MILL HILL, SEPTEMBER 19
Mill Hill and Liverpool - pics courtesy of Kevin Summerfield, Rob Dee, Jean Todd, Marie Richardson, Paul Staiens and Colin Paul.
Colin Paul reports:
What a fantastic two days it's been for Billy Fury fans, to celebrate the music and life of the UK's greatest rocker.
In Liverpool on Saturday the sun was shining and well over a hundred people gathered at the statue.
With Billy's voice in the air and the arrival of Jean it was an amazing day.
The statue was covered in cards, balloons and flowers, a truly awesome thing to see.
Unfortunately Albie couldn't be there but he was remembered by everyone who also send him their very best wishes.
Radio Merseyside's Frankie Conner arrived and said he had just finished his show and played many Billy songs and also paid tribute to another legend - Eddie Cochran, whose tragic death was remembered 50 years on. Frankie also said he did a live interview on air with Albie on the phone and after the show commented on nearly 60 emails from all over the world had arrived to wish Albie and Jean all the best.
We all gathered in the Maritime Museum for entertainment, refreshments and talk of our memories of Billy. The Billy Fury In Thoughts Of You an club had their memorabilia stall set up with some fantastic 70th birthday T-shirts designed by Vic. Well done mate on a superb job. A special thanks to Mags and Margaret and an extra special thanks to Jenny for arranging the whole day, with many problems on the way, with let's say plenty of chiefs and not enough indians at the museum.
Rules and regulations were coming out of the walls, so well done Jenny and the hard task you pulled off perfectly.
Jean spoke to everyone and thanked them for being there and sang a moving In Thoughts Of You. Excellent.I The raffle was held for Jean's special charity Nobody's Child.
Many thanks to everyone who sang for us including Creeping Bentgrass, with on a cracking version of Like I've Never Been Gone.
Special thanks to Monica for coming over from Ireland by boat as we all know of the volcanic ash disruption to aircraft.
B 5pm we were all leaving the building with gifts from the fan club. [Thanks for the Billy Fury teddy bear for Grace, she love it.]
I had to be in bolton for 6pm for a gig with the Persuaders. To our supprise a coach load from Barnsley turned up, as they had been in Liverpool during the day for the festivities and special thanks to Lil, Pete, Phil and Wendy for being their too.
We carried on with a great tribute to Billy and Eddie Cochran. The club was packed and everybody [non- fans] became a little bit more aware of Billy and his music.
By 2.30 am it was time for some sleep. Soon it was 7am alarm going off and time to get ready for Mill Hill. Left at 9am kissing Sarahlea and our other alarm Grace [lol] goodbye and arriving at Billy's grave around 12.30.
After paying my respect to the main man it was off to the hall where i was greeted by Rob Dee, Johnny Red and Chris Eley.
This time were were in the big room and wow what a turn out. As Kevin pointed out [good to see you mate] on another thread the atmosphere was electric.
Another sunny day, the sounds of Billy and meeting up with many old friends and making new ones.
The Sound Of Fury fan club stall was set up and the stage was ready, Ken and Cecilia Darvell keeping me supplied with tea [perfect].
My good buddy Johnny Red entertained with a great tribute to Billy, with many people smiling and singing along it was great to see.
Soon it was time for another pro and friend, Mr Rob Dee again paying a great tribute to our Billy.
My old mate Chris Eley took to the stage and thanked everybody for coming.
An auction was held for Alder Hey Hospital with some fantastic framed photos of Billy, including a picture I had never seen before.
The raffle was held and Chris thanked everybody for coming, including Lisa Voice, who made a surprise appearance. She took to the microphone and thanked everybody for coming and keeping Billy's memory alive.
Soon it was time for yours truly, with a mixture of songs including Billy's Be Mine Tonight, Lady and In Thoughts Of You among others. It was a pleasure to ask Johnny, Rob and Daniel to share the stage with me for the last song. Thanks guys for all you do.
