Mersea Island in Essex, to the south-east of Colchester, may not look on first inspection to be the most likely place to head to see the famous puppets from the much-loved Thunderbirds franchise. Yet, that is precisely where many of them will be on display in March.
A one-off event on 16th March, in aid of West Mersea RNLI, will give visitors a must-not-miss opportunity to see the original Thunderbirds puppets and vehicles, and even to have their photograph taken with Parker.
Nor will the delights on the day be restricted solely to all things Thunderbirds, as a life-size replica of an original Dalek will also be present.
An event that no local Thunderbirds or puppet enthusiast should miss
As reported by the Daily Gazette, the fundraiser – entitled Rescue 1 – will take place at The Mersea Centre, which is owned and run by the Mersea Island Community Association (MICA).
Among the very special guests will be Mary Turner, who was the creator and puppeteer behind the iconic Lady Penelope and Captain Scarlet. Also in attendance will be Shane Rimmer and Matt Zimmerman, who voiced brothers Scott and Alan Tracy and actually lived on Mersea in the 1960s.
It won’t just be this trio that fans get to see, however, as 15 of the original Thunderbirds puppets will also appear, along with the TV series’ special effects director, Brian Johnson.
A celebration by fans, for fans
Unsurprisingly, event organiser Graham Farley is a long-time fan of the show himself. The programme saw characters take on rescue missions not unlike the RNLI’s, in an indication of just how befitting a cause the event is being held for.
Farley commented: “I collect, restore and remake puppets and research the subject, and have done for a long time. I loved the Thunderbirds for a long time as a kid and it became a hobby in the last 15 years.
“Through that research I made contact with the original technicians – camera operators, puppeteers, voice artists – and just built up my network.”
He added that the loss of such stars as Jeremy Wilkin, who provided the voice for Virgil Tracy and passed away in 2018, was another motivation to hold the event now.
“Some of these guys behind the show are in their 80s so we won’t have this opportunity again. We’ve also lost a couple of the major actors in recent years so I thought if I don’t do an event now, I will regret it.”
More information, including the chance to book tickets, can be found on The Mersea Centre’s website. As for if you are in the market for some beautiful hand puppets of your own, well, there’s only one online store to which you ever need to turn – Puppets By Post!