Founded 1876

Northamptonshire Natural History Society

Mike Gibson
CT Sampson

Sunday 26 September 2010

NNHS at the
BBC TV Live "n" Deadly roadshow

Write-up by Paul Hayes

Live 'n' Deadly! (photo: Paul Hayes)

Well, I have the wife to blame for this! Radio Northampton were asking for a local organisation to volunteer to appear as a partner at the Live "n" Deadly event on Sunday, 26th September (36 hours away). She had put the NNHS forward! Given my location, up a step ladder in the middle of Marlow library at the time, my reply was limited to "WHAT".

Setting up (photo: Paul Hayes)

Live "n" Deadly is a TV programme for kids starring Steve Backshall on CBBC and BBC2. They transmit a show on Saturday, then follow that up with a free event in a nearby town on the Sunday. What they didn't say is attendance is usually 10-15,000 people, and we would have to be on site 7.30am to 5.00pm on the Sunday.

The display area (photo: Paul Hayes)

Back to Friday - HELP. 36 hours to go, empty stand and reams of official paperwork to fill in. The programme's theme is dangerous animals. Who else would be available? Idea, dangerous does not mean big. So Microscopy's John, Patricia and Mike are available to help, relief. Lots of phone calls, outline arrangements made. Spent all day Saturday printing extra programmes and advertising paperwork, the rest of the family happily (or reluctantly) folding programmes all day. Just interrupted by trips to the garden centre for insectivorous plants and to the rooms for display boards etc. Eventually we finished preparing at 11.00pm filling the large display boards by security light on the patio.

Discussing the microscopes (photo: Paul Hayes)

Sunday - the event. Arrived on site 7.30am. Our fellow "partners", Sam's Species (reptile rescue) and the RSPB were also just arriving. Then the BBC official meetings; health and safety, child protection, the purpose of the day (children to have a good time) etc. Also bear in mind it was now 8.30am, and there were at least 100 members of the public queuing up already. We were all finally issued with bright yellow hoodies with BBC logos front and back, ID tags and bottles of water.

Ladies talking tactics (photo: Paul Hayes)

John, Patricia and Mike had prepared and brought lots of samples of garden bugs, pond life and other (small) ferocious things. We ended up with two bays. In one we put the display boards with pictures on, with a small table in front of it with a laptop displaying images, brochures and programmes. In the other bay we had a long table, on which we put six microscopes, each with lighting and a different type of sample, ranging from spiders, earwigs, millipedes, to fossils the size of sand grains, a dissected owl pellet, and finally on a standard microscope, a fly's head. We also had insectivorous plants, pictures of wolves, insects and other beasts. John, Mike and Paul were behind the stall, describing the displays to the children, with Patricia and Tanya accosting the parents with NNHS programmes. All the BBC staff were extremely helpful.

Elizabeth on patrol (photo: Paul Hayes)

By the 10am start time, the queue for the main attraction was one kilometre long, yep one kilometre. The queue for our "partner" attraction was between one to two hours long all day, the estimated attendance for the day was 14,000 people.

Steve and support on stage (photo: Paul Hayes)

It's hard work manning the stalls, the only trouble is you can't go out for a rest as you get accosted by everybody as soon as you walk out the door; where are the toilets, where do I put my pram, etc. I think it had something to do with the bright yellow BBC hoodies and ID passes. It was simpler just to hide behind the display boards for a breather. My girls, Elizabeth and Katherine also worked hard all day, making up activity packs, handing paperwork out, policing the exit door, and other assorted helpful jobs. They were rewarded with a picture taken with Steve at the end of the day.

Some of Sam's snakes won't let go! (photo: Paul Hayes)

People were interested in our displays, with the microscopes taking very heavy punishment. The plants certainly did not know what had hit them with the prods from thousands of tiny fingers. The microscopes were the ones which the society bought for publicity purposes, and for members to borrow if they wished, along with two of my own.

The site during a rare quiet period (photo: Paul Hayes)

We have hopefully put the name of the NNHS into the minds of thousands of Northamptonshire families (as well as those who came from longer distances like Kent, Suffolk, Lincolnshire!), after seeing what we do, and er, being persuaded to take a programme by the ladies. We left at 5.15pm & dropped the kit off at the rooms and then home for some tea, a drink & a major collapse!

Elizabeth and Katherine get thanked by Steve (photo: Paul Hayes)

It was good fun, but if we do anything like this again I want more than 36 hours notice!

Paul Hayes,
NNHS Publicity Officer.

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29 September 2010 (v 1)