After 40 years of ukulele playing and months, weeks and days of preparation and planning (and some sleepless nights) the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle held their 40th anniversary celebration in Woodkirk Country Club, Dewsbury on Saturday 26 October 2013 and I can report that it was a roaring success.

Actually the Uke Circle 40 years ago could have been the Leeds branch of the George Formby Society but Society president at that time, Bill Logan, stated that there would be "no branches of the Society". So the few Yorkshire men who needed an extra fix of ukulele playing between the September and March GFS conventions (no winter convention in those days) decided to create the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle - and the rest, as they say, is history!

Members and special guests of the Circle turned up for an afternoon and evening meeting and the room was full to capacity and all enjoyed top class entertainment, two first class buffet meals and a table full of first class raffle prizes that helped to pay for the days expenses, as the whole day was free to all those who attended.

Dennis Mitchell and Kathryn Pollard and her team of ladies worked hard to get everything ready and I have to say that the day went like clockwork, probably the best of the many special events that we have organised in the 22 years that I have been a member.

I must also mention two others with vital roles, Dale Norman brought his own hi-tech Bose sound equipment and worked all day setting up and then monitoring the sound and did a great job - and Dickie Speake once again brought his keyboard and provided live backing for any players who required it. Personally I wouldn't dream of using recorded backing when there is a live band and Dickie and his keyboard are synonymous with all that is best in Uke Circle gatherings.

We welcomed George Formby Society president Gerry Mawdsey together with his wife Vivien (GFS Secretary), plus invited guests who have visited the Uke Circle on previous occasions including Paul, Debbie and Lewis Clifton, Stuart Lowther and his mum Catrina, Bradley Clarke and his mum Sarah and dad Justin, Caroline and Ray Stewart, Martin Harrison, Alan and Hilda Southworth and honorary and founder member of the George Formby Society, John Walley and his wife Gill. All these people travelled many miles to be with us to help us make this a very special Yorkshire Ukulele Circle day.

The four surviving founder members (Dickie Speake, Paul Mountain, Lionel Owen and Ralph Hewitt) were toasted and all performed to the enthusiastic gathering. A video of the early 90's which included the very first footage of the Circle when they went on a canal boat outing in the 1970's was also included and DVD's of the clips were presented to each of the famous four. A special booklet was compiled to mark the occasion and to chronicle our history and was available on every table in the venue and was received with interest by all who read it.

George Butterworth is our official photographer and and provided us with a selection of photo albums going back over the years, which were available to view. Thank you George.

Gerry Mawdsley said some nice words about the Circle as did founder GFS member John Walley and all in all it was a brilliant day which didn't end until well after eleven in the evening.

Peter Pollard and Alan Kershaw made most of the introductions throughout the day and they were supported by Dennis Mitchell who was responsible for organising the whole day's entertainment.

Kathryn Pollard and Christine Kershaw worked alongside each other throughout the day and hardly spent more than 30 minutes away from preparing food or cleaning up. these two ladies just never stopped all day long and gave fantastic support to make this day the success that it was. Grateful thanks should also go to Elaine Kenny, Beryl Batty, Enid Burgess, Marianne Thackeray and Andy Poppleton who all played an important role in the food department.

People are now contacting us to say that it was the best party they can remember and I have to agree. Some people who were given tickets to this invitation only event didn't show up - they must have been mad! They missed a historic and highly entertaining 40th anniversary meeting.

Peter Pollard

view a gallery of peter pollard's images of the day

view a gallery of Gill Walley's images

watch the special video that was shown on the day

watch lewis clifton and dickie speake - chinese blues

watch lewis clifton and dickie speake - tt races



The founder members with Dennis Mitchell
A special cake!
Lewis Clifton
A section of the audience
Bradley Clarke
Gerry Mawdsley