By George, it’s lights and action...

Members of the George Formby Society celebrating its Golden Jubilee by switching on the Illuminations outisde of the Imperial hotel, Blackpool
Members of the George Formby Society celebrating its Golden Jubilee by switching on the Illuminations outisde of the Imperial hotel, Blackpool
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Turned out nice again!

Blackpool came alive with colour when the George Formby Society played their way into town for their own Illuminations Switch-On.

Hundreds of Formby fans descended on the Promenade’s Imperial Hotel to celebrate their golden jubilee and 50 years since their ukulele-wielding hero’s death.

And for founder member John Walley, 67, there was no better way to celebrate the life of the society and the film star – who performed the Switch-On himself in 1953.

Mr Walley, of Stoke-On-Trent, said: “It is an absolute honour switching the Lights on. I was not told it would be my pleasure until this evening, it was a secret.

“It is exactly 50 years to the day the society formed following a notice in The Stage magazine after George’s death.

“A gentleman named George Wilson was calling for all people who admired George to meet in Blackpool to form an appreciation society.

“I was a huge fan of him because despite his wealth and fame he never lost the common touch, he was just as happy performing in Blackpool as he was on stage at the London Palladium or the West End.”

The society – which meets four times a year in the seaside town – is not a dwindling group, in fact it has more members now than at any time since 1961, when George died and it was founded.

Gerry Mawdsley, president of the society, said: “Would you believe there are 1,200 members now, it shows the appeal George has.

“And the group has always loved coming to Blackpool, it’s where he lived and it is a special place for us.

“It is a momentous occasion switching the Lights on, especially at the Imperial Hotel which is where the society held their first ever meeting.”

Among the ukulele playing revellers, 15-year-old Saul Whittle, from Salford, who was born years after the star’s death, is a huge Formby fan.

He said: “We were doing a project at school about wartime entertainment and we watched some videos of George performing.

“I was mesmerised by him and decided to join the society. I have only been playing the ukulele for a year but I really enjoy it.”

A Blackpool Council spokesman said: “It has been nice to work with them when they are in town and to give them the opportunity to switch the Lights on.”