The June 2018 convention was another great success for all those involved, both organising it and those attending it. A good crowd on both days and the GFS shop girls kept busy throughout the weekend which suggests that the fantastic Royal Albert Hall appearance in April put the Society well and truly back in the public’s eye.
Once again, some smashing entertainment from the stage from members both old and new. I think we were all entertained by Matthew Quilliam. Some really good performances from someone who I have not seen in Blackpool before this weekend.Both James Fleming and 17-year-old Courtney Razavi Rezvani are making really good progress since they came into the GFS last year. It always amazes me just how young people grasp all the skills needed to play the Formby style so quickly. We have seen this happen so many times in past years but it is always exciting to view.As ever the Davies Sisters always look lovely and their performances are always top class.
NICE TO MEET OLDER MEMBERS
It was also nice to see a couple of faces from some years ago in Tom Cutler and Reg Goldsmith. Tom was a 14-year-old in 1995 when he won the GFS Song Competition which the Society ran for a few years in the 90’s. Reg has also paid his dues to the GFS by being involved in what was The London & Home Counties branch in the 1990’s and has now developed into the Essex branch with Reg still being involved to this day.
In June 2017 we had a proper GFS wedding when Kevin and Cathy Staniland said their vows in the Imperial Hotel. One year later and they were both back with us this weekend. Kevin spent his Sunday working on the sound mixer after it was discovered on Saturday that a faulty wire was spoiling the quality of the sound. Kevin is very experienced with sound balancing and is the audio engineer at the South Yorkshire branch as well as two branches of the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle.Staying with romance for a moment as GFS chairman Caroline Stewart and her beloved husband Ray also celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary on Saturday.
A lot of the weekend revolved around the lovely Lesley Fowkes who sadly has Motor Neurone Disease. Lesley is not taking this terrible illness lying down and is battling each day to come to terms and contain it. She is also raising money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Lesley first set her sights on raising £2000 but her friends both within the GFS and outside the society have responded magnificently and at the time of writing Lesley and her friends have climbed to £3021 and now the target is £4,000. You can support Lesley’s noble effort at this link.
GFS chairman Caroline Stewart has decided to dive off 160 feet high Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge only attached by a bungee rope. Caroline is obviously not doing this for feelings of peace and tranquillity and is also hoping people will support her headlong dive by sending money for Lesley’s charity. Please support Caroline’s dive to glory at this link.Caroline Stewart was immaculately dressed and looked beautiful when she took to the stage to to compere Saturday evening’s concert – will she wear the same lovely dress when she dives into glory from the Teesside Bridge I wonder?
THE SOCIETY’S BEST MEDIA FRIEND
The best friend that the GFS has ever had as far as media is concerned is Daniel Wiles. Daniel of course produced two brilliant documentary programmes on George Formby. The 1992 South Bank Show and Frank Skinner On Formby.Daniel and his wife Erica made the long journey from London to be with us this weekend and Daniel told me just how pleased he was to see the Society featured so well in the Royal Albert Hall. Even though Daniel has retired from film production, he is always very welcome in Blackpool
MEMBER OF THE WEEKEND - AND HE WASN’T EVEN
Tommy Quirk has been coming to The George Formby Society Blackpool conventions since he started in the Society in 1992. In that time I have never known him to miss a Blackpool meeting. This weekend for the first time in all those years, Tommy was missing! This was noted by quite a few members as well as myself and we hoped that Tommy had not suffered a mishap.When I got back home after the weekend I contacted Tommy to find out if he was alright, he told me, “Sorry I didn't get to go, but my next door neighbour wasn't too good. I wouldn't let anyone else look after him. I also learnt a new song too. I'll be there September say Hello to Kathryn. Might see you in Liverpool. Cheers mate, Tommy.”The Society is full of nice people who always show kindness and generosity to others, Tommy is a shining example of that wonderful spirit. He just comes along to Blackpool, plays his songs and then sits and enjoys the other entertainers. He has always been a supporter of our GFS shop and a meeting without Tommy, his uke and his famed towel is undoubtedly a duller affair!We all I feel sure, will look forward to Tommy’s return in September.Peter PollardJune 2018
The one and only Tommy Quirk
Caroline & Ray Stewart
The GFS Convention it full swing!
Great entertainment from Matthew Quilliam
Paul Robinson gets some attractive backing singers!