Middlebridge 25th Anniversary / Reunion

20th & 21st September 2014

Location: Gatcombe Park

This event has been some four years in the making and was the premier event of our 25th Anniversary year. The culmination of much work between the MESS "Middlebridge Enthusiasts Scimitar Set" and our Royal contacts and boy it was a real learning curve! The great news being that all who attended, thoroughly enjoyed the very friendly atmosphere and camaraderie over the whole weekend.

Here's a brief list of what was required to produce an event of this calibre. A fully lined marquee with lighting and flooring, approved caterers on site all day and both days, tables and chairs for 100 people, a large silent generator, fridge trailer for food and wine, approved road signage, toilet facilities, approved exhibitor passes, trophies, presentation items, two exterior tables with overhead protection, approved banners,the event layout, a huge amount of Health and Safety preparation, public liability insurance, event hire insurance and more...all agreed with our hosts weeks in advance.

Everyone that George and I have spoken to was delighted with the event organisation, layout and structure. I was personally delighted that many of the ladies that attended thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and said that it was not like a typical boring car show. Many people also remarked on how friendly the whole event was with new friendships being forged over the weekend.

For us as organisers, the work started on Tuesday when George, Matt & myself loaded my pick up to the hilt, then hooked up the camper trailer and all of the event paraphernalia including all equipment required to prepare HRH's Middlebridge for the event. After dropping the caravan off we arrived at Gatcombe at approx 09.00hrs. George and Matt did the bulk of work on the car while I was whisked away for a couple of meetings that included agreeing the exact location of the marquee, catering area and toilets prior to them being assembled. I certainly got my hands dirty in the afternoon and was shattered when we finally got home at 22.15 hrs after a 05.20 start!

On Friday we returned to the event site to measure out the approved car display layout starting with the arc and two parallel rows 25metres apart.

The layout and design were agreed in advance to ensure no two cars of the same colour appeared together. Vehicle markers were produced to ensure that all of the vehicles would be parked in their nominated positions, without any confusion. We also marked out the position for the Lola race car, erected the two display tables with their covers, hung up the marquee advertising banners and our specially made event banners.

The wine was now collected and put in the chiller. We then drove around the farm and surrounding roads installing the agreed event direction signs and hey presto, headed back for some well earned Middlebridge Beer and a bite to eat!

Saturday and once again George and I were up very early and on site before 08.00. I must say that this was by far the most stressful part of the whole event. By 08.10 I had to find official event gate entrance stewards to advise and direct people where to go and park. Matt was "out of the blue" handed the keys to HRH's Middlebridge and was then whisked away to the house to collect it, bring it to the event and look after the car. (he was quite shocked!) I had to tow the race car trailer to its location and assist with the unloading. George was busy setting up the outside display tables, cake, beer and ensuring that all of the cars were parked in position.

We had a succession of regular and very thorough Health & Safety inspections throughout the day and with lunchtime approaching, out of the blue HRH the Princess Royal just strolled over to us for what I can only describe as a chinwag and a good laugh. I was very surprised at just how relaxed and talkative the Princess was and her enthusiasm for the marque was very clear from the banter. Some of the banter was about the preparing of her car for the event and how 'high speed' increases the amount of stone chips to the front of the cars. Need I say more? ;o). As soon as HRH the Princess Royal departed people started to head to the marquee for their meal and I must say I thought the food was very good value indeed as was the wine "or so I'm told" he he....

After lunch I took a turn around the event with George and one thing that struck us both very quickly was just how friendly everyone was with much talking, banter and laughter to be heard as we walked around.

At 17.50 it was close of play and time to pack everything away, wine, cake, the race car and the Royal car before leaving the site. Both George and I remarked that we were totally shattered. George 'n' Mags had a few drinks, something to eat and off to bed, I took Matt & Nina to a highly recommended curry house and on returning to the campsite had a drink and straight to bed!

Sunday- "The Finale". Once again my alarm sounded at 05.45 and after a quick cuppa, the showers beckoned. It was so early I once again beat the cockerels morning chorus! On site we organised ourselves quickly getting the gate rota in hand. I took Matt to get HRH's Middlebridge, and next on the agenda was to tow the racing car to its location and unload.

George had now readied the display area and hey presto we were all set for a great day! We were not disappointed as the sun came out (as booked) and even though I say it myself I thought that the whole display looked fantastic. We had a constant stream of visitors to the display area with many people commenting on the Middlebridge Scimitar jump No 18 which was set up in the main event area as part of the Gatcombe International Horse Trials Event.

