What an eventful weekend we enjoyed at the fifty seventh annual gathering of the GFS. A capacity turnout on both days ensured that there was plenty of atmosphere within the Lancastrian room of the Imperial Hotel.The room was full even before the music commenced but it is always nice to chat with friends old and new. Much excitement was created by Britain’s favourite comedian Harry Hill and his two friends Rob and Phil making an appearance. We got to know the three of them at the magnificent Royal Albert Hall weekend and I remember chatting with Harry and him saying that he would try to get to Blackpool - and he was as good as his word. To the credit of the three of them, they stayed for the entire weekend and joined in with the various thrash sessions and also went on stage with two of the George Formby Society’s finest in Lewis Clifton and Stuart Lowther for a repeat of the Queen’s 92nd birthday song, “When I’m Cleaning Windows”.
A NEW INSTRUMENT UNVEILED
Much interest was also generated when Lewis unveiled a brand new instrument, built by Rotherham’s Eddie Uttley. Eddie brought two of the striking looking white instruments with him and Lewis Clifton is now the proud owner of the very first EU ukulele-banjo. Lewis used it for his first spot on stage and even to my sadly depleted hearing ability, the uke sounded great. Eddie Uttley has a fantastic reputation within the GFS and does some wonderful work in restoring instruments so that they look better than the day they were bought and now Eddie has finally found the time to start his own line of quality instruments.
TERESA GETS HER HAIR CUT!
Lesley Fowkes and devoted husband Martin were in the room early on Saturday; Lesley is fighting MND and is driving a campaign to raise funds to help in the research to find a way of combating this horrible illness. Lesley’s friend Teresa Adcock had pledged her support by committing herself to having all her hair shaved off on Saturday afternoon and in front of a large audience with cameras snapping in all directions, Harry Hill joined Teresa on stage to make the first furrow through Teresa’s luxurious hair. Clarrie Ramsden then took over and proceeded to pair Teresa’s hair right down to the bone! Buckets were passed around the room to add to funds that Teresa has already created on her Just Giving page. Please contribute to Teresa and Lesley’s campaign in any way that you can.
SPECIAL FILM CLIPS
Staying with the MND campaign, after the George Formby film on both Saturday and Sunday evening, a 10-minute film of Caroline Stewart’s famed bungee jump from the dizzy heights of the Teeside Transporter Bridge was shown and was received with loud applause at the end. Unfortunately Caroline was indisposed this weekend so perhaps the film can be repeated in November? Another nice feature of the cinema this weekend was a short clip of George’s only surviving leading lady when Eileen Bennett who starred in “Much Too Shy” was shown greeting the members and wishing them and the Society well for the future
THE ANNUAL UKULELE RAFFLE
The Saturday evening concert was a mixture of excellent renderings of Formby songs from various members, Kitty’s Raffle, Gerry’s Auction and finally the drawing of the annual uke-banjo raffle ticket. This was carried out by raffle organiser Kathryn Pollard who drew out winning raffle ticket number 10121 in the name of Jim Ellis. Jim was not with us this weekend but efforts by the committee to contact Jim over the next few days to arrange to present him with his prize are going on as I write.
LIFETIME MEMBERSHIP FOR DAVID HAMER
Another nice moment was when our President, Gerry Mawdsley presented founder member David Hamer with a lifetime membership together with flowers and gifts to celebrate David’s eightieth birthday David was humbled by the proceedings and the audiences generous applause. David always takes the trouble to visit our shop when he comes to the conventions and both Kathryn and myself have got to know and appreciate David very much in the time that we have managed the shop in Blackpool.
THE SUNDAY MORNING AGM
Sunday morning at 10:30 prompt, members are seated back in the Lancastrian room for the annual general meeting where they elect a new committee for the forthcoming year. Back on for a second time is Tony Kenny together with new members, Steve Langford and Paul Conroy.Vice-Chairman Daz Barry retires for personal reasons. Daz has been a great worker for the GFS, particularly at Blackpool conventions and intends to continue to do as much as he can at future meetings. Daz is also involved with organising the GFS South Yorkshire branch.
There are so many people who work to get the meeting on and to keep it running smoothly, obviously the committee get the thing organised long before the appointed date but on the weekend itself there are dedicated volunteers who all put the final touches to making the weekend the success that it is.The shop ladies, masters of ceremonies (male and female), stage managers, audio engineers, the GFS archivists, raffle ticket sellers, concert organisers, photographers and of course the famous GFS band all add that extra special something that gives the GFS conventions the magic touches that ensure that everyone who travels from near and far, go back home again with the happy thought that they will do it all again next time. And the next time is not that far away, it is now all systems go for the final meeting of the year when we all return once again on November 17 - 18 to do it all again and create more magic memories to finish the GFS year in style.
THE MAGIC OF FORMBY
I have to say though in closing, that the best magic of all are the songs, films, photographs and memories left to us all by George Formby. His is the real magic that pulls everyone back to Blackpool and puts something a little extra in to our lives that is really quite unique.
Harry Hill visits the GFS
Listen to Harry after the convention on Radio 2’s Jo Whiley & Simon Mayo Show