Three powerful gusts of wind lifted and twisted the Serious Stages Orbit roof built over the stage for the BBC’s Children In Need concert at Eirias Park in Colwyn Bay, Wales last week.
The incident occurred about midnight on Wednesday, November 15, with the stage fully constructed, rigged with lights awaiting the PA and video rigging to continue through Thursday, in readiness for Friday night’s live broadcast. The site was deserted apart from on-duty security personnel.
At this time the wind was still very angry and gusting up to 70mph but the immediate danger had passed. The wind gusts also caused serious damage to a large mature oak tree.
Immediately the news reached Steven Corfield and the Serious Stages team, who went into action, working through the night to amass two teams of riggers and a complete replacement roof all ready to roll by first light.
The first team of nine, led by Serious crew chief Dave Manuel, arrived on site and worked at clearing the wreckage and assessing the impact on the Luna PA wings and decking which were also supplied by Serious. Luckily these elements had incurred only minor damage and were inspected by structural experts and rectified by the Serious team where necessary.
PA (SSE) and XL Video rigging was able to continue almost as planned on Thursday, as their positions were all located off and to the sides of the actual stage, so they could work alongside the roof rescue team.
In the meantime, Morris and his production crew ensured that all the required health and safety procedures were followed, and lighting contractor HSL also supplied emergency technicians to disentangle their damaged equipment and rounded up replacement fixtures and trussing.
The second Serious team of 12 was led by Vic McConnell. As soon as the site was cleared—by about 5pm on the Thursday—they set to work erecting a new 2-bay Orbit, which was finished and fully skinned, complete with side sheds by midnight.
McConnell comments that he has been erecting Orbit structures and roofs for 17 years, and has seen them withstand all types of extreme weather conditions, including very high gusting winds in excess of 90mph but he’s never seen a roof damaged—let alone witnessed anything like this.
By 3.30am on Friday, November 17, the lighting was re-rigged and working, with LD Martyn Rourke programming his show, almost as if nothing had happened.
Production manager Keith Morris says, “It really was a case of the show having to go on. We had a national TV deadline to make and it goes without saying how impressed I was with Serious—they really pulled it off. Dave and Vic did a sterling job, their crew are excellent and they have a great team spirit.”
10,000 people enjoyed the Colwyn Bay show live with performances by Ronan Keating, Jamelia, The Feeling, and others. It was one of several events staged throughout Wales for the BBC’s 27th Children In Need, all of which helped push the total on-the-night figure raised to over $20 million.