No politics, just fans of Billy Fury having a great time among friends and keeping the legacy alive. I had to leave soon after, has I had a meeting first thing in the morning and then had leave for Nottingham for an Elvis gospel show at St Mary's Church, Eastwood.
I can truly say on both days I had a great time.
A big thank you to those that were in Liverpool and Mill Hill including
Michelle, Andy and Elena and to John. On both days Billy Fury birthday cakes
were made and birthday cards. It was very special.
John Burke reports:
Yesterday found us out at the Billy Fury event in
Liverpool. 17 April 2010 would have been Billy's 70th birthday but for the
tragedy of his early death in 1983.
Billy's birthday cake
Pat Young at the grave
Rob Dee (left) and Colin Paul
Jean Todd and Pat Young at the party The SoF fan club stand
Chris Eley of the Sound Of Fury fan club and Billy's partner, Lisa Voice.
Report by Kevin Summerfield.
What an amazing day - in more ways than one!
More pics from statue meeting
Mill Hill - pics courtesy of Rob Dee
It was sunny here in Northants when I left for the Mill Hill meet but I had been told the weather wasn't going to be good for the day so went armed with my Billy brolly.
A45 then M1 and 67 miles later I arrived at the gates, turned left and noticed Rob, Chris and Pat on the way out so stopped to say a quick: "Hi" through our car windows and said we would meet up in a while.
As I had arrived a little late quite a few had already gone to the hall.
I pulled up at Billy's resting place to find there were a few familiar faces there, including Johnny Red, who had a big hug from me.
I placed my flowers and card from us all at billybury.com for Billy, took a few photos but it was too cold, rainy and windy to stay there too long so drove down to the hall.
The first people I met at the hall were the lovely Cecilia and Ken. I always have to give them a cuddle as I don't see them very often and it's always great to see them.
Next was the gorgeous Paul Staines and a little later the lovely Bruce, Diana, Lisa and the adorable little Billy, Pat, Rob, Chris and a few more familiar faces.
Ken gave Chris Eley's apologies for not attending and then over to Rob Dee for some excellent entertainment. He started with Maybe Tomorrow then In Summer and new to Rob, Stick Around. Rob got a few up to sing - Paul sang In Thoughts Of You and bought the house down with his The Wonder Of You. Everyone was singing and swaying along.
Next up was Bruce with Like I've Never Been Gone (one of my favs) and Once Upon A Dream. Steve gave us his renditions of Last Night Was Made For Love and When Will You Say I Love You - brilliant - then we persuaded Johnny Red to give us a couple of songs. He started with Gonna Type A Letter' then Don't knock Upon My Door with the gorgeous Harley dancing alongside Johnny. What a little mover.
Then back to Rob who introduced his granddaughter Hannah, who sang Chantilly Lace. Great little voice, well done Hannah, such a brave little girl.
Rob sang Don't Throw Your Love Away, It's Only Make Believe (Pat's favourite) and Sleepless Nights. Absolutely fab Rob - thanks.
We were all shouting to get Johnny Red to do a Shaky number as he does a Shaky and Billy tribute. He never let us down with A Love Worth Waiting For - brilliant.
Harley was up jiving with a lady. What a great little mover, this Lad will go far.
Rob did My Advice and HTP and made this day so special with the entertainment. (It must have been good - I never went out for a ciggy . lol.)
In the raffle, Paul won the Classics & Collectables CD and gave it to me (thanks Paul). I won a box of Ferrero Rocher and gave them to Paul (Paul had won some a year ago when we first met and gave them to me.)
The food looked nice on the table. Thanks to the ladies for the tea, it was most welcome.
The auction was a Billy piccy, a Billy piccy with a 45 record in a frame and a Merseyside CD given by Frankie Connor and signed by the artists.
Cecilia did the memorabillia stall as usual and managed to get me to buy a Billy carrier bag for 50p.
