It was definitely a colourful spectacle in Blackpool on the weekend of the 17 – 18 November, and I am not referring to the dancing competition in the Tower Ballroom. No, the November Blackpool meeting was the last of the four George Formby Society conventions to be held this year. What a way to close our year! The occasions when we have made the extra effort to dress in 1940’s fashions are always a treat and the members attending this weekend really caught the flavour of the event and certainly lived up to previous wartime events with their efforts to dress in 1940’s fashions. From the start on Saturday afternoon we were treated to memorable performances throughout the weekend from another capacity audience.


I was delighted by the presence of Courtney Razavi Rezvani who made the long trip from London by bus, a journey that took him 10 hours through Friday night. He made it to the Imperial hotel and joined us for the day before travelling back by the same tedious 10 hour bus journey – surely this is dedication to the cause!


The whole two-day event was brilliant! They always are of course but there are always some highlights that come up to surprise and entertain. Convention regulars gave warm appreciation to newcomer Simon Rose who also travelled from the London area and embraced the 1940’s theme, sang some appropriate wartime songs and even tried to flog ladies nylons from the stage! On Sunday night he entertained us with some tap dancing to the accompaniment on the banjo-uke of Johnny Key. I stood at the side of the stage with my video camera and gazed in awe as Simon tapped furiously to the music from Johnny Key’s banjo-uke.  Sometimes in life you start on something and then wonder why you started it and then the next big question is usually how to get out of it! Tap dancing is strenuous to say the least and in the warm confines of the Lancastrian Suite I felt for Simon as he tapped furiously away to a gleeful and appreciative audience. I was reminded of the theory that George developed his syncopated style of banjo-uke playing by accompanying Beryl whilst she also tapped out the rhythm. I feared that the stage (which of course is only assembled for our convention) was showing signs of stress from Simon’s delightful display – I was also slightly concerned at the amount of sweat dropping from Simon’s brow as he furiously accompanied Johnny’s rhythmic playing. Fortunately Simon gave out before the stage did – but for me, Simon Rose deserves the highest praise, a new member who established himself and raised the roof in one weekend! Ten out of Ten for effort and sheer entertainment – Simon, you are welcome back any time!


Saturday night was reserved for the special “The GFS at War” concert which started with community singing from the audience, lead by John Wally who organised the whole event. The audience was assisted by having the lyrics to six popular World War II songs displayed on a screen on stage from the video projector. Then followed images of Neville Chamberlain as he declared war on Germany. This was then followed by images of Winston Churchill and then low and behold, the great man himself took to the stage to offer more wise words. Mr Churchill has certainly worn well over the last 79 years since war was declared - I couldn’t help but think that Sir Winston bore a remarkable likeness to GFS member Martin Fowkes but then again, my eyes are not what they were and it was surely the great man with his stirring oratory that we all gazed upon. How could the following concert fail after such a brilliant and novel introduction with the singing, the images and Winston himself? Then the wartime concert opened with the brilliant Lewis Clifton and “Smile All The Time” and proceeded throughout Saturday evening with one entertainer after another singing the songs that made George Formby a household name and helped to keep people’s spirits up when all around them was chaos. We even had bouts of comedy from Vivien Mawdsley and Kate Howard and later in the evening John Walley and Frances Lister ensured that this was a concert with a difference. Finally Sir Winston came back to close the show to rousing cheers and applause from all around the room. The Sale branch organiser Alan Newton deserves a special mention for bringing with him many union jack flags for the audience to wave throughout the community singing and the rest of the evening.


Throughout the weekend our members gave some memorable performances of Formby numbers but also other songs as well. Pat and Geoff Silcock are a great team and certainly convention favourites. One song, played on Sunday was The Remembrance by Jake Thackeray. Pat’s lovely voice really brought out the sad lyrics and you could have heard a pin drop as Pat and Geoff held the audience. Another lovely moment was when Lewis Clifton sang Billy Uke Scott’s signature tune, “I’m Only Singing To One”. Billy wrote some beautiful songs and of course was a regular visitor to the conventions and indeed was a honorary member. I feel sure that Billy would have been delighted with Lewis’s performance and thankfully we have all these magical moments on video so that I was able to share them with Billy’s daughter Susanne who was delighted to know that her dad is still remembered within the GFS. I shot well over eleven hours of video over the weekend, the best of which will be included on two DVDs that will be available soon. The most popular song throughout the weekend was predictably “Leaning On A Lamp Post” which was sung seven times but there was so many moments that I took home with me to savour until we all meet again in 2019. Many people worked hard to ensure that the whole weekend was a great success, not just the committee but also all the volunteers both on and off stage who always play a vital part from start to finish.


The GFS can look back on a marvellous 2018, four great conventions plus the magical Royal Albert Hall gathering to celebrate the Queen’s 92nd birthday together with the prospects of participation in January of the GFS on national TV again in the Harry Hill Fun Capsule and the April 2019 concert in the famed Winter Gardens Opera House with a all-star line-up surely suggests that the popularity of George Formby and our Society is as buoyant as ever. This last weekend of 2018 was not just a commemoration to the events of World War II, it was also a wonderful tribute to George Formby, the Society and all the people who believe in what we do. I cannot think of a better way to close this year’s Blackpool events other than with the thought that the members (and new members) will all gather in March 2019 to celebrate once again, the songs and memory of George Formby O.B.E. PP 11/2018
November 2018
The GFS At War
Pat & Geoff Silcock gave some memorable performances
Pat & Geoff Silcock gave some memorable performances
Stuart Lowther and Andy Poppleton - ready for action!
Johnny Key in battle dress!
Simon Rose - or is it Private Walker?
Leigh, Kate & Caroline dress for the occasion
Kathryn & Dolwyn worked hard in the Shop
Courtney performs after his long trip
Lewis Clifton pays a sincere tribute to honorary member, the late Billy Uke Scott
New member Simon Rose demonstrates his tap dancing skills.