November 2021

SECOND MEETING OF 2021

The second convention of 2021 ended in what can only be described as a triumph for the GFS members and committee. Two brilliant days within the Washington Suite at The Imperial Hotel, a special John Walley production on Saturday evening, a visit from The Mayor of Blackpool and to close the weekend, a wonderful Sunday evening concert organised by two shining lights of the Society in Stuart Lowther and Lewis Clifton. The whole was stunningly good although John's show on Saturday had enormous difficulties to overcome and whilst from a technology point of view it was less than perfect, from a George Formby point of view it was brilliant!

A VIP VISITOR

For this second and final meeting of 2021, the room was again not full but a 'decent' attendance on both days ensured a good atmosphere. Far more seats than customers but in the present climate, that of course is no bad thing. As usual, after the meeting and greeting of members, Saturday afternoon got down to the serious business of members entertaining members. Then around 3 pm, the Mayor arrived. Zoom members will remember Councillor Cross from when we celebrated 365 sessions of the Zoom Virtual Thrash. Over one hundred and seventy screens were on display on that special evening and Amy was present on one of them. On that occasion, she spoke to the assembled company and promised to attend a Blackpool convention whenever that day might arrive and of course, when it was safe to do so. On Saturday afternoon Blackpool's Lord Mayor kept that promise. Not only did she keep that promise she also awarded two Honorary Memberships to Matthew Richards and Dale Norman.

NEW HONORARY MEMBERS

Matthew joined the GFS in November 2003 and by the Summer convention of 2007, he was one of the keyboard players at the Blackpool meetings. Since then he has made the position his own, it was his backing that we used for rehearsals for the Royal Albert Hall meeting in 2018. He plays a very important role in the Virtual Thrash Team and his video editing creative skills ensured that the GFS and the Zoom members enjoyed immense national publicity during the 2020 lockdown. He also helps run the Stourbridge branch of the Society. His backing tracks are very popular with all, it goes without saying that his talent on the piano and keyboards knows no bounds. Dale Norman joined the Society in July 1998 and one year later he was assisting Mike Kitts in the drumming duties in the GFS band. Twenty- two years later Dale is still there, drumming in the band! Dale is well known (and well-liked) at many of the GFS branches and a loyal supporter of the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle. These were two well-deserved awards that delighted the whole assembly

A JOHN WALLEY SPECIAL PRESENTATION

Saturday evening was the time to remember George and Beryl Formby with a show created by John Walley, the man who goes right back to the beginning of our Society. Assisted by performing members, John told the always fascinating story of George and Beryl to commemorate the sixty years since the death of George and the formation of the GFS. Computer-generated images and videos were used to illustrate John's always interesting words. This eighty-minute show was originally planned for the September 2021 convention but because of the national pandemic crisis, was postponed until this weekend. The rooms that the Society use at the Imperial Hotel are just that, rooms. The only times that the Society has enjoyed an actual theatre experience for the conventions was in the days of our stay at The Winter Gardens where lighting and sound equipment was available within some of the many rooms that we used. At the Imperial, lighting and sound equipment has to be brought in for every meeting. Normally the room we use will have been a dining room the day before or used for a wedding or other of the many functions that a busy hotel needs to host to stay in business. For our meetings, we convert it to a theatre as best as we can. There is never any time or opportunity to rehearse special shows like Saturday evenings. We just turn up, do our best to plan what goes on and hope that "it'll be alright on the night". This time the performers all did their stuff and John Walley's knowledge is never anything but deeply interesting for any lover of Beryl and George and their world. Sadly, the technical issues involved in using a very ancient projector for the content to illustrate the show, together with lighting that had to be turned down to allow the screen to be viewed meant that the show was not seen at its best. I own up to not making all the right decisions but with literally only a few minutes to get everything ready after the cinema, there just was not enough time to get everything prepared as it should be. The performing artists should have been at the side of the stage or the projector should have been at the side, but not the two mixed together. Sound issues for which Kevin and Cathy Staniland, Jim Makin and myself worked right up until 9 pm on Friday to sort out is evidence that we all did our best to present the best possible show on Saturday. Future presentations of this nature need time within the room to prepare and plan just what is required to get the best that we can, under the exact lighting to be used on the day. That is almost impossible to achieve since the room can change and the lighting is never guaranteed to be the same for every meeting. My involvement in this show allows me to be slightly critical and say that with hindsight, it could have looked better.

