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State of the Nation

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#1 Richard H

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 11:31 AM

Good morning everyone - I trust you all had a safe, enjoyable, and successful bonfire season. Some of you were probably fortunate to enjoy setting off some fireworks in the garden - I and I imagine a good number of you were out and about entertaining thousands of people firing professional displays all week.

We had our most recent 'management meeting' / voice conference call last Wednesday - and there is one topic we feel that needs immediate attention: What is the current state of the UKPS and what should its point be?

I, and the other members of the board are agreed that we must continue to offer and actively encourage opportunities for training, personal / professional continuing development, and advise on routes into the industry for those seeking to follow an interest or even a career in the pyrotechnics industries. It cannot be denied that, we, as the UKPS have not achieved what perhaps many of you would like to see: A permanent, tangible facility for usage by the membership to conduct research and possibly exploit commercial opportunities. Recent discussions have not gone unnoticed by the UKPS, it we felt it important to make an announcement.

To go back to my point about 'What is the current state of the UKPS'. Our articles set out our purpose:

To preserve the heritage, science, history and art of British fireworks manufacture

You will all be familiar with the Amberley project - despite a good deal of effort, we haven't realised the plans, and there needs to be significant investment of funding through donations, sponsorship, and also man power. Without these, the project won't go ahead.

To promote and encourage pyrotechnics as a practical subject and science

We believe there is a good deal of interest in pyrotechnics - and increasing use of fireworks at major events shows this. We are frequently contacted by the media to provide commentary and over recent months our members have made several TV appearances.

To promote the safe and responsible storage and use of fireworks by members of the general public

All pro-firework bodies, trade associations and such would encourage this - us included. The leaflets produced by UKPS have found their ways into several specialist retailers - and we spend time talking with the public at events.

To amass an archive of literature relating to many aspects of pyrotechnics

We continue to accept historical items, articles etc - although it is not clear how these will be safeguarded well into the future.

To clarify the laws relating to the manufacture and storage of explosives for our membership.

I think we are making very good progress on this one. The work done by Wayne Robshaw and several of us, with much constructive input from Danny has not gone unnoticed by HSE - we still await outcomes of this process.

To establish the society as the liaising body with the HSE and other regulatory agencies in relation to the subject of firework construction by enthusiasts

We have made a good start on this through our input into the MSER ELR process with HSE and other bodies involved. I believe there is a lot more we could do and this needs further discussion with our membership.

To support the UK fireworks industry as a whole

While the display side is well covered by the BPA, and retail by the BFA - anything we can do to spread positive messages and liaise with the trade, public etc can only be a good thing.

To represent the general public in legislatory matters relating to fireworks

We are well placed as an organisation to make representations in response to specific concerns. This must continue.

When you look at the UKPS, compared to the likes of the PGI in the US, we are a tiny organisation, representing a minority interest. Our greatest problems are a lack of funding, and a lack of man power. Without the time of our members, or money - we are limited in what we can do. All of our activities require both. From organising events, attending public displays (firework champions events), organising meetings, publicity materials - the list is endless. Without the input of literally a handful of people, the current UKPS would grind to a halt overnight.

Our articles state that, every two years, we shall hold an election to appoint the principal officers of the society. Since 2006, I have held the position of Chair. 2012 is an election year and this means we will be writing to each of our full members to provide them the opportunity to stand for election as a principal or executive officer (Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, Treasurer.)

We need more people to actively contribute and engage in the running of the UKPS. With this in mind it is my feeling that a new Chairman should be appointed in 2012, and that person will take the UKPS forwards as an organisation, and through their leadership, and with support of myself and the board and memebership, we will start to achieve the things our membership want. I strongly believe that a new chair would be a welcome change - I have held the position since 2006 - and I think this is largely because no-one else wanted to stand in previous years. I have decided I will not be standing for election in 2012 but would be pleased to continue to be involved heavily with the UKPS in a non-executive capacity.