Many of our VIP Guests were booked to visit the event on the Sunday and we were not disappointed. First to arrive was Mr John McCauley Ex MD Middlebridge shortly followed by Dennis Nursey Ex CEO and Khoji Nakauchi himself (Mr Middlebridge). Geert Van Hout from Holland who run the Dutch Middlebridge Scimitar Dealership also arrived. Unfortunately Tom Karen could not make the event but he did make some wicked leaflets to celebrate the event which were handed out. One is in the hands of RSSOC Chairman, Kevin Cooper with instructions from Tom himself should he require further copies for the Club.

Will Anderson who has helped a lot behind the scenes brought down from the Highlands some lovely boxed commemorative miniature bottles of 25 year old Glenfarclas Single Malt which were presented to Khoji, Dennis Nursey, John McCauley and Sir Timothy Laurence. Tom Karen has now received his boxed Scotch and his VIP pass and has added them to his memorabilia collection. Will also handed out numbered bottles of Scotch corresponding to the car's chassis numbers.

HRH very kindly cut our Anniversary cake with the Scimitar Sword 'amid much humour and banter' this was then followed by her presenting awards to the "Concours" winners, Phil & Caroline Wright, "Best in Show", Steve & Helen Robinson and "Visitors Choice", John and Karen Nutting. She then spoke to the crowds prior to me presenting her with a set of specially engraved anniversary tread plates for her car (Middlebridge No 5) thet had also been signed by all of the owners, staff and directors at the event. We also treated HRH's husband Sir Timothy Lawrence to one of the 25 year old boxed Anniversary miniatures. HRH and her husband then talked with many people and spent a lot more time than we could have expected or even hoped for. She certainly seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself in our informal surroundings much to our delight.

It was also the first time in 25 years that Khoji, Dennis Nursey and John McCaulay had met and they certainly had much to talk about both between themselves and with the many owners and enthusiasts that were in attendance. They were very surprised and pleased to receive commemorative Middlebridge trophies as a thank you from the MESS.

Another of the event highlights and one which drew much admiration was James Wilkinson's Lola racing car which has been restored to its condition as driven by Damon Hill, 1996 F1 World Champion. We also had emails read out in the marquee from Damon Hill, Mark Blundell and David Brabham and we distributed some commemorative leaflets that were specially produced by Tom Karen for the event.

James is looking forward to completion of the professional preparation of the Lola car next year and is hoping to be entering into some of the very serious classic racing events during 2016, both in the UK & Europe. I for one, look forward to seeing how James gets on and I'm sure we will be getting regular updates from him to keep us in the loop.

George's beer sold like hot cakes "well it did on the campsite" I thought it was a great brew and very tasty too. ;o) The fact is I was forced to sample it quite a few times to be sure...

Rory Cullen had his rare Middlebridge models on display and he not only thoroughly enjoyed the whole event he also sold quite a few models to boot. For the Saturday only we had an up & coming artist with us and several people have now approached her with a view to commissioning paintings and drawings. I must say her portfolio looked great to me.

We owe a BIG thank you to is Andy Luckman and his wife Denise who at the last minute flew out to Geneva and shared the driving in order to bring MB 29 to the event. We were let down by the magazine that intended to do an article entitled "Geneva to Gatcombe in a Middlebridge" not only did Andy bring the car to the event he had had it prepared and is currently doing some work on her prior to her return to Geneva. (Thank you Andy).

Finally may I take this opportunity to personally thank all of the owners & enthusiasts that brought their cars to the event. It was you that brought this unique event to fruition in the first place and we must say the atmosphere and camaraderie at the event was fantastic and a joy to be part of. Both George and I thought that the relaxed atmosphere, banter and laughter was great and we know that many people made new friends over the weekend. I would like to say sorry to anyone I did not get the chance to speak with but I was kept very busy with last minute programme changes, revised itineraries to write up and dealing with last minute unexpected costs. So much so, I didn't even get a chance to clean my own car!

Special Thanks to - HRH The Princess Royal, Sir Timothy Lawrence, Khoji Nakauchi, Dennis Nursey, John McCauley, Geert van Hout, John Foden, Tom Karen, Martin North, James Wilkinson, Will Anderson, Rory Cullen, Andy and Denise Luckman, Dr Dan Mitchell, Beckie and Matt Gaughran.


Mick Gaughran

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Gatcombe Park 2014 Video footage

Gatcombe Park 2014

Gatcombe Park 2014

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