THE SUNDAY EVENING CONCERT

Sunday evenings for many years was always the time for Gerry Mawdley to organise the evening concert. Something that he could do with style and humour which must have made many members wonder just what would happen after his retirement as President was announced at the September meeting. In the two conventions that we have held since our last meeting in November 2019, two of the brightest lights within the GFS have taken control of the organisation of Sunday evenings and have also introduced the players with skill and a great sense of humour. Lewis Clifton and Stuart Lowther must now have made their position as Sunday evening hosts, unassailable. Sunday night’s show was one full of so many memories generated by these two handsome lads and also, full of memories generated by so many of our performing members. It is always the lowest attendance of the weekend with many members making the journey home again but since we re- started the conventions after such a long layoff, the Sunday shows have been up there with the best of times that anyone can remember. I congratulate Lewis and Stuart for all they do for the GFS, their playing skills are the envy of all and it is to characters like these two that the GFS must look to in the future to ensure that we can survive and prosper.

SO MANY HELPERS

So many people do their best to help make the weekend memorable for all, the majority are not committee members but just people who wish to help. One vital role is that of making sure the microphones are always disinfected and covers on mics replaced after every performer. Johnny Key travels to every convention from the London area and is always on hand to do whatever is needed in the stage area. Jim Makin is always there to show the two films that we always view on every convention weekend. Johnny Key's London mate, Ray Reynolds was all over this convention with his sessions as Master of Ceremonies, his song and dance routine and his hilarious monkey ventriloquism act, not forgetting his Formby contribution with Johnny. These two lads are always well received on the GFS stage. Kevin and Cathy Staniland came for the weekend, this was their first convention back after Kevin contracted the virus in September. He and Cathy worked all weekend on the sound desk and also spent most of Friday afternoon and evening getting everything prepared for the two following days. Their contribution was invaluable and they are both great entertainers as well and helped to make the Sunday night concert the success that it was. To all those ladies and gents who played their part on and off the stage and not forgetting Steve and Sue in the shop and the shop ladies Dolwyn and Kathryn and of course regular photographer Gill Walley, I say to one and all, a massive thank you for ensuring once again that a weekend with the GFS in Blackpool is an absolute, unforgettable pleasure.

MEETING THE MAYOR

After our dear Lord Mayor, Amy Cross, awarded the two honorary memberships, four of the five people involved in the Zoom Virtual Thrash group were invited on stage to meet the Mayor and take a well-earned round of applause from an appreciative audience. These people have kept the GFS light shining brightly when all around was quite dark and this, for many months during the lockdown. The VT group have earned all the applause and plaudits for their efforts throughout these dark times, they have found new members, raised funds in the GFS Shop for the sale of songbooks and have kept many GFS members happily playing each week for getting on for two years. Our new President, Andy Poppleton, is a Zoom regular whenever his busy professional working life will allow, as is our Chairman, Steve Langford. Committee member Joe Sadler is also a regular. We have had two conventions but the future is still very uncertain. The news of the new "Omicron" variant is not welcome at all and no one can foretell what the future holds for us. This latest news tells me that the Virtual Thrash gang will be with us for a very long time and perhaps will now be a permanent fixture, pulling in members and potential members who live in out of the way places or even from foreign locations. So, well done Zoomers and keep up the good work!

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE

Let me close on a brighter note by saying that February is not that far away when if all goes to plan, we shall be back in Blackpool once again. We have a new President and a new committee who from what I can gather, are intent on re-building the GFS and making some changes that will ensure that the Society will enjoy a bright and healthy future as well as a glorious past. The lighting in September was a disaster for anyone shooting video but congratulations to Andy Poppleton and his committee. Andy said he would fix the lighting and he did! The members need to support the committee in any way that they can and the best way is to pay subscriptions promptly and perhaps spread the word that The George Formby Society is here to stay! Peter Pollard 02/12/2021
Photo by Gill Walley
MATT & DALE RECEIVE THE HIGHEST HONOUR OF ALL
JOHN WALLEY NARRATES THE FORMBY STORY
THE AUDIENCE ENJOY THE SATURDAY NIGHT CONCERT
RAY AND JOHNNY DOING WHAT THEY DO BEST - ENTERTAIN!
LEWIS CLIFTON AND STUART LOWTHER - SUNDAY NIGHT HOSTS

SECOND MEETING OF 2021

The second convention of 2021 ended in what can only be described as a triumph for the GFS members and committee. Two brilliant days within the Washington Suite at The Imperial Hotel, a special John Walley production on Saturday evening, a visit from The Mayor of Blackpool and to close the weekend, a wonderful Sunday evening concert organised by two shining lights of the Society in Stuart Lowther and Lewis Clifton. The whole was stunningly good although John's show on Saturday had enormous difficulties to overcome and whilst from a technology point of view it was less than perfect, from a George Formby point of view it was brilliant!

