Despite slightly inclement weather, which somewhat hampered the charity fundraising hot-air balloon rides which were due to take place, White Light's Open Day on May 15 proved a huge success with all who attended.

Originally intended as a chance for visitors to catch up with the latest products and services offered by the various members of The White Light Group, the Open Day expanded into something of a mini-trade show with many of the companies whose equipment White Light hires or sells coming along to demonstrate their latest products.

"White Light's aim has always been to offer the widest possible range of products, to allow us to help our customers choose the option that is best for them," comments White Light's Bryan Raven. "This meant that, unlike most of the trade shows, the many visitors to our Open Day could actually make side-by-side, hands-on comparisons between, for example, ETC's Emphasis, the Strand range, the Hog 3, the GrandMA, the Compulite Vector, and Martin's Maxxyz lighting controller."

Companies represented covered a full range of products from followspots (the first UK appearance of the new Robert Juliat Manon) and large-format slide and video projection to stage automation, with Stage Technologies flying a champagne bottle through the warehouse. Entertainment included music from the South London Jazz Orchestra as well as food, drink, and chat.

Visitors included staff from the Royal Opera House, Royal National Theatre, Royal Court, most of the West End, the BBC, GMTV, Techplan, TMB, and VLPS, students and staff from many of the drama colleges plus many lighting designers, electricians, production managers, stage managers, and theatre consultants. The festivities went on well into the evening as the day went from a trade show into a farewell party for White Light's long-serving hire director, Mike Crossman; the Open Day was his last appearance for White Light before setting off on an 18-month round-the-world trip.

Strong winds meant that the hot-air balloon wasn't able to fly for most of the day, though a lucky few, including White Light's managing director John Simpson, did get to see White Light and its environs from the air. The balloon flights had been intended to raise funds for Light Relief; thanks to contributions from the manufacturers who exhibited at the Open Day, the charity will still benefit from the event.

Those who missed the Open Day are invited to visit White Light at any time. The latest news can also be found on the White Light website. Click here to see more pictures of the Open Day.