You can read part one of our interview with Whitby Steampunk Weekend organiser Andy Pan Within by clicking this text.
As the interview progressed, we moved to various other subjects. I personally always like to see event organisers at events that aren’t theirs. Even if it’s to have a snoop at what is done there, the fact that ideas will be shared and adapted and evolved makes steampunk such a fluid movement. Andy goes to as many as possible and in his time has attended most around the North of England either to support other events or to trade with Decadent Preserves. “I love White Rose Yorkshire Steampunk Events. Dan Dunleavy’s Impossible Gears events are superb and David Smiths Events too. All have been just incredibly generous sharing Whitby Steampunk Weekend on their Facebook pages and taking flyers. I do however actively promote other colleagues events through Whitby Steampunk Weekend Facebook pages.”
It made me wonder whether an alliance could be on the cards. Maybe with Airship Northstar to join forces and corner the North East of England. However Andy was quick to assure me that no such plans are being considered.” I am happy just concentrating my efforts and working hard with the aim of creating a superb experience for our community at every Whitby event. I’m really excited and encouraged by Whitby Steampunk Weekend being so well supported, it had an estimated footfall of over 6000 at the last event, a superb turn-out considering it was only the second event.”
Sadly Andy hasn’t been able to attend as many events as he would have liked to recently after he was diagnosed with Cancer. It was news that rocked the Yorkshire steampunks to the core. Thnakfully Andy is making a recovery. “I was diagnosed with bowel cancer just before the Whitby Steampunk Weekend July event Matt, but deliberately kept it quiet as ‘the show must go on’ as they say and I didn’t want it to spoil the event. Following the event I went into hospital for further tests and then surgery. After a couple of weeks in hospital I am now recuperating but it is early days and may still need radiotherapy, we shall see.
What I would say is don’t ignore your body, don’t ignore symptoms and I would encourage everyone to get themselves checked out if you notice subtle changes. Contact your GP if you have any concerns, and We Are MacMillan are also superb if you need to talk in confidence or want more info 0808 808 00 00
Personally, I have been so lucky as I was already on a proactive screening programme with already suffering from chronic Ulcerative Colitis for nearly 20 years, so I was routinely checked every 2 years and the cancer was identified during a colonoscopy in early July.”
As expected, the community rallied round as Andy recalls: “I can honestly say I was immensely humbled and broke down on a number of occasions by the messages of support, love and goodwill and the offers of help too from our community.
I would like to take this opportunity in print thank each and every one of you individually who gave up their time to message my wife Michelle and I or the WSW facebook page through my period of difficulty.
This community of Steampunk is just wonderful and I am truly privileged to be a small part of it.”
Secrets of success
I was still desperate to find out the secret of Andy’s success. He’s had big names attending his events from the outset such as Professor Elemental, Montague Jacques Fromage, Gurdybird and Victor & The Bully. He’s even had American steampunk model Amy Wilder and legendary steampunk supremo Thomas Willeford fly over from the United States to attend. Just how did he manage to get these huge names in the community to come to his event without any prior experience of whether it would be worth the journey, time and effort on their part? “just like the traders, they all took a chance on me, they trusted me and believed in the event. I had met Monty and Victor and The Bully before and they really helped in spreading the word in getting behind the event once I had discussed my ideas and plans with them for the event, and the Professor too.”
Social media was a big help as the Facebook page for the Weekend took off and exploded; a trend that Andy has seen continue through to this day with thousands of excited attendees awaiting news of the event.
One thing we really like at the Journal is helping out charities. Whitby Steampunk Weekend has three charities working alongside them. RAW is a local animal rescue charity established by Norma Carrick and her late husband Dennis.
The Sophie Lancaster Foundation are also present at Whitby Steampunk Weekend. Sophie was beaten to death a little over 10 years ago simply because she was different. We’ve all encountered moments of bullying and/or harrassment; especially in our steampunk outfits. However, the movement of the Foundation and (especially) Goth’s determination to not change for anyone has seen an improvement in society’s eyes. People are more accepting of individuality, Millenials especially want to express themselves and accept others doing the same. Andy made sure that he gave the Foundation the space they needed to spread their message of tolerance and inclusivity. “The Sophie Lancaster Foundation were invited to the very first event but unfortunately they couldn’t make it. It was just great to have them with us in July. It’s an incredibly wonderful organisation that has developed from something so horrific. We are honoured to have them with us. There is an open invitation to them and are welcome at all Whitby Steampunk Weekend events.
As well as The Sophie Lancaster Foundation, we also quietly support a number of local businesses, organisations and charities who benefit from the event with complementary stalls and donations, for example.”
You can find out about the Sophie Lancaster Foundation by clicking this text.
Whitby Steampunk Weekend future plans
What we all want to know really is what plans Andy has for the future of the event. I was angling for a secret to be accidentally let out of the bag, but he’s far too clever for that. However, he did let us in on some aspirations for the future development of the event.“I would like to have more Whitby based businesses involved in some way in the event, whether it to be to talk about historical aspects of the town or its industries, as tourism is really only a small part of Whitby’s story which is wide and varied and really interesting.
We are also developing further the social media presence and have just started a Whitby Steampunk Weekend Channel on YouTube, so if anyone reading this has any videos or photos of the previous events they are happy for us to share and include on the channel, please get in touch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or https://www.facebook.com/whitbysteampunkweekend/“
You can also use the above link for following Whitby Steampunk Weekend on Facebook.
I will be in attendance at the February 2018 Whitby Steampunk Weekend so please do pop along and say hello. I’ll be conducting talks with Montague Jacques Fromage and Atticus Oldman from Steampunk Almanac about all sorts of steampunk topics.