A VIP VISITOR

For this second and final meeting of 2021, the room was again not full but a 'decent' attendance on both days ensured a good atmosphere. Far more seats than customers but in the present climate, that of course is no bad thing. As usual, after the meeting and greeting of members, Saturday afternoon got down to the serious business of members entertaining members. Then around 3 pm, the Mayor arrived. Zoom members will remember Councillor Cross from when we celebrated 365 sessions of the Zoom Virtual Thrash. Over one hundred and seventy screens were on display on that special evening and Amy was present on one of them. On that occasion, she spoke to the assembled company and promised to attend a Blackpool convention whenever that day might arrive and of course, when it was safe to do so. On Saturday afternoon Blackpool's Lord Mayor kept that promise. Not only did she keep that promise she also awarded two Honorary Memberships to Matthew Richards and Dale Norman.

NEW HONORARY MEMBERS

Matthew joined the GFS in November 2003 and by the Summer convention of 2007, he was one of the keyboard players at the Blackpool meetings. Since then he has made the position his own, it was his backing that we used for rehearsals for the Royal Albert Hall meeting in 2018. He plays a very important role in the Virtual Thrash Team and his video editing creative skills ensured that the GFS and the Zoom members enjoyed immense national publicity during the 2020 lockdown. He also helps run the Stourbridge branch of the Society. His backing tracks are very popular with all, it goes without saying that his talent on the piano and keyboards knows no bounds. Dale Norman joined the Society in July 1998 and one year later he was assisting Mike Kitts in the drumming duties in the GFS band. Twenty-two years later Dale is still there, drumming in the band! Dale is well known (and well-liked) at many of the GFS branches and a loyal supporter of the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle. These were two well-deserved awards that delighted the whole assembly

A JOHN WALLEY SPECIAL PRESENTATION

Saturday evening was the time to remember George and Beryl Formby with a show created by John Walley, the man who goes right back to the beginning of our Society. Assisted by performing members, John told the always fascinating story of George and Beryl to commemorate the sixty years since the death of George and the formation of the GFS. Computer-generated images and videos were used to illustrate John's always interesting words. This eighty-minute show was originally planned for the September 2021 convention but because of the national pandemic crisis, was postponed until this weekend. The rooms that the Society use at the Imperial Hotel are just that, rooms. The only times that the Society has enjoyed an actual theatre experience for the conventions was in the days of our stay at The Winter Gardens where lighting and sound equipment was available within some of the many rooms that we used. At the Imperial, lighting and sound equipment has to be brought in for every meeting. Normally the room we use will have been a dining room the day before or used for a wedding or other of the many functions that a busy hotel needs to host to stay in business. For our meetings, we convert it to a theatre as best as we can. There is never any time or opportunity to rehearse special shows like Saturday evenings. We just turn up, do our best to plan what goes on and hope that "it'll be alright on the night". This time the performers all did their stuff and John Walley's knowledge is never anything but deeply interesting for any lover of Beryl and George and their world. Sadly, the technical issues involved in using a very ancient projector for the content to illustrate the show, together with lighting that had to be turned down to allow the screen to be viewed meant that the show was not seen at its best. I own up to not making all the right decisions but with literally only a few minutes to get everything ready after the cinema, there just was not enough time to get everything prepared as it should be. The performing artists should have been at the side of the stage or the projector should have been at the side, but not the two mixed together. Sound issues for which Kevin and Cathy Staniland, Jim Makin and myself worked right up until 9 pm on Friday to sort out is evidence that we all did our best to present the best possible show on Saturday. Future presentations of this nature need time within the room to prepare and plan just what is required to get the best that we can, under the exact lighting to be used on the day. That is almost impossible to achieve since the room can change and the lighting is never guaranteed to be the same for every meeting. My involvement in this show allows me to be slightly critical and say that with hindsight, it could have looked better.