Essentially the board feels it is vital that we must encourage new blood - and it is our hope that the UKPS will develop as an organisation.

I and the other board members remain fully committed to our aims and objectives - we are determined to see the ELR process through. What happens next is down to you all - our members.

I thank you all for reading this rather lengthy post and look forward to supporting our society in the years to come - so over to you!

We will be formally contacting all members to outline the process of elections soon. I encourage all of you to get involved and the make the UKPS - it is your society - you all have an equal responsibility to make it a successful organisation. What you get out is what you put in.

I suggest we use this thread as a starting point for you all to give your own thoughts, opinions etc.

#2 martyn


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Posted 14 November 2011 - 02:55 PM

Hello All.
I'd like to start by thanking Richard and the other half dozen or so members that I am aware of, who put considerable time and effort and not to mention money into ensuring the society runs as well as it does.
I must admit that I'd be slightly concerned if the whole board (or whatever you call yourselves) were to change, I really do feel that we are in really safe and competent hands at the moment.
I know at least two of the shakers and movers are in the process of time demanding changes in their lives at the moment (Gareth and Phil) and for all I know so are others.
One of my gripes in the past has been the lack of communication from the top, to the members, but this has been addressed now and I'm sure we all do now feel slightly more 'in the loop'.
You asked for our views Richard, my view is that you should keep a finger or two on the reins (and you should set links to open in new windows!!! ;-) )
I must admit that I view this society as yours, rather than ours, that's probably not how it's meant to be but it's how it feels to me, but I'm happy with that and proud to be a member.
I also feel that Amberley is Phils baby and whilst not particularly interested in it myself I think it's a good project for the society to support.
I'd love to be able to give something back to the society but sadly I have no management experience so would not be an appropriate person to be involved in the running of the society.
I do however have a reasonable amount of spare time and (still) a reasonable amount of grunt, so I'd be up for helping where required with routine and menial tasks.
There have been threads recently about possible shared society labs / workshops. Personally this is not something I would be interested in, it would be far too restrictive and inconvenient for me (yes I realise legal expolosive manufacture is all restrictions and inconveniences).
I'm firmly in the head below the parapet camp, I have this fantasy that when I retire to Scotland I will try and set up some small legit hobby setup - that's if the govt doesn't completely balls up my pension.
Can I ask, out of interest, how many members are we?
More meet ups / group training sessions would be nice, but again, distance, apathy, privacy, and the simple fact that what we might want to do is illegal, make meets difficult.
I'm starting to wander so in summary, my views; I'd be sad to see any of the current 'board' step down but I realise they have lives outside ukps, new blood is a good idea but please elect / appoint carefully.
crack on with the e.l.r. / 100g mistake stuff - this to me is the most important work of the society at the moment, keep the members up to date with all progress.
The next most useful thing the society could do is facilitate training. Many of us have done Illuminate consult, adr, pyro chemistry courses. Many also have pro seasonal display experience, some even run display companies.
How about a group attempt at IExpE entry exams - mutual support.

Thanks again to all of you

EDIT PS as this concerns society business rather than forum business why not put it in the members forum, people might feel more inclined to talk more openy there.

Edited by martyn, 14 November 2011 - 03:00 PM.

#3 phildunford



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Posted 14 November 2011 - 08:19 PM

Firstly, I would like to put on record my thanks for all the work Rich has done. He is the founder of the UKPS & the only one of the first group still to be involved. I'm sure he will continue to make valuable contributions, but we must respect his decision to take a step back.

I must make it clear that I am not putting myself forward as chair. I think it needs someone with a real vision for the future of the UKPS & at the moment I can't see what that will be. I'm still willing to stand as vice chair if I am wanted. As far as Spark Editorship is concerned, I'm willing to continue with this (and finance & print it) but I must have more support in the way of articles. If you have not guessed, I'm also 'The Green Man' & 'Practicus', which means that I often write more than half of the content!

