the queen’s birthday party
Living The Dream in the Royal Albert Hall
It is Monday evening and it is my turn to sing my two songs at the GFS South Yorkshire branch. There is perhaps around thirty five people in the audience and I get through my songs with no problem and appreciate the generous applause from my fellow members. Contrast this with around 48 hours earlier I was on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, together with another band of fellow GFS members, taking the applause of a very appreciative audience of over five thousand people, including Her Majesty the Queen, plus a world wide TV audience of over two billion. I felt privileged to be asked to take part in this momentous occasion, an event that is surely the pinnacle of the Society’s history and certainly for all of us who took part, the highpoint of our GFS careers and definitely an unforgettable period in all our lives.

Planning and prep

What a weekend! All the planning and preparation, and such security! This event was planned by the BBC and they contacted the GFS website by email in February with a plan to stage a special event in which they would like to see “a group of ukulele players performing.” The last part of the email requested that the utmost secrecy had to be observed and that  if the plan became public knowledge, then our part in this event would disappear. I immediately contacted our President and the Secretary of the GFS, Gerry and Vivien Mawdsley and they took on the unenviable role of working out the who, what and when. We travelled to London on Friday 20 April from various locations and the BBC transported us to our hotel, The Crowne Plaza in Ealing. After some refreshments and a short rest we were again on the road to the LH2 studios in north west London for our first rehearsals. The studio complex was amazing and a treat for us all. A cavernous building that can obviously cater for any event. Technical equipment was everywhere and a tiered stage had been built for us to stand on. When we entered the rehearsal room we mounted the tiered platform. Behind us was the BBC Concert Orchestra and in front of us the TV producer, his staff and various technicians and others who all seemed to have a clip-board under their arm.

Well rehearsed

A few instructions to get us started and then the Concert Orchestra drummer led off into the intro of our song. It was such a pleasure to be amongst this group of GFS members, who straight away sounded really good, and why wouldn’t we? After countless group thrashes in Blackpool and at the various branches, we were already well rehearsed for this occasion. I was on the back row of the stage between Tony Lister and Lewis Clifton (we were told to remember the people next to us as this was how we would line up for the performance). I could not help noticing as we went through the song that all the staff walking about with their clip-boards had stopped what they were doing and were just stood, watching us and smiling! Even the BBC producer and the others involved with the production had smiles on their faces and I immediately knew that we were doing this right. We sang the song three times and practised walking off, mainly to check the timing, but the song was as good from the first time to the last. I turned around to face the orchestra after singing the number and they also were smiling and giving the thumbs up sign. Some of our team whilst chatting to the various technicians, were told that we had been the most enjoyable act of the day!

Saturday comes

On the day itself we were transported by two coaches to the famous venue and we were on the road by 10:00. On arrival we had to go through strict security and then into the famous Royal Albert Hall! Rehearsals were already taking place and I spent a brief time exploring as much as I could before we once again mounted the tiered platform but this time, within that famous auditorium. Just gazing around the hall and looking at the seating which seemed to go higher and higher was an amazing feeling. Again, the orchestra was behind us and again, we played the song without any problem and it sounded brilliant. One thing that was immediately apparent in this totally different show biz world is that there is lots of waiting around whilst others are doing their own rehearsals, but I have to say that we were really looked after by our hosts who provided food, soft drinks and plenty of fruit to keep us refreshed. Everything was done with precision timing, even the erecting and dismantling of our platform was all timed so that everything would work perfectly on the night. We could relax (and play) in our own Green Room and also watch others rehearsing and of course we could watch the show when it started on large TV screens within the room.

Meeting some stars

The day passed well and we all enjoyed chatting with our fellow performers. Of those I met, I have to say that they were all really nice and friendly and showed great interest in what we were doing. We all know that Frank Skinner is a genuine Formby fan and is a fully paid-up member of our Society; Ed Balls is also now a member and intends to get to a convention when his busy schedule will allow. Harry Hill was also a really nice, friendly sort and he also plays a Gibson UB3 and has done so for some years. I met and chatted with Alfie Boe and Jamie Cullem who again I found to be really nice people and very interested in what we were about.

Hard working members

It was a real honour and a very special privilege for us to be allowed to appear at such a prestigious venue. I honestly wished that all our members could have been there with us but obviously this could not be. Those who were selected are members who have worked hard over the years to make our Society the resounding success that it is today. We were all friends before the event but of course we are now much firmer friends having spent the weekend in such an unusual way.

Our message to the world

The main message that we would wish to go out to the world is that George Formby is not forgotten and The George Formby Society (now in its 57th year) is still doing such a grand job of keeping the Formby name alive throughout the world.

