our heavy lifting has been done care of CEVA Showfreight and the generosity of MD Phil Powell.
Lockheed Martin have produced an educational activity for us, which demonstrates the gyroscopic forces on the wheels of Bloodhound. You can try this out and also see a full size Bloodhound aluminium wheel made for us by Alimex UK Precision in Aluminium Ltd. A big thanks to Alimex MD, Chris Watts and our own John Davis for getting this to us. We have activities on the superb interactive white boards provided and supported by Promethean and other fun stuff supported by Primary Engineer. You can build a K’Nex rocket car to pump up and race down our new track.
Back to the team that you see listed on our web site, for a moment. We are as smart as our exhibition in our new shirts, thanks to many of our sponsors and to the efforts of Sarah, Conor, Hywel and Ian Glover. Ian works tirelessly to produce and deliver our merchandise, both to shows and to fulfil internet orders as well as running the 1K Club and its events.
You’re reading this thanks to the work of Nick Chapman, our web manager. Nick also supports a lot of the 1K club activity and the FIN donation programme; have you got your name on the tail fin of Bloodhound yet?
Recent exposure in the press and on television has been unprecedented and is down to the hard work of Richard Knight and Jules Tipler of Mettle PR.
All of this is for all of you who want to be a part of our great adventure. From the enthusiastic support, for commercial and educational events, from our volunteer force of STEM ambassadors and 1K club members, to every one of our financial and product sponsors. From Sarah, who got the stand team together and ran the show until Friday to Tony, who orchestrated the arrival of materials from our previous event then took over from Sarah for the weekend. To those that fetched and carried, vacuumed the floor or polished the car, gave me a shoulder to lean on (Mark Chapman’s are particularly broad) or bought the coffee. From James on I Gate and the forklift operators to the girls that issued our passes, Ali the driver to Sarah Jones in the organisers office and the many more people not mentioned by name, I value you all.
Shaun Ormrod stood in the building and nodded approvingly. I thought, ‘we’ve delivered!’ Richard obviously, never doubted that we would.
So I thank you, one and all, for helping to create our presence at FIA 2010.
We make a great team!