Christina is willing to continue to do all the admin - as long as I'm still involved with UKPS - obviously if I withdrew completely, she would not continue.

Amberley is looking very shakey. There is much verbal interest but no one is willing to do the mountains of work involved in actually making it happen. We had an offer some months ago of someone to head the fundraising, but this has come to nothing. So, again, I feel we need several people willing to put in a lot of work. Once more, Chris & I will be involved, but we have had a enough of trying to do it on our own. Also our new geograpical location makes visiting the site more awkward. If this can't be resolved in the next few months, it is time to call a halt, rather than let it drag on.

We have a phone conference every two weeks & for the last year, it has been rare for there to be more than 3 or 4 of us ringing in - sometimes only 2. We need an injection of new blood and enthusiasm. All the committee members have their own pressures & I am not in any way criticising, but there must be people there for ideas to come to the surface.

To some extent, we are waiting for the outcome of the ELR - but we have no idea when this happen. If it goes for us, it may well breathe new life into the forum, if it goes against us - what then?

So (I'm afraid I must disagree with Martyn here) it's not Richards or the Committee's society, it's the members society, and we need you to make it work.

Edited by phildunford, 14 November 2011 - 08:28 PM.

Teaching moft plainly, and withall moft exactly, the composing of all manner of fire-works for tryumph and recreation (John Bate 1635)
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#4 exat808


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Posted 14 November 2011 - 09:07 PM

If I may offer a contribution as a non UKPS member.
I joined the forums a year or so ago having seen the underlying enthusiasm and willingness of the contributors to work towards a common goal, namely the redefinition of the current 100g manufacturing restrictiction. I felt at the time of joining that I could contribute to the debates and discussions from my perspective ; and without doubt I think that I have accomplished that. As someone who observes the ebb and flow of the forums and who has had numerous PM discussions with members I am currently (sadly) of the impression that the drive in UKPS is dwindling. I cannot pinpoint a cause - my suggestion is for UKPS to re-evaluate its core aims/intentions - where are you going and what do you want to do when you get there?

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Posted 14 November 2011 - 10:16 PM

maybe management should stay the same but just more staff members to help and give some fresh blood in the ukps, after all when the ukps is ran by very few people you cant all be free at he same time. I would love to get involved with the ukps in a bigger way but no way could i do what the ukps have achieved so far. richard you are a top fellow and you have led the ukps to where we are now, what you need is people to stand by you and take some work load off you and the other staff. By stepping down everything you have done may be for nothing, at least let the members vote and choose before giving up.

i think a lot has changed in the last year alone and each member wants different things from the ukps and the main thing stopping us achieving that goal is money. but that shouldn't put us down because its achievable, with you leading the way..

#6 crystal palace fireworks

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 03:20 AM

Richard, your a top bloke and have always made me feel welcome when ever I ve met you at the AGM`s, it will be sad that you are no longer standing as chairman in 2012, that said, Im glad you are going to continue to contribute to the societiy in a non executive capacity = we need you mate!

I believe the society has come a long way in recent years, and this has not always been recognized or appreciated in the general scheme of things, yes there are issues we need to address or re-evaluate or are on-going (thats normal) and which are sometimes beyond the societies control, but there are also many positives.

Amberley;- Phil D and Chris have done a great job so far, but I feel that the drop-off in interest to help with this project is partly because those that have contributed in the past have not always been recognized by NAME for there efforts or felt appreciated in the wider sense = its very important that individuals names are highlighted/written on our front UKPS page for this and all other projects and not just committee members, this should also extend as a society condition when seeking outside media publicity. this not only massages peoples ego`s, it also gives them a stake in the project (s). = they will feel wanted and will come back for more knowing they can turn around to there friends, family or gran kids and say look I helped build that (here`s the proof).
Also the increase in costs by Amberley to realize this project has had an effect on sustaining interest.

