september 2021


Finally, after such a long gap, easily the longest in our 60-year history, we returned to Blackpool to the Imperial Hotel to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the birth of our Society. Most certainly it was not the best attended September meeting but that was probably a good thing as there were gaps in the audience for people to stay a safe distance should they wish to. Many members arrived on Friday and greetings between happy convention-goers abounded! Once we were able to enter the Lancastrian Suite on Saturday morning, many more people arrived and it was so nice to meet with old friends once again and also to renew acquaintances with many from the Zoom sessions. Once the music started, it was like we have never been away!


Our Chairman, Steve Langford has proved his worth on many occasions, but this weekend was significant for him on many levels. It was the first convention for Steve and his wife Su in their management of the Society shop and with the assistance of Dolwyn Shone and Kathryn Pollard, everything went quite smoothly. Steve and Su have introduced various new items to the shop and have also made available card payments which must be so useful.


On Saturday evening, founder member John Walley gave a moving 15-minute speech all about the history, the people and the times of the GFS.


Steve ran the AGM in the best tradition of the GFS and even introduced an Any Other Business session which has not been seen for many years. This was a welcome feature of the Sunday morning meeting and now will hopefully stay for the foreseeable future. There was not one problem as obviously Steve kept a tight hold on the questions and did not let the clock or the members take control of this part of the meeting.


Congratulations must go to the new President of the GFS, Andrew Poppleton who was successful in a two-candidate election with a previous Chair of the GFS, Caroline Stewart. Andy delivered what I believe (sadly I could not hear one word of the whole meeting!) must have been a very stirring, emotional filled speech after his election victory. Andy must be one of the youngest President’s that we have had. His love of George Formby and the Society puts him firmly in place to get the GFS back to former glories. I am sure that Andy and his committee will have much to do before September 2022 is here. Other new committee faces are Claire Rolfe taking on the job of Secretary, Cassie Morris-Dalton as Assistant Treasurer, Dennis Lee making a welcome return to the committee as Vice President, the ever-popular Lewis Clifton as Assistant Chairman and Jay Taylor coming in to make his début as Committee member. The next year will soon pass and if anything is to change, in the short term it must be a vote at the AGM for every member of the Society. Surely after 60 years, it is time to put the practice of only been allowed to vote at the September convention to the sword.


All weekend we had great entertainment from all the players and of course with the Davies Sisters, Andy Eastwood, Lewis Clifton, Matt Richards, Stuart Lowther and so many more, how could we go wrong? It was fantastic! The fact that Andy Eastwood is now a resident of Blackpool must mean that when his professional engagements will allow, Andy will be with us as he was for all this weekend. All the entertainment was made possible by many volunteers. Especially Joe Sadler on the sound desk and in particular, Johnny Key who worked tirelessly all weekend ensuring that the microphones were clean for each performer and situated at the correct angle and in the right position. With members like these, the GFS is in a good place.


On a personal note, my weekend was as ever, busy but always interesting, shooting video and taking photographs for this page and the magazine, should editor Tony Thornton require any. I also had the thrill of playing on both evenings with two of the best players that the GFS can offer in Stuart Lowther and Lewis Clifton. They are such good friends to me, the best of men. What a privilege and a total treat for me, with such hearing issues, to be able to take to the stage with such confidence, knowing that I was playing with two of the best! Just 65 days (as I write) until we do it all again in November. We still have to take so much care and at times this weekend I felt quite nervous but having the vaccine and knowing that booster jabs are coming soon, must give us the hope and belief that we can continue to get our lives back to something like normal and get the GFS back to the healthy state that it enjoyed before the pandemic. PP 15.09.2021
johnny key - a tireless worker for the gfs