Like many of the UK model railway community, I have been shocked and saddened by the news about the Market Deeping MRC show in Stamford. As you have probably read, it had to be cancelled after four teenagers broke into the school at 4am on the Friday night and totally trashed four layouts and some traders stands, that had been set up early. It is probably fortunate that prompt action by neighbours, caretaker, and police prevented any damage to a second hall. Another nine layouts were due on the Saturday, and escaped damage. These photos, from the local paper, show the shocking extent of the damage. It was also the most read article on the BBC for a while.
There is little that can be said when one sees these photographs. What could compensate financially for 20 years work on a layout, or for the locomotive above? However, it is at least good to see the strength of our hobby. Market Deeping club have set up a Just Giving page to with a target of £500 for their immediate expenses. As I write on Sunday afternoon, it is already at £5,315 (and has doubled as I wrote this post!) [Amazingly, it’s up to £31,000 when I looked at 10:00pm – modellers can be wonderful, sometimes!]
And up to £51,000, 11:30am, Monday – a wonderful response.
And 10:00pm £78,000 plus £10,000 promised by Rod Stewart, and £5,000 from Miniatur Wunderland. So good!
This is probably an isolated incident, but it does raise some questions about our exhibitions. These are usually very well organised, but are most definitely also run by amateurs. My reaction as an exhibition manager is to ask:
- Would it be prudent to have overnight security at our venue? But comments on our forums also suggest that some venues such as schools would not allow this, relying on the burglar alarms.
- What is the real insured value of our shows? I realise both that this is very much a guess for us amateurs, and also that it would be very easy to underestimate the insured value of a show. Even if the exhibitors send an insurance value with their layout details, I suspect many of them will be low estimates.
- Most worryingly, would a true insurance value price us out of the market? And will some exhibitors not want to bring along their best work to shows, leaving us with a lower standard of model on display?
Some guidance would be helpful from the insurance business, or perhaps from the organisers of our more commercial shows such as TINGS and Ally Pally. Perhaps at the end of the day we need to put this into perspective. Hopefully an isolated incident, and with losses that are probably a fraction of those to flood, fire and burglary?
I can only offer my best wishes to the Market Deeping MRC, and that they will recover, stronger if scarred, in the future.