What next for Amberley? - There are possible alternatives as I see it, we could look at putting it on hold for the next 5 years and then come back to it when we have hopefully recruited more members (if amberley allows us to keep the dismantled sheds on site), or we could simplify our project amibitions and save money by looking at building one shed in it original condition (inside or outside) and then create a exhibition/museum in a room next to it in a existing building at say the gun powder mills at waltham abbey if this is feasible, I believe we could achieve this with the money we have already raised, or totally shut down the project and use the money to fund other things (if this is at all possible and with exisitng contributors permission), what do our members want to do? should our members have a vote on this?

How can we get more people to join our society? and what will appeal to them and keep them to consider renewing there membership year after year? - I believe we need to appeal to the casual onlooker and existing members by offering incentives, this could take the form of offering pyrotechnic trips abroad to valencia or malta festivals at discount prices, but also make a profit from non members by selling trips at a higher price, the money raised from non members go`s into the societies kitty for our AGM funding or for pyro shows that we could hold at different existing established festivals around the country = this will give us a greater possibility to increase our membership by virtue of being out there! - then there is the UKPS shop = why do we not give discount prices to ukps members = again where is the incentive to join us?
For the UKPS to survive long term, we have to get our marketing & publicity right and put in the effort to spread the word.

Sparks Magazine - If Phil D is not getting many articles for this publication from its members or others, is this because we are now frightened to publish anything interesting but slightly illegal because of the ongoing ELR process?, no disrespect to Exats808 contribution to our forum (which is a welcome & helpful), but at the same time its having a effect on the lack of articles being submitted, - perhaps the alternative might be to shut down Sparks and use Fireworks Magazine? we could then perhaps do a deal with the publishers for a discount subscription for our members = another financial reason & incentive to join us, and at the same time the society will be seen in better light by the authorities? - this will also perhaps put less demands on Phil D having to come up with stories/articles with its time contraints.

Publicity for our society - The recent TV appearence have been great for UKPS in general, but have they realistically increased visitors to our forum or membership by any considerable amount? - I think we need to link with other organisations web pages and email other organisations to seek permission to send them leaflets, we also could perhaps offer a text message service to remind people of pyro related events, AGM`s, training days, organised trips for say 7 or more days ahead, this could be free to members, but charged to non-members = another avenue to raise money for the society and another reason (incentive) to join us.

Not everyone wants to stand as a UKPS committee member (me included) for various reasons, but that does not mean Im not very appreciative of the current committee efforts = they do a great but demading job, I just hope existing UKPS members become more proactive, no offence intended to anyone.

Edited by crystal palace fireworks, 16 November 2011 - 07:26 AM.

#7 Peret


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Posted 15 November 2011 - 06:07 AM

How can we get more people to join our society? and what will appeal to them and keep them to consider renewing there membership year after year?

I believe there is only one thing that will make the Society relevant, and that is to be a pressure group for, as exat coyly puts it, "the redefinition of the current 100g manufacturing restriction". I know there have been "discussions" about changing the regulations, but I also know - as should you all - that "discussions" are a civil servant's way of keeping things exactly the way they are until the troublemakers give up and go home. Pushing the boundaries and a certain amount of militancy is necessary.

The natural constituency of this Society is people who would like to make fireworks legally. Many of them already practice the art without benefit of law, and there are many more that would jump on board if it were permitted. Putting up a couple of corrugated iron sheds at Ambersley may be important in a historical way, but it neither excites people nor advances the program. It would have been a step forward if Phil's "Any Takers" idea had come off. As I posted in that thread a year ago,

"I don't want to bore people with my (by now) well known opinion, but the only hope for any loosening of the UK manufacturing laws (and continued relevance of UKPS) is to foster an active community of people who want to make their own fireworks, and demonstrate it by taking every opportunity to do so."

It wasn't helpful that the Society's own chairman complained that it would be too far to travel.

