Less than 24 hours to ‘Go for Launch’, and #StormDoris leaves her calling card at Gwrych Castle, as she sweeps through! Oh mercy!
As we arrived at Gwrych on the afternoon of the 23rd, in order to dress the marquees and undertake last minute preparations for the following day, the sight which greeted us was grim. With both marquees taken out by Doris, one of which was completely down and destroyed beyond repair, we reviewed the shocking detritus and collected our thoughts. The imperative was the purchase and collection of a replacement marquee; together with the necessity of a very early morning start on Launch Day following, in order to restore the tattered remains of our hopes and dreams. Could we do it?
0745 hours on Launch Day, and the early morning skies over Glorious Gwrych as we arrived, hinted a delicious promise of a benign ‘weather window’ for the day ahead in order to herald the return of the Dragon. Fingers were crossed and eyes turned to the skies!
Clearing the walkways and battlements of fallen branches and masonry brought down in the storm, was the first order of the day. The countdown was underway. Lloyd, the Castle Cat, looked on with animus curiosity, at his new visitors.
Soon all hands were on deck and the marquees began a frenzied journey toward resplendent restoration. The skies were beginning to break blue and wide above us: the sun beginning to break through with a promise of an appearance: as foretold by Dr. Mark Baker – the Head of the Gwrych Castle Trust The previous evening, he had assured us that for the exact duration of the Launch, the sun was forecast to be in residence in the skies above Gwrych. Would the forecast hold?
So the Sound and Lighting Team: James Barber, Olli Bentley & Rachel Hall, were finally now ready to begin setting up the stage, and install the sound system necessary for the hour-long live broadcast across North Wales’ Local Radio Stations, pre-arranged to go out from 1 p.m. in a unique link-up which had never been done before.
The cast of Recovery Ambassadors were holding last minute play rehearsals in Winifred Bamford-Hesketh’s Reading Room; tables and chairs began to appear in the newly-erected marquees from all four corners of the Castle gardens; the DragonTale flags were flying proudly from the flagpoles; the bunting and balloons had arrived; last minute checks were being made; the Piper had arrived, the guests were beginning to walk up towards the castle. The stage was now set! The hour was upon us!
The Day of the Dragon’s Master of Ceremonies, James Brown, took the opportunity to test out suitable positions for the drone coverage of the imminent reveal of the DragonTale Van with Daryl McCarthy’s superb design. From the flags flying high over Gwrych, to the back of Ambassadors’ clipboards: Daryl’s logo was evident everywhere you looked, on this, the #DayoftheDragon.
With the Master of Ceremonies opening the proceedings at 1p.m. in a welcome to all, everyone was duly summoned to the garden terrace to overlook the battlements to witness the DragonTale Van’s grand entrance, with Daryl’s Dragon wrap exterior and Dead Nice Campers’ bespoke interior, as it approached the castle, below the viewing platform.
Then, at 1.30 p.m. prompt, the Live Broadcast began. The feed being handled by Point FM, the local radio station for Rhyl; and broadcast across other radio stations in North Wales. James began by introducing the first of our live acts: Before the Storm, Unplugged – Carl and Lee from Llangollen. Then it was the turn of Fear Theatre, with Chris Harris’s play, ‘Ghastly Goings-On at Gwrych’, being performed by the original Recovery Radio group from Champions House – now Ambassadors for DragonTale. The broadcast continued without a hitch and featured performances from vocialist Sophie Francis from Glyndwr University, Andrew Welsh from Tudno FM and concluded with a rousing rendition of ‘We Will Rock You’ on the bagpipes.
After the broadcast, presentations were made and thanks given to all the wonderful DragonTale Ambassadors, who were sparkling in their purple sweatshirts. These Ambassadors are the foundation stone of DragonTale and its ethos. Then the spotlight turned on Daryl, individually, to give due recognition for his incredible contribution in both capturing and reflecting the inherent identity of DragonTale Productions through his concept, design, and production of the DragonTale logo. Concluding with thanks to all concerned – in particular the Big Lottery Wales – Charlie invited all in attendance to share in the DragonTale Journey ahead. #whatsyourstory will be asked all across North Wales in the coming months ahead as Team DragonTale visits every corner of the principality in the Dragon’s Quest to secure the biggest storytelling archive for the benefit of future generations.
Our thanks to: Dr. Mark Baker and his team at the Gwrych Castle Trust, for their hospitality and kindness. Our thanks also to everyone for attending; the Big Lottery Wales; AVOW, Wrexham; Glyndwr University; Cais; Champions House; all benefactors to prizes and presentations; all performers and providers of the event. Our thanks is also due to Jason Samuels for permission to use many of his superb photographs.
And mostly, our thanks to all our wonderful Ambassadors, whose courageous continuing journey of Recovery inspires us daily.