March Convention, the first in the fortieth year of the George Formby
Society has come and gone all too quickly. I have been attending these
conventions for the last ten years and this one seems to have been one
of the best.
As usual the concert is supposed to get underway around 13:30 on the Saturday but these Formby fans are nothing if not keen and they start assembling in the Winter Gardens at not much after ten in the morning.
By one thirty the Opera House Foyer room where this weekends meeting is taking place, is full. The concerts go throughout the weekend, with smaller presentations for ‘Up & Comers’ and a tuition class for ukulele beginners. There are instruments for sale and the ever-popular George Formby Society Shop, which is organised by Dennis, & Pat Taylor ably supported at the conventions by Jenny Smith and Kathryn Pollard.
The films this weekend are "Keep Fit" on the Saturday and "George In Civvy Street" on the Sunday and they both draw healthy attendances. But the main memories must come from the performers themselves and just how can one single out special moments when there are so many?
There is always a new or different presentation and this meeting we had a choice. Dickie Speake with a song written especially for the 40th anniversary of the George Formby Society. The lovely ladies who had travelled all the way from Sweden but could only stay for the Saturday, brought the house down with their afternoon and evening performances – brilliant!
The speech of President of the Society, Dennis Taylor is always delivered with sincerity and obvious commitment and this meeting he was delighted to honour (for the second time) one of the Society's most distinguished members. Ray Bernard was the very first member to join the Society after it's formation in 1961 by George Wilson.
On Saturday night Dennis bestowed Honorary Membership on Ray for the second time. This is unique in Society history and Ray accepted the honour with genuine humility. His performance on the ukulele and his smooth style of entertainment are much welcome additions to the already rich tapestry of entertainers within the Society’s membership.
Master of Ceremonies duties were shared over the weekend by Dennis Mitchell, Phil Forest, Jon Baddelley and Gerry Mawdsley who all delivered the goods in excellent condition.
The songs of George Formby came thick and fast and personally apart from Ray’s performance, I have to credit Mark Walsh, Adam Smith, Paul Kenny, and Andy Eastwood. All young men who have found some of the Formby magic.
The audience was full of praise for these and all the members who took to the stage over the weekend. Talent is never shared equally but everybody gets the same amount of applause and encouragement within this unique organisation.
The fortieth year is underway and could not have got
off to a better start. Roll on June!