#8 Richard H

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 10:52 AM

Thanks for the kind words everyone. First of all - I have no intention of sitting back and stopping my involvement with the UKPS - only that I would like someone with more time and the vision to drive it forwards. In recent times I have become self-employed and now have two businesses to manage - which is a full-time occupation in itself. I would like to make my own contributions to the UKPS - for example we recently provided an opportunity for a forum member to spend a day training with us on a professional display - I'd like to do a lot more of this and feel quite passionate about getting new blood into the pyrotechnics industries. I believe that we need to re-evaluate and if necessary - consolidate our aims, purpose, objectives. However we do this - the fact remains that we need more people to get involved.

While the decision to stand as an official is not one to be taken lightly, and those individuals have legal responsibilities to run the society in a fair and proper manner - I would encourage all of you to consider doing so. It is not difficult or needlessly time-consuming, provided you are supported by the board as I am, and with the support of the membership. If you can spare a few hours a week then you are in a good position to consider standing.

At the next AGM, by which time we should have a new Chairman, I see it as critical that we all as members, decide the purpose of the UKPS and what / why / when / how we can achieve those objectives.

My door is open if anyone has any questions or wants some advice about standing. Provided you are 18 or over and have some drive, vision - go for it.

#9 Richard H

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 05:33 PM

I have pinned this topic so it remains visible to all.

#10 Arthur Brown

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Posted 15 November 2011 - 08:39 PM

If I may offer a contribution as a non UKPS member.
... I felt at the time of joining that I could contribute to the debates and discussions from my perspective ; and without doubt I think that I have accomplished that. ...I am currently (sadly) of the impression that the drive in UKPS is dwindling. I cannot pinpoint a cause -... where are you going and what do you want to do when you get there?

Exat, You have certainly contributed to the debate on the forum, The "drive" on the forum is less apparent as people achieve their aims of access to professional fireworks through training insurance and storage methods rather than home manufacture There are a few pro firers who have grown through the forum and also a few businesses. Also there has been a need to become a self preservation society, where bragging about pyro naughtiness doesn't happen.

SO I think that your presence has brought some quiet maturity to the forum which may preserve it to have a future.

Keep mannequins and watermelons away from fireworks..they always get hurt..

#11 Vic


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Posted 18 November 2011 - 11:02 PM

Well then who is in the running for the bosses job?
Freud. Artists, in this view, are people who may avoid neurosis and perversion by sublimating their impulses in their work.

#12 Arthur Brown

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 11:28 AM

At the moment I think we are waiting for a volunteer. Richard will be a hard act to follow as he has put in a lot of time and effort.

Keep mannequins and watermelons away from fireworks..they always get hurt..

#13 Richard H

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Posted 19 November 2011 - 12:59 PM

You all have my encouragement and support, I promise you that. Each and every member makes up around 1.3% of the current UKPS - but together, everyone achieves more (TEAM!). We will be sending out the procedure and nomination forms. To start getting things done, I'd say we need a group of 10 people to drive the society forward on a day to day basis. The opportunity to stand is one to be grasped. If everyone waits and hopes someone else will sort things out, then we're back to square one. The time to act is now.

#14 Pyromancer


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Posted 30 November 2011 - 06:26 PM

Hi Everyone,

Just thought I'd try and get the ball rolling by tossing my hat into the ring.

If you'll have me, I'd be willing to try and fill Richard's shoes and stand for Chairman of the UKPS, as I believe the organisation is a force for good in both the professional and hobby explosives arenas and it isn't something I want to see die off.

I'm hoping that showing my cards will encourage others to step up to the plate and help keep the UKPS running.


Steve Miller M.I.Exp.E.

#15 Richard H

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Posted 30 November 2011 - 07:22 PM

I was pleased to learn of Steve's intentions to stand and I hope this encourages others to consider doing so - or to consider what they can bring to the UKPS in any capacity. 2012 is going to be an important year for us - it's time to build up some momentum and regroup.

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