BFBS Live Events – formerly CSE – provided live entertainment gigs for troops transiting through decompression in Cyprus.
Codenamed Operation Telic, the UK's military mission in Iraq between 2003 and 2011, was one of the largest deployments of British forces since the Second World War.
For those returning home, the Ministry of Defence supported the wellbeing of their troops by providing a safe and welcoming place where soldiers leaving theatre could release the heightened pressures of the operational environment before returning to their loved ones.
BFBS Live Events (formerly known as CSE) has been delivering exceptional entertainment to troops worldwide since 1946, providing high-quality and bespoke services, no matter what the venue, location or budget.
Because of BFBS's track record of innovation and meeting the needs of the MOD reliably since 1943, they called upon this small team of dedicated live event experts to organise an evening of entertainment for the Decompression package.
The BFBS Live Events team was engaged by PJHQ (Permanent Joint Headquarters) and Bloodhound Camp in Cyprus became a vital pitstop between the frontline of Iraq and Afghanistan and home. Troops were given at least 24 hours to themselves to mentally wind down and 'decompress' from the high alert state many had experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Troops passing through the process would receive the MOD’s welfare and support material, a series of talks, workshops and signposting to long-term support at home, as well as an evening of light-hearted entertainment and the opportunity to decompress after their tour.
Starting out as a three-act comedy show, the events soon included live music giving service personnel the chance to reflect and enjoy a positive shared experience.
What started off as a few experimental shows performed on wooden picnic tables set on concrete was soon boosted by PJHQ’s £4m investment in Bloodhound Camp with dedicated facilities built to support the initiative including an entertainment hall, bar and catering facilities, games rooms and relaxation areas.
Angie Avlianos, Manager, Live Events for BFBS said:
The BFBS Movie Machine today – it was a vital part of the decompression package.
To finish off the evening of entertainment, the BFBS Movie Machine was also introduced and took up residency at Bloodhound Camp.
Movies were shown within weeks of their UK release in a 44-ton articulated HGV with hydraulic sides which expands to double the space, creating an 80-seater cinema.
This has entertained the Armed Forces on deployment since 2001 – first in Bosnia and Kosovo then Cyprus as part of the decompression package.
This unique facility is still entertaining troops today thanks to a partnership with Sky, enabling BFBS to provide free screenings to forces and their families.
CSE ran more than 1,500 events for around 20,000 troops who passed through the decompression facilities in Cyprus.
By the end of a seven-year run supporting decompression, be it a few troops coming home or a 200-strong unit, BFBS was able to adapt the slick military entertainment operation to suit the needs of servicemen and women before their final flight home.