Love Medway Team
1 Aug 2021
You may have spotted a Star Wars stormtrooper around town over the past year or so – under the armour is lifelong Rochester resident Steven Waterman-Gay who has been raising funds for charity and enlivening parties and weddings in his authentic costume. We took him to a few of Rochester’s most touristy locations for a juxtaposition of sci-fi and history – a stormtrooper’s day out!
48 year old Steve has lived in Rochester all his life, he’s been married to Michelle for six years and the couple have two children Abigail (4) and Arthur (2). Steve says that he has always liked Star Wars and dreamed that one day he might be a stormtrooper. Well he’s made that dream come true! Love Medway met up with Steve in historic Rochester –we thought it would be fun to photograph him against the various historic backdrops the town has to offer.
Steve became a stormtrooper a few years ago after seeing members of club The Imperial Outlanders doing a troop in the Pentagon Centre, Chatham. Steve has since joined the club, saying, “I thought – I want to do this – so I got myself a suit and here I am now loving it. “At the moment I am a dedicated stormtrooper but I am in the process of making a Mandalorian inspired costume – but they take time to make and resource and finding time with our kids to fit it in”.
While out and about with Steve, we were stopped on numerous occasions by passers by (on foot and in cars) who wanted to pose for a selfie – adults and children alike! Everyone is impressed by the accurate costume and it Steve’s presence really brings a smile to people’s faces. Despite the heat under the armour, Steve is clearly happy to pose and bring a bit of fun and novelty to others. He’s also called upon to go to people’s birthday parties and weddings; he makes home visits; and has even been to school graduation parties. He says, “People love getting their photos taken with a stormtrooper but I can also call on my other friends to come along – if they are available – who do other characters from the films”.
The past 18 months have been difficult for many, with pressure on health and finances as the pandemic wreaked havoc and uncertainty on all sectors of society. During the first lockdown last year, while people were stuck at home with their movements outside regulated, Steve decided to try and cheer people up and bring a smile to the faces of children and adults alike. “I thought I would patrol round my local area of Borstal and try to raise some money for the local NHS, seeing that they were working so hard and not getting a lot back.
“Then people on Facebook suggested I go further afield so I took that advice and the walks spread further, covering more and more of Medway.” This period of time is when your editor saw a Stormtrooper in Delce Road – but it didn’t strike me as being all that unusual given that I have seen a knight in (shining) armour at Strood station and there are of course a wealth of amazing Dickens-inspired costumes to be seen on the streets during our various festivals. Steve continues: “The lockdown finished and people could go out again – but then the second lockdown started, so I went out again to bring joy and happiness to people during these hard times. So that’s why I wear the rainbow pauldron: to represent the NHS”.
ARMED BUT NOT DANGEROUS
I was struck by the great reaction from everyone on the streets while I was out with Steve. However, he has sometimes experienced a few strange looks from people not expecting to see something as surprising as a stormtrooper! He says: “I’ve been asked to hold babies for photos, and on one occasion I had hold a lady’s two dogs on leads for a photo. I have even been stopped by armed police units thinking I was carrying a real weapon, but normally most people cheer and wave or beep their car horns, and it’s really nice to wave at people as they go by.
THE BEST STAR WARS FILM?
Clearly Steve is an aficionado of the sci-fi saga, so I thought it would be good to compare notes on what ranks best. “Yes I love Star Wars – always have from when I was very young. As for the films, I love the original A New Hope, but one of best ones in my eyes is Rogue One. It fills in a lot of gaps between episode 3 and episode 4.
Seeing the sights of Rochester in full sci-fi armour – in August – is fairly hot work, so it was time to let Steve get back to his day. I asked him his views on the area, having always live in Medway. “I have seen how the Medway Towns have changed over the years. I like the area, my family is here, we have everything we need here and enjoy taking the children around the country parks Capstone and Riverside.”