THE SUNDAY EVENING CONCERT

Sunday evenings for many years was always the time for Gerry Mawdley to organise the evening concert. Something that he could do with style and humour which must have made many members wonder just what would happen after his retirement as President was announced at the September meeting. In the two conventions that we have held since our last meeting in November 2019, two of the brightest lights within the GFS have taken control of the organisation of Sunday evenings and have also introduced the players with skill and a great sense of humour. Lewis Clifton and Stuart Lowther must now have made their position as Sunday evening hosts, unassailable. Sunday night’s show was one full of so many memories generated by these two handsome lads and also, full of memories generated by so many of our performing members. It is always the lowest attendance of the weekend with many members making the journey home again but since we re-started the conventions after such a long layoff, the Sunday shows have been up there with the best of times that anyone can remember. I congratulate Lewis and Stuart for all they do for the GFS, their playing skills are the envy of all and it is to characters like these two that the GFS must look to in the future to ensure that we can survive and prosper.

SO MANY HELPERS

So many people do their best to help make the weekend memorable for all, the majority are not committee members but just people who wish to help. One vital role is that of making sure the microphones are always disinfected and covers on mics replaced after every performer. Johnny Key travels to every convention from the London area and is always on hand to do whatever is needed in the stage area. Jim Makin is always there to show the two films that we always view on every convention weekend. Johnny Key's London mate, Ray Reynolds was all over this convention with his sessions as Master of Ceremonies, his song and dance routine and his hilarious monkey ventriloquism act, not forgetting his Formby contribution with Johnny. These two lads are always well received on the GFS stage. Kevin and Cathy Staniland came for the weekend, this was their first convention back after Kevin contracted the virus in September. He and Cathy worked all weekend on the sound desk and also spent most of Friday afternoon and evening getting everything prepared for the two following days. Their contribution was invaluable and they are both great entertainers as well and helped to make the Sunday night concert the success that it was. To all those ladies and gents who played their part on and off the stage and not forgetting Steve and Sue in the shop and the shop ladies Dolwyn and Kathryn and of course regular photographer Gill Walley, I say to one and all, a massive thank you for ensuring once again that a weekend with the GFS in Blackpool is an absolute, unforgettable pleasure.

MEETING THE MAYOR

After our dear Lord Mayor, Amy Cross, awarded the two honorary memberships, four of the five people involved in the Zoom Virtual Thrash group were invited on stage to meet the Mayor and take a well-earned round of applause from an appreciative audience. These people have kept the GFS light shining brightly when all around was quite dark and this, for many months during the lockdown. The VT group have earned all the applause and plaudits for their efforts throughout these dark times, they have found new members, raised funds in the GFS Shop for the sale of songbooks and have kept many GFS members happily playing each week for getting on for two years. Our new President, Andy Poppleton, is a Zoom regular whenever his busy professional working life will allow, as is our Chairman, Steve Langford. Committee member Joe Sadler is also a regular. We have had two conventions but the future is still very uncertain. The news of the new "Omicron" variant is not welcome at all and no one can foretell what the future holds for us. This latest news tells me that the Virtual Thrash gang will be with us for a very long time and perhaps will now be a permanent fixture, pulling in members and potential members who live in out of the way places or even from foreign locations. So, well done Zoomers and keep up the good work!

ON A BRIGHTER NOTE

Let me close on a brighter note by saying that February is not that far away when if all goes to plan, we shall be back in Blackpool once again. We have a new President and a new committee who from what I can gather, are intent on re-building the GFS and making some changes that will ensure that the Society will enjoy a bright and healthy future as well as a glorious past. The lighting in September was a disaster for anyone shooting video but congratulations to Andy Poppleton and his committee. Andy said he would fix the lighting and he did! The members need to support the committee in any way that they can and the best way is to pay subscriptions promptly and perhaps spread the word that The George Formby Society is here to stay! Peter Pollard 02/12/2021
Photo by Gill Walley
MATT & DALE RECEIVE THE HIGHEST HONOUR OF ALL
JOHN WALLEY NARRATES THE FORMBY STORY
THE AUDIENCE ENJOY THE SATURDAY NIGHT CONCERT
RAY AND JOHNNY DOING WHAT THEY DO BEST - ENTERTAIN!
NOVEMBER 2021
LEWIS CLIFTON AND STUART LOWTHER - SUNDAY NIGHT HOSTS