A beacon of love
PUBLISHED: 11:30 27 October 2015
Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2013
He has stood side by side with the Royal family watched by millions worldwide, but for Bruno Peek no event compares to planning his wedding, writes Rachel Buller.
He is a man of unabashed excitement and uninhibited national pride, the mastermind behind some of Britain’s largest national celebrations. But last year, Pageantmaster and event coordinator Bruno Peek faced his toughest and most important task yet, organising his own big day.
“I wanted the wedding to be something unique for Moira because she’s the most important person in my life, she’s my second queen,” he smiles.
The other to which he refers is, of course, The Queen and having been by her side during her Diamond and Golden Jubilee celebrations, his admiration and respect for the royal family is clear.
Bruno, who lives in Gorleston, is currently in the throes of organising several new and ambitious events – including a major project this month.
“Seafarers UK asked if I could help with their plan to honour the Merchant Navy. If it wasn’t for those men and women who have served at sea during wars, through terrible weather and in dangerous situations, life would be very different in this country, yet they are often overlooked. The aim is to get all the ships’ horns in every port in the country sounding and the Red Ensign flying at 10am on September for Merchant Navy Day. The ships horns are a sound of distress, so logistically there is a lot to do,” he says. “But it will be an incredible sight and sound.”
He is also excited about a project closer to home in Great Yarmouth which he hopes will draw in visitors and boost the local economy.
“I love the Edinburgh Tattoo and always wanted to do something similar in Yarmouth. So in 2017, we are planning a Norfolk Military Tattoo in the Market Place which will be an amazing spectacle.”
It has been an extraordinary journey for Bruno, who was has gone from working as a welder living above a shop in Yarmouth to celebrated pageantmaster.
“In the 1970s, I was the lead singer in a band called Train. I was a terrible singer wearing a horrendous satin suit,” he laughs. “But I was really interested in performance and putting on a good event.”
In 1981, his fledgling career as an events organiser began with the resurrection the Great Yarmouth Carnival. Buoyed by its success, his speculative letter to the English Tourist Board led to him, rather surprisingly, being asked to organise a chain of coastal beacons for a Maritime England publicity campaign. He hasn’t looked back.
“I never ever thought I would achieve what I have, but the reason is because of the help I have had. People have been so generous with their time. I like to think the events I have done are in keeping with what people want; sometimes it just needs someone to kick start it,” he says, modestly.
Among his achievements are the lighting of thousands of beacons across the UK to celebrate a number of different occasions – including the Millennium on New Year’s Eve, 1999, and The Queen’s Golden and Diamond Jubilee celebrations. In 2009, his event, Fly a Flag for the Armed Forces, marked the strength of public support for British servicemen and women.
“I think as a country we are starting to be proud of what we have actually achieved,” he says. “With all the bad things that are going on in the world, people want to celebrate, and commemorate and appreciate our nation.”
In recognition of his tireless work, Bruno was awarded an OBE in June 2000, and in 2012 he was appointed a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order - which meant he was able to get married in a very special setting.
“We were allowed to get married in The Queen’s Chapel at the Savoy in London. Moira looked amazing. Her dress not only looked beautiful, but seemed absolutely perfect for the stunning location and its history.”
He says his marriage to Moira and becoming a step-father to her three sons has changed him.
“They are lovely lads, they really are. I am not their father but I like to think I am their friend. It has taught me is a sense of responsibility. When I started out, I didn’t need to worry about anyone except myself if things went wrong, but that has changed.”
For all the incredible occasions he has been a part of, he says nothing beats being at home in Gorleston and for now he is enjoying family life after working on the 70th anniversary VE Day celebrations. He says: “I have been lucky enough to travel to amazing places and meet amazing people, but there is nothing like that feeling of coming home.”