Accolade for Gerry and Vivien

We are indebted to our President Gerry and his wife Vivien who of course works as our Secretary for their tireless efforts, organisation and dedication to ensure that our part in this momentous occasion was a complete triumph. They were invited after the show to a special reception party with all the other stars and of course the Royal Party. A well deserved accolade for two dedicated people. Well done and congratulations to all who attended for a brilliant job so well executed, and more importantly, can I say a huge thank you on behalf of all our group to all those wonderful people who have supported us in the press and on social media, you gave us all such a boost and played a great part in allowing us to get it right on the night. Peter Pollard April 2018

THE GFS AT THE QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY PARTY

the queen’s birthday party
Living The Dream in the Royal Albert Hall
It is Monday evening and it is my turn to sing my two songs at the GFS South Yorkshire branch. There is perhaps around thirty five people in the audience and I get through my songs with no problem and appreciate the generous applause from my fellow members. Contrast this with around 48 hours earlier I was on stage at the Royal Albert Hall, together with another band of fellow GFS members, taking the applause of a very appreciative audience of over five thousand people, including Her Majesty the Queen, plus a world wide TV audience of over two billion. I felt privileged to be asked to take part in this momentous occasion, an event that is surely the pinnacle of the Society’s history and certainly for all of us who took part, the highpoint of our GFS careers and definitely an unforgettable period in all our lives.

Planning and prep

What a weekend! All the planning and preparation, and such security! This event was planned by the BBC and they contacted the GFS website by email in February with a plan to stage a special event in which they would like to see “a group of ukulele players performing.” The last part of the email requested that the utmost secrecy had to be observed and that  if the plan became public knowledge, then our part in this event would disappear. I immediately contacted our President and the Secretary of the GFS, Gerry and Vivien Mawdsley and they took on the unenviable role of working out the who, what and when. We travelled to London on Friday 20 April from various locations and the BBC transported us to our hotel, The Crowne Plaza in Ealing. After some refreshments and a short rest we were again on the road to the LH2 studios in north west London for our first rehearsals. The studio complex was amazing and a treat for us all. A cavernous building that can obviously cater for any event. Technical equipment was everywhere and a tiered stage had been built for us to stand on. When we entered the rehearsal room we mounted the tiered platform. Behind us was the BBC Concert Orchestra and in front of us the TV producer, his staff and various technicians and others who all seemed to have a clip-board under their arm.

Well rehearsed

A few instructions to get us started and then the Concert Orchestra drummer led off into the intro of our song. It was such a pleasure to be amongst this group of GFS members, who straight away sounded really good, and why wouldn’t we? After countless group thrashes in Blackpool and at the various branches, we were already well rehearsed for this occasion. I was on the back row of the stage between Tony Lister and Lewis Clifton (we were told to remember the people next to us as this was how we would line up for the performance). I could not help noticing as we went through the song that all the staff walking about with their clip-boards had stopped what they were doing and were just stood, watching us and smiling! Even the BBC producer and the others involved with the production had smiles on their faces and I immediately knew that we were doing this right. We sang the song three times and practised walking off, mainly to check the timing, but the song was as good from the first time to the last. I turned around to face the orchestra after singing the number and they also were smiling and giving the thumbs up sign. Some of our team whilst chatting to the various technicians, were told that we had been the most enjoyable act of the day!

Saturday comes

On the day itself we were transported by two coaches to the famous venue and we were on the road by 10:00. On arrival we had to go through strict security and then into the famous Royal Albert Hall! Rehearsals were already taking place and I spent a brief time exploring as much as I could before we once again mounted the tiered platform but this time, within that famous auditorium. Just gazing around the hall and looking at the seating which seemed to go higher and higher was an amazing feeling. Again, the orchestra was behind us and again, we played the song without any problem and it sounded brilliant. One thing that was immediately apparent in this totally different show biz world is that there is lots of waiting around whilst others are doing their own rehearsals, but I have to say that we were really looked after by our hosts who provided food, soft drinks and plenty of fruit to keep us refreshed. Everything was done with precision timing, even the erecting and dismantling of our platform was all timed so that everything would work perfectly on the night. We could relax (and play) in our own Green Room and also watch others rehearsing and of course we could watch the show when it started on large TV screens within the room.

Meeting some stars

The day passed well and we all enjoyed chatting with our fellow performers. Of those I met, I have to say that they were all really nice and friendly and showed great interest in what we were doing. We all know that Frank Skinner is a genuine Formby fan and is a fully paid-up member of our Society; Ed Balls is also now a member and intends to get to a convention when his busy schedule will allow. Harry Hill was also a really nice, friendly sort and he also plays a Gibson UB3 and has done so for some years. I met and chatted with Alfie Boe and Jamie Cullem who again I found to be really nice people and very interested in what we were about.

Hard working

members

It was a real honour and a very special privilege for us to be allowed to appear at such a prestigious venue. I honestly wished that all our members could have been there with us but obviously this could not be. Those who were selected are members who have worked hard over the years to make our Society the resounding success that it is today. We were all friends before the event but of course we are now much firmer friends having spent the weekend in such an unusual way.

Our message to the world

The main message that we would wish to go out to the world is that George Formby is not forgotten and The George Formby Society (now in its 57th year) is still doing such a grand job of keeping the Formby name alive throughout the world.

Accolade for Gerry and Vivien

We are indebted to our President Gerry and his wife Vivien who of course works as our Secretary for their tireless efforts, organisation and dedication to ensure that our part in this momentous occasion was a complete triumph. They were invited after the show to a special reception party with all the other stars and of course the Royal Party. A well deserved accolade for two dedicated people. Well done and congratulations to all who attended for a brilliant job so well executed, and more importantly, can I say a huge thank you on behalf of all our group to all those wonderful people who have supported us in the press and on social media, you gave us all such a boos t and played a great part in allowing us to get it right on the night. Peter Pollard April 2018

THE GFS AT THE QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY PARTY