Cunard tasked FTF Worldwide Event Management to create a 10th birthday celebration in Southampton for a very special lady – Queen Mary 2.
It was a very early start for the FTF team – months of planning came to life when sister ships Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth sailed into Southampton to arrive minutes before Queen Mary 2 appeared majestically alongside just before 6am.
Immediately the three were together in port, an impressive rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ was played on ships’ whistles. Heard by passengers and crew on all three ships, plus the attending press and locals, the sound was suitably deafening.
A glorious day followed, filled with celebrations on all three ships and culminating in a spectacular firework display, planned in minute detail by Fully Fused Fireworks.
"It was carefully orchestrated to begin precisely at 10pm and last 10 minutes," said FTF Managing Director Cliff Stonestreet. "We used the music from the Queen Mary 2's naming ceremony and used exactly 10,000 separate effects. It was a clear night and sound and light travelled brilliantly across the water to the three ships.
"We also organised helicopters and HD filming in Lisbon and Southampton used by many TV networks and newspapers as the ships left Lisbon and arrived in Southampton. This didn't just happen and needed a great deal of work with the Portuguese and UK aviation authorities as both locations were on the approach to the airport and the amazing shots at sea outside Lisbon were in Military airspace."
The FTF team travelled to the quayside in Southampton on 9 May by car, van, truck, coach, minibus, train, helicopter and even aboard the legendary ship, the birthday girl herself.
FTF prepared tonnes of equipment and fireworks and moved it all down to Southampton for the event. A mobile editing suite for the aerial photography from helicopter was specially chartered for the event, filming the ships from Hythe.
“We were proud to have been asked by FTF Worldwide to supply all the audio elements for the event,” said Martin Knight, Director of Professional Audio Company.
“We helped the ships whistle ‘Happy Birthday’ through to the music mix and projection of the fireworks music using sound systems on the quay side. We also provided the FM radio broadcast to Queen Mary 2. It was a long and hard day for all the crew but it's certainly one we will remember for a long time."
While events began in Southampton, the bands of the Welsh Guards and Royal Scots Guards were gathering their instruments and uniforms in London and preparing for the journey. Each band performed on board the ships and gave rousing send-offs with quayside marching concerts as the evening turned to night. Cunard was delighted to host HRH the Duke of Edinburgh onto Queen Mary 2 and all the ships' guests were entertained throughout the day.
The event itself took nine months of planning, with more than 40 of the FTF team in town on the day to complete that careful planning. Event Co-ordinator Tracey de Vere White said: “It was a major operation to ensure everything went without a hitch, from the early start to the spectacular firework display as the ships set sail.
“Our logistics and careful preparation meant everything went smoothly, with entertainment throughout the day from just before 6am until the display finished at ten past ten – all to celebrate Queen Mary 2’s tenth birthday!”