Matthew helps launch Hull UK City of Culture 2017

Matthew took part in a huge choreographed firework display to launch Hull UK City of Culture 2017.

Three and a half tonnes of fireworks were fired from two barges on The Humber in twelve minutes. It was a successful show which touched the imaginations of thousands of people.

The show was designed and operated by Titanium Fireworks Ltd, a provider of high-end large scale firework displays in the UK, including the London New Year fireworks on The Thames and Edinburgh’s Hogmanay celebrations.

Titanium Fireworks directors approached Matthew during Summer 2016 about working on the Hull show and, in particular, using his skills to engage audiences with some of the behind-the-scenes operations.

It’s the first time that a professional firework display of this scale has had such specialist coverage in the UK.

With his highly unique combination of TV presenting and professional fireworks experience, Matthew produced exclusive behind-the-scenes footage of the show preparations. He talked about safety considerations, featured fellow team members and explained some of the technical aspects of the show.

Matthew says “The feedback, particularly via social media, has been tremendous. I think we captured the spirit of this special year for Hull.”

His content was shared by official Hull 2017 and Titanium Fireworks Ltd PR teams, helping to increase audience engagement in the lead up to the launch of Hull 2017.

Matthew’s passion for live broadcast shone through too, when he fronted a number of Facebook live videos as the barges moved into position on The Humber.

Matthew Tosh - fireworks in HullUnsurprisingly, his press and media skills were in demand; escorting TV news crews on site and providing interviews on behalf of Titanium Fireworks for BBC Look North regional news, BBC Radio Humberside and local newspapers.

In Matthew’s own words, filming on a fireworks rig of this magnitude isn’t straightforward. “Aside from the obvious safety issues, there are often many commercial, event security and creative sensitivities. What’s more, you don’t want to give too much away and spoil the show!”

But as Matthew consistently demonstrates, he finds that balance perfectly, using his enthusiasm, industry knowledge and occasionally witty style to ensure that the audience is engaged.

Between filming and editing, Matthew was able to assist with shell-loading and got thoroughly mucky on the de-rig.

Follow Matthew’s work on Facebook and Twitter.

Something in the air

There’s definitely a chill in the air. I’ve felt it since the weekend. That sharp edge to the breeze, despite the sun beaming down and illuminating the changing tree canopies.

Autumn is here, accompanied by the annual grumbling of several of my family and friends about the nights drawing in and winter approaching. The familiar whirring of the central heating pump and doors closing to keep the heat in.
Autumn park trees
For me, however, there is a sense of anticipation and excitement. It is a feeling that I get every year. The sight of the leaves turning golden and falling to the floor, reflecting the autumn sun. The earlier setting of the sun and the cool air chilling my nostrils. It means one thing to me: Bonfire Night is approaching.

This dates back to the days when my father used to take me to see the annual bonfire and firework display at the Miners’ Welfare park in Bedworth. We’d trudge through the leaves amongst the volunteers shaking their charity buckets. Once inside, I’d be the annoying five year old trying to sit on his shoulders to see over the crowds, or insist that we work our way to the front by the safety barrier. He’d remind me that the fireworks would be going up into the air and that I’d be able to see wherever we stood, but this fell on deaf ears.

Come on!

Firework display rig in SouthportI didn’t want to know what was going on in the air. I wanted to know how they got in the air and who was letting them off. I wanted to be the first to arrive to give me plenty of time to look at the firing site. What did the rig look like and could I guess what was going to happen? Yes, I know, total child geekorama and I am not ashamed to admit it.

My curiosity was fed further by being allowed to walk onto the firing site shortly after firing to have a look at the smouldering remains of the fireworks. Everyone did it back then. The idea of a child doing that now fills me with horror, having witnessed hang-fires (the delayed firing of a smouldering firework) and ground units exploding.

Little did I know that, years later, I would be one of those people working to make a display happen. What’s more, I would never have dreamed that I would be called in at short notice to work on a competition-winning firework display.

I guess it goes to show that an early interest in a subject as a child, no matter how niche or mainstream, could pave the way for something much bigger later in life. That’s why I believe in stimulating curiosity in children’s minds and allowing them to explore ideas. Discovery and learning then follow, almost self-driven, and who knows where it will take them? I’m still on my journey and am enjoying the ride.

And so my shameless, childlike excitement continues to emerge annually, triggered by those changing colours of autumn. I sincerely hope that I never grow out of this.

A quick word of thanks and congratulations should go to Steve Martin and crew at SMArt Pyrotechnics. It was great working with you all!