Early one Friday morning in March 2017, a coach load of excited members from Mayflower’s Junior and A guard, together with their staff and parents departed from Billericay for the port of Harwich. It was a challenge getting the equipment, costumes and luggage on board but the amazing team managed it and heavily loaded, wagons rolled.
We made great time to the port and were soon on board for our 7 hour crossing. One would have thought that our youngsters (aged 7-17) might have got bored, but oh no….not this lot! There were films to watch in the cinema, card games in groups, crafts laid on by our most creative staff, and even stretching and warm ups which raised an eye brow or two from other passengers! Eventually we made it to our hotel and it was an early night in preparation for the long days competition on the Saturday.
The group were up and out early. Only slightly delayed by a lift that had a mind of its own! Only two of our members had ever performed at the venue for the European WGI regional competition before, and so on arrival there was excitement in the air as everyone realised what a fantastic arena it was. Our management as always had exceeded themselves by hiring a rehearsal hall opposite to enable both Mayflower groups to shake off their travel stiffness and whip themselves into show mood.
A tight schedule dictated that we all arrived in the right place at the right time and it was a relief to see Mayflower Juniors take to the floor with their ‘Lost Boys’ show. The crowd were intrigued by the trees and slightly dim fire place (electronics were not allowed in this particular event).
Being in a venue the size we were, there was an undercurrent of ‘ I wonder if they will freeze when they get out there’. But oh no – our Juniors embraced their moment and performed their best show yet. What a time to do it! The group placed first in prelims and went on to finish 2nd in the finals.
As the day progressed, attention turned to our A guard. Reigning British A class champions, the pressure was on to prove themselves. With a few novice floor crew and an eclectic mix of staff for the occasion, the group took the audience to their ‘coffee shop’;. A show designed to embrace the warmth of a coffee shared with friends. How the connections we make in person can change the course of our day. With a member missing and being drawn as first on in the class, the guard took to the floor with their best performance of the year so far. On this occasion it was not quite enough to make the evening’s finals. In fairness, the result was a true test of the member’s and organisation’s character. However they re-grouped, held their heads high and were determined to perfect their show in preparation for the UK Championships in April.
What an exciting time for all and an amazing experience that will serve the members well as they progress in their colourguard careers.
Returning to the hotel, and realising the communal areas of the hotel were being refurbished our ever resourceful members took to a quiet corridor for some well deserved down time – with rather a lot of singing and selfies!
The next day
Sunday morning and no time for a lay in – Our chairperson and tour guide for the day (Ron) ran a tight ship getting us on the road and headed for Bruges for a dose of culture! Essentially we just about had time for a few classic photos, compulsory purchase of chocolates, and a bite to eat. Nevertheless, a great memory shared for the group.
The rest of the return journey went smoothly and we returned right on schedule, all somewhat exhausted, but so much richer for the experience. As always, members, staff and parents flew the Mayflower flag with pride and we look forward to returning to the WGI regional in the future.
Sharon Smith (A Guard staff)
Images by M.Neilson and Winterguards in Nederlands