This report by Richard Harwood:

The British Semi-Pro Firework Championships is the latest event on the UK pyro calendar. And to an audience of over 3000 people, it made its debut.

The Venue

The venue for this years championships was the Leicestershire Jet-ski centre, at Stoney Stanton. The large bank of land where the displays where to be fired from, in combination with the reflections from the adjacent lake, made for an idyllic setting.

Above: Panoramic view of the site.

The Teams

5 teams competed for the title of British Semi-Pro Firework Champion. The teams were as follows:






Setting Up The Pyro

Below are thumbnails photos taken at the championships. You can view the full size image by clicking on a thumbnail.


Led by Paul Stills, aka Stillsy, Team Orbital had some serious munitions set up, and this was later proven in a truly excellent display, which was of a very high standard!

Dave, Stillsy and Adam admire a Sandling Mega Mine cake.
More big cakes set up and staked down.
Team Orbital’s firing area. Lots of cakes and a Mt. Apo cone can be seen here.


Dave Vokins, aka Abigman, fired an awesome show all on his own without any assistance! Practically all of the Cat 3 cakes used were quite large, but Cat 2 material was also successfully incorporated into the display to good effect.

A big line of cakes, featuring the stunning Lake Of Sapphires by Kimbolton.

A nice big stash of pyro hardware used for Sky Matrix’s display.

Dave poses with his fireworks stash.


Chris Hartley and his team featured an excellent variety of material, both Cat 2 and 3, featuring cakes, wheels and waterfall set pieces.

Some serious munitions, featuring Kimbolton’s Northern Lights, an F3 fan cake plus a 100mm mine from Shellscape.
A nice little pyro arsenal ready for setting up.
Abigman, Mat and Adam check out the competition on offer from Fusion FX!
Chris (far left) and fellow team mates set up.
Kimbolton’s Giant Slat Wheel all ready to go.
Notice that giant slat wheel and look out for a Challenger rocket pod in this photo.


Unfortunately I ran out of time and was unable to get any shots of this team setting up due to commitments involving coverage of the MLE finale display. However a good selection of material was used in their show.

MLE Pyrotechnics Finale display

I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph the setup of the finale display, featuring amongst other things a 16″ shell 😉 This was my first ‘up close and personal’ experience of a pro display and I would like to thank Mat at MLE for allowing me to cover the event extensively.

The Championships culminated in a spectacular finale, combining Cat 4 fireworks and special effects, the latter element being overseen by MLE SFX.

Adam smiles for the camera!
Hard at work!
A fan of 6 inch mortar tubes.
Lee and the MLE team setting up candle fans and positioning shell racks prior to loading.
Securing a candle fan.
More setup.
Alex, Mat and Andy talk pyro.
2 inch shells, this lot went up all at once!

The 16 Inch Shell

A 16″ shell is often considered the holy grail of pyro and seeing one go off is quite rare in the UK. It is even more rare to see one explode whilst still in the mortar, unleashing its massive payload over a wide area! It really puts the occurrence of a Lunig Ball Rocket going off at ground level back into context! 😉

The team move the 16 ” mortar tube to the firing area.
It must have weighed a ton!
Vince digs the the mortar in.
Hard at work…
Ed (left) poses with the shell prior to being connected up and sealed in the mortar.
Boom! The 16 inch shell ‘flower pots’ in the tube! Brown trousers time!
Earthly remains of what was a heavy duty piece of hardware!
Mike, the venue owner, stands next to a few chunks of burnt cardboard 🙂
The lift charge container is visible amongst the remains at the bottom of the tube.

Miscellaneous Photos

Adam contemplates things in the car.
Dave holds a blackpowder maroon used to initiate the fireball in the MLE finale show.
An adjacent view of the teams’ firing area.
After the display, floodlights are started up and the pack up begins!

The Displays

It is hard to recall each team’s show, but they were all of a high standard. Team Orbital got things going with a bang and the display was rapid fire all the way through. Team Fusion FX and Sky Matrix both used some excellent munitions including plenty of Kimbolton and Shellscape material.

Team Pyro Dreams and the Lancashire Lads both used some very nice crossette fan cakes and some of the MLE material showcased also appeared to be of a high standard. I noticed several teams utilised the lake as much as possible by using the MLE strobing flares. The effect from 30 or so metres away looked excellent.

Results & Winner's Presentation

1st place:  Team Sky Matrix
2nd place: Team Fusion FX
3rd place:  The Lancashire Lads

The competition was judged by a panel comprising of the general public and also several officials. I was quite surprised that Team Orbital did not make it to the winner’s podium and I am sure there were others who will agree with me on this one.

But Abigman put on a stunning show and almost certainly deserved to win!

Mat Lawrence from MLE presents Dave Vokins of team Sky Matrix with his winner’s trophy. Dave also later received £1000 retail value of fireworks.

The Grande Finale

MLE brought the evening to a close with a very good display. Highlights included a computer fired mine sequence running across the site, ‘z firing’ cakes, an excellent 250 shot brocade crown and volleys of chrysanthemum, palm, brocade and peony shells.

I would like to thank MLE Pyrotechnics for their hospitality and assistance in the production of this article, I had a fantastic day and I am looking forward to next year’s event, which is likely to be located at a stately home.

I would also like to congratulate all the competitors for their involvement, I hope to see some of you next year!

Richard Harwood

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