birdfairProviding production services on a greenfield site can be tricky at the best of times. The annual ‘British Birdwatching Fair’ takes this to another level!

Never a company to shy away from such a challenge, the power, lighting and audio delivery for the Birdfair is something that Pearce Hire has been engaged in since well before 1995, demonstrating yet another longstanding customer-client relationship which has evolved over the years as the event has gone from strength to strength.

2013 saw the event celebrate its silver jubilee of offering a wide variety of activities for birders and naturalists. Known by some as the ‘Birdwatcher’s Glastonbury’ the event continues to grow, providing greater challenges for the production team year-on-year.

The Birdfair is run by Leicestershire and Rutland Wildlife Trust in partnership with the RSPB and takes place at Rutland Water Nature Reserve - a beautiful reservation that is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Protection Area (SPA).  And so Pearce Hire has a unique task when the British Birdwatching Fair takes residence here.

Project Manager John Huson of Pearce Hire explains: ‘We have to be exceptionally careful how we distribute equipment round the site and the routes we take for cabling to avoid damaging the environment. This is of course something we are used to doing on all greenfield sites, but with Rutland Water we have to be even more conscientious because it is an SSSI.’

And this is no mean feat, when the quantity of cabling installed amounts to over 10kms, in order to supply power to over 200 exhibitors over 10 large exhibition marquees on a 12-acre site!

The site is right next to Rutland Water, and is, in some areas, lower than water level. When it’s a wet year (which fortunately it wasn’t this year), this creates additional logistical challenges, alongside the fact that there are protected hedgerows separating all the fields the event takes place on.  Careful planning of cabling and distribution layout is required to reduce damage to the grasslands and as the show footprint increases this can alter each year.  As in previous years, the entire site was fed from a single pair of synchronised generators, and because of the necessary location of them it meant the furthest distribution unit had over 450m of cabling between it, and the generator.

In addition to the power supply and cabling to serve the entire temporary infrastructure around the show, Pearce Hire also provides lighting and audio systems for the four on-site lecture marquees. Standard lighting rigs were installed in the lecture theatre tents, using all LED fixtures to reduce power consumption as well as to minimise the heat radiated from the lighting fixtures. The main events tent, featuring a mixture of lectures, quizzes and presentations was kitted out with a more complex conference style lighting rig.  Standard conference audio packages were provided for the lecture marquees, and in the events tent an enhanced package including L-Acoustics speakers driven by L-Acoustics LA8 controller amplifiers. From an infrastructure point of view, Pearce Hire provided the site-wide 100v line PA system for event and visitor announcements inside and outside all marquees and across the site, and all site and emergency lighting (using low energy fittings to meet the sustainable credentials of the event).

Tim Appleton MBE is the Manager of the Rutland Water Reserve and Co-Organiser of the British Birdwatching Fair. He applauds the approach Pearce Hire take with this challenging project : ‘Pearce Hire has been our main contractor on Birdfair for many years, and they provide not only a continuity of service, but a first-class service. We trust them 100% on their delivery – they know the site like the back of their hand and come in every year and immediately get on with what is now a massive undertaking. They show respect for the unique environment they are working in, and go that extra mile to safeguard the reserve.’

Concludes Pearce Hire’s John Huson – ‘We love the challenge of the Birdfair and take great pride in ensuring that we do what we can with the production of the event to protect the fragile and important natural environment that we are working in. It’s a pleasure to see the show grow each year, and we enjoy being part of that success’.