The 58th annual meeting of The George Formby Society took place on the weekend of September 21/22 in The Imperial Hotel, Blackpool and after the disappointing attendance at the previous convention, this meeting had a far better turnout. All the Blackpool conventions contain special memories and September was brim full of the best that the Society offers.


To highlight the Sunday morning official proceedings, committee member Caroline Stewart retired from her role of the past five years as Chairman of the Society, Caroline has also stepped down from the committee. She gave great support to the Society over her time on the committee, joining in September 2013 as assistant treasurer before taking on the role as the first-ever lady chairman in September 2014. Steve Langford is the new Chairman and I feel sure that he will be more than capable in his new role. Stephen has been a member of the Society since 2013 and is a very familiar face at the Blackpool conventions. I know that he will be an excellent replacement for Caroline and he was warmly welcomed into the role by the members at the Sunday morning meeting. Co-opted on to the committee were John Taylor and Joe Sadler so the committee is looking towards 2020 with a healthier compliment than for some years gone.


The meeting itself was good, more than good with some brilliant players, in fact, all the performers  no matter what the stage of advancement, always give full value for money whilst on stage. Performances that I enjoyed were, Gladys Geoghegan singing "The Ghost" accompanied by Simon Rose on his musical saw. Pat Parkes, a regular GFS member at Blackpool for many years revealed a lovely singing voice when she took to the stage for the first time with "Little Old Wine Drinker Me."


It was also a big welcome back for Pat and Geoff Silcock who have been much missed this year. Geoff with his lovely 12-string guitar and Pat and her lovely smile and beautiful voice can entertain anywhere and we are lucky that we can boast of such talent regularly in Blackpool and around the regions at the branch meetings. Who can fail to be entertained by the likes of Stuart Lowther, Lewis Clifton, Mike Warren, Matt Richards and all the other top-notch players? When you consider that George died fifty-eight years ago, I find it extraordinary that we still get hundreds of enthusiastic people travelling to Blackpool to enjoy the music and memories of George Formby. I ask myself if any other star of that era can command the same following? Those members travel from far and wide with Brian West coming from Spain and Terry and Marie Tucker travelling from California. Terry and Marie have made the journey to Blackpool for many years now and are always great company to be with. Another United States visitor was  Stephen Butler from Utah. It was lovely to see a visitor from much closer to home in the shape of long-term GFS member Lionel Owen. Lionel and his grandson Jason travelled from their home in Yorkshire to enjoy the weekend. Lionel has visited Blackpool over many years since he joined the GFS in 1962 and has entertained on the stage many times.


London members are always active in Blackpool and it was nice to see old friend Von Hoffman back with us. Von was a regular visitor in the 1990s at the Winter Gardens and always sang the songs of George Formby Snr. Von brought to Blackpool, a beautiful cylinder phonograph which was dated 1907. The cylinders that Von brought with him to Blackpool were of course all by the first George Formby and along with John Walley, Von demonstrated the phonograph from the stage to a very appreciative audience. George Formby's father is rarely remembered these days so it was good to listen to one of the great English comedians of his day reproduced by the equipment of his era. I understand that after the demonstration, Von made the grand and generous gesture of donating the cylinders and phonograph to the Society archives!


On a personal note, unfortunately my hearing prevents me from enjoying much of what happens over the weekend, but because of my video camera, I can come home and watch the weekend again, this time with superior sound coming through superior headphones so the weekend stays with me long after many others. This has been the case for me since my early days in the GFS when all I wanted to do was to capture the music and the players on stage. These days everyone has a smart pvhone with very capable video abilities so the DVDs I create after the event do not have the same appeal as they once had.
september 2019
Back to its best!
Marie and Terry Tucker are greeted by Ray Reynolds
The 2019-20 GFS Committee
John, Steve and Von listen to GF Snr
Gladys Geoghegan & Simon Rose
I do though like to think that over the years I have built up a very useful library of players and special moments that occur over the Formby weekends. For me, it is a worthwhile exercise and I still have a very loyal band of followers who will buy the DVDs from the GFS shop both in Blackpool and on-line. My sincere thanks go to all who have supported me down the years for their enthusiasm and encouragement. From now until November is the shortest time between conventions so I need to work hard to create two memorable discs to back with me for the November meeting. I have to say though that because of the talents of all the playing members, it is made much easier and far more pleasurable for me to do. I will (all being well) be back with my cameras to capture once again, the sounds and sights that make up what to me are the four best weekends in the year, the George Formby Blackpool conventions. Peter Pollard October 2019