The year of 2018 was one of the most significant of all the fifty seven years that our Society has existed, most certainly because of the unforgettable appearance to celebrate Her Majesty The Queen’s 92nd birthday celebration at the Royal Albert Hall in April. Who would have thought that back in 1961 when the Society was born, that we would eventually be entertaining in front of The Queen in the most iconic theatrical building within the UK? I am certain that I can speak for all those fortunate enough to be chosen to make the trip, that this was the highpoint within all our Formby lives and personally something that will live with me for the rest of my days.
FIFTY SEVENTH BIRTHDAY
Yes, that was the pinnacle of our Society year but the year was highly successful in so many other ways. George Formby sadly did not live to celebrate his 57th birthday but the Society passed that point and celebrated its 57th anniversary in September. Another notable milestone in the development and continued success of the Society.Four highly enjoyable Blackpool conventions which ended in November with the marvellous war-time concert which took place on the Saturday evening and was to many in our audience, probably the best concert of the convention year. Everybody loves to dress up for a special occasion and the November convention was so enjoyable both from a performer’s point of view and also from an audience point of view as well. Our most famous member John Walley is the man we must thank for organising a truly magnificent show.It was so nice to see that one of the nation’s favourite comedian’s - Harry Hill, attending the September meeting alongside his two pals Rob and Phil. All three enjoyed a great weekend in our company and participated as much as possible both on stage and enjoying the members company throughout the weekend.
FOUR GREAT VELLUMS AND THE GFS WEBSITE
Four Vellum magazines were produced by long-standing editor Tony Thornton to keep all members updated of current and future events plus stories and photos on the life and times of George and Beryl. It is an awesome task to have to meet a deadline four times a year and to come up with new items for the membership to read and enjoy. The Vellum editor’s job is probably the most unwanted one in all the Society so I feel sure that Tony’s position will remain unchallenged for years to come! Continuing his standard of excellence, Angus Lamont managed to come up with lovely colourisations of Formby black/white images for the front cover.The GFS website continues to produce vital memberships and of course many existing members use the service to renew subscriptions. Gone are the days when overseas members would either send a cheque from foreign parts which once presented at the bank would lose much of its value when the bank took their charges. Even worse was when overseas members would risk sending currency from their home address which again, once received would lose much value when the bank again would take their charge. For quite some years now and thanks to the internet, we can all use Pay Pal to pay subscriptions, safe in the knowledge that the GFS gains far more than under the old system (Pay Pal does make a charge but it is minuscule when set against the old bank charges for cheques and currency).Pay Pal is also the key to much needed funds from the GFS Shop, the Society would be in a poor way without the revenue that the shop produces and Pay Pal once again fulfils members needs the world over. The shop also was in attendance at the four Blackpool conventions and will continue to have a presence in Blackpool for the four conventions of 2019. The website can also do what the Vellum magazine cannot, which is to include audio and video and of course to stay as up-to date as possible in between issues of the quarterly magazine.
The GFS branches have also had a good year and there is good news in that the Blackpool branch is to be revived after failing in December 2017. Local member Joe Sadler is the man behind the revival and his first meeting will take place on 28 January, 2019 to continue our association with this famous Lancashire holiday resort.All other branches appear to be continuing to maintain their steady progress. In the North we have enjoyed some great meetings at the Westhoughton, Liverpool, Sale, Castleford and South Yorkshire branches.
The Llandudno weekend was again a great success, organised once again by Wigan members Dennis and Debbie Lee. The Society members who attended, played for three days in the Llandudno sunshine to very large and enthusiastic audiences and our members played a large part in ensuring that the Llandudno Victorian Weekend was another big success. A three-day free show featuring the best of George Formby has proved over the years to be one of the most popular attractions of the Victorian Weekend.Caroline Stewart also ran her lovely Goathland meeting and all who attended were happy to once again enjoy the sound of the banjo-uke in the beautiful surroundings of “Heartbeat” country. Caroline has always used her event to support charities and this year she took a extra step and a very large jump further when on the day after her Goathland get-together she and many friends travelled up to Middlesbrough to watch Caroline dive from the top of the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge, to help raise funds and awareness for a lovely GFS lady called Lesley Fowkes.Lesley suffers from Motor Neurone Disease and since her diagnosis, she has worked tirelessly along with her husband Martin and her family and friends to raise funds to help find a cure for this cursed illness. Caroline’s brave leap of faith took great courage, there are surely easier ways of raising funds - but Caroline likes to give value for money! Another friend of Lesley and Caroline’s is a lady called Teresa Adcock and Teresa came to the September convention and had all her hair shaved off (Harry Hill performed the first shave!) to also support Lesley’s goal. It goes without saying that members of the Society (including the committee) have also got behind these lovely ladies and have helped in any way that they can to support their aims. This project is still ongoing and there is a link available on this page should anyone wish to donate.
2019 - OFF TO A GREAT START
2019 looks to be off to a great start with selected members appearing on nationwide TV when Harry Hill’s Alien Capsule TV show goes out in the first quarter of the year.The world famous Blackpool Opera House will also host a special star-studded show which will feature 60 GFS members on stage doing a selection of George Formby’s most famous songs.George made numerous appearances at this famous theatre, especially in 1939 when after the theatre, first built in 1889, was demolished and rebuilt within the space of twelve months and then re-opened for a Gala Night performance from George on 13 July 1939.On 06 April 2019 the sound of Formby will be heard once again when our members remind the theatre going public that George Formby is definitely not forgotten. With that thought in mind, we have come such a long way since 1961 and will continue to spread the word in 2019 and beyond, making sure the world does not forget the sight, sounds and talents of the great George Formby OBE.