Before the true scope of COVID-19 was understood, BFBS Live Events (formerly CSE) took a stellar cast to entertain British military personnel and their families posted to The Falklands Islands.
The impact of the January shows saw a huge surge of morale across Mount Pleasant Complex and, for the many who have since had their tours extended due to the worldwide Coronavirus pandemic, it was a little boost before the world changed.
The professionally produced shows included performances from two television personalities – 'Britain’s Got Talent' winner magician LCpl Richard Jones and 'X Factor' finalist Kevin Davy White.
Flying acts and sound equipment halfway around the world is no mean feat. It took six months of vigorous planning to navigate the various logistical challenges and ensure the 10-day tour went ahead.
BFBS Live Events received the initial request for entertainment in the Falkland's as a mechanism to promote espirit de corps, group cohesion, and raise morale across the military base. It was also important for accompanying families of deployed serving personnel to benefit.
Live entertainment is generally inaccessible to British forces in the Falklands, most of whom are on a minimum six-month tour
There is some provision in the capital, Port Stanley, and for most of the families (who are posted for at least 12-months) opportunities for access are limited, as are opportunities to return home to the UK.
Squadron Leader Greg Kevan was involved with much of the planning, during which he reflected on the importance of live entertainment from BFBS Live Events in this location saying:
“Live entertainment will contribute to the general welfare package that is delivered to personnel but provide a key ingredient that is missing from that package.
“The Falkland Islands are extremely remote and isolated in their nature, impacting on all the population, both civilian and military.
"However, the unique nature that service families have to overcome is their own isolated nature when deployed alongside their serving partners.
"A single town which itself is 38 miles from the unit results in a sense of isolation that most have not experienced prior.
"This event will provide not only entertainment but focus.”
Four sell-out evening shows were held on base in the 'Gull and Penguin Theatre', where Richard Jones and Kevin Davy White were joined on stage by compere Jarred Christmas who has appeared on programmes like Mock The Week and Never Mind The Buzzcocks, high energy covers band 'Boomin' and the BFBS Dancers.
The versatile cast also delivered two bespoke day events to dependents.
The first was a professional dance workshop for forces children at Mount Pleasant School. The school has around 40 children on roll, who were all invited to attend the workshop, hosted by Jarred Christmas who is no stranger to performing to children as he was the Joke Master in the CBBC show 'The Joke Machine'.
The workshops were led by the BFBS Dancers who put the kids through their paces with fun warmups, before teaching them a simplified routine to one of the numbers performed in the main show. The children then had the chance to perform the routine on stage complete with professional sound and lighting.
There was also a family matinee show which proved very popular. The format was tweaked to suit the family audience and once the dancing stopped the kids were queuing to get autographs from Richard Jones and Kevin Davy White.
Sqn Ldr Greg Kevan explained why the matinee was important:
“A matinee show further enables those with children to have a highlight which is often missing due to the isolated nature of the island and the distance from friends and their wider members of the family.”
The cast and crew were treated to an insight of forces life as part of the tour. They took a military flight travelling 8,000 miles from RAF Brize Norton to Mount Pleasant Airfield, slept on base in military accommodation and ate in the Officers Mess.
During the day, they also visited various sections on base to learn about the work done in the Falklands.
Group Captain Rupert Joel, Base Commander said:
"With over 1000 of our personnel and families attending the shows it has had a real positive impact across the Base.
"We would like to thank BFBS Live Events for the combined funding and services which enabled such a fantastic event to take place. Aside from the shows, Base personnel really enjoyed meeting the cast during visits around the Base"
NEED HELP WITH AN EVENT OR ENTERTAINMENT?
As a not-for-profit organisation, any surplus we make from our commercial projects goes directly into our Beneficiary Fund, which aims to improve morale and welfare of British Armed Forces personnel and their families through a variety of event and entertainment solutions.
If you are in the military or are part of the wider military community and have a welfare requirement contact us for more information about the BFBS Beneficiary Fund and/or an application form.