It was one of the besy Mill Hill meets I have been to. Thanks to all the friends/singers who really made it a special day. Goodbyes are always hard but it was time to go. It was just so nice to see the lovely Pat as we don't see enough of each other. Paul and I went to the pub/restaurant by the roundabout for a juicy steak and a lovely chat by the fire. We were frozen as we had been standing outside the hall for ages saying our goodbyes to all our friends and chatting with Bruce and Diane. I met the lovely Sarah from the message board.
Then my drive home feeling very very happy and waiting for the next meet-up. Thanks Paul and everyone for a wonderful day.
APRIL 15, 2007 (In Thoughts Of You Club)
APRIL 15, 2007 (Sound Of Fury Club)
Rob Dee reports..
It was another memorable day at Mill Hill. The sun shone down for our Billy and lots of fans old and new turned up, here are a few memories of the day.
Arrived at 12.50 to find a handful of people chatting around the grave, it was obvious that someone had spent some time tidying up the grave as it looked wonderful. (sorry Moya your flower pot was missing)
By 1.30 a lot more people had turned up and lots more flowers had been laid down on the grave. we stayed until about 2 pm and then made our way down to the hall, the place was quite full by now with Cecelia and Linda on the memorabilia stall and Billy singing on the cd player. The lady making the tea done a great job and there was plenty to eat including Rita's world famous home made cakes.
The raffle prizes were laid out on the table, some nice pics of Billy and chocolate etc, then a disaster struck, there were no raffle tickets, with some hard work from some fans some homemade tickets were made and the raffle went ahead.
A clock that Pat had
donated went for auction and it was won by George and Barbera from Southend,
money donated to go to Johnny Red's Horses Charity.
Chris Eley made some speeches about the new DVD and mentioned fans who could not attend through illness, he then asked me if I would supply the entertainment, this I was proud to do and had brought along my small P A (just in case)
It was great to see my mate Pierre turn up, and also a policeman and woman, who Pat thought was going to give her a parking ticket, but were only looking at the stickers in her car window.
I got everyone going with a few of Billy's hits, Then asked young Joey Frescoe if he would sing a song for us, he is only eight years old but already a big Billy fan, he sung "It's Only Make Believe" note perfect and got a well deserved reception from the fans, well done Joey.
It was great to see Kevin there and after his suprise performance at the Sunnyside, I asked him to sing a song for us, he obliged with a stunning version of "Maybe Tomorrow" well done Kevin and thanks for the cd.
I then noticed that Chris Eley was itching to give us all a song and turned in a great performance of "Fools Errand".
Time was getting on and it
was soon time to go we finished off with " Forget Him" and everyone on
their feet and holding hands for "Halfway To Paradise"
We said our goodbyes and made our way home, sorry we missed you Bruce. maybe we will see you in October.
Hope everyone in Liverpool had a great day as well.
OCTOBER 15, 2006 (Sound Of Fury Club)
Pictures by Rob Dee
SEPTEMBER 17, 2006 (BFITOY CLUB)
Pictures by Marie Richardson, report by Cathy Homann
Top: Floral tributes.
Centre: Jenny Warwick auctions a portrait.
Above: John Allison with Mrs Jean Wycherley.
Jean, Marie, Sophie and myself left in plenty of time to get there early until we hit the holdup on the MI at Luton. We were at a standstill for over half an hour.
When we arrived we went straight to Billy's resting place.
As usual all the wonderful friends I have met over the years where there and it was nice to see Billy's grave looking so clean and cared for.
While we were getting the flowers for Billy out of the boot of the car a gentleman walked up and said: "I am John Allison from The Allisons."
Well, I was chuffed to meet him as only last week I had bought the 45 record from Ebay of Are You Sure, a song that I remembered from the Eurovision song contest in 1961 and had once owned.
We paid our respects to Billy and then Jean Wycherley arrived with Ray and Jeannie.
Then off to the hall for our usual get together.
The first person we saw as we walked into the hallway that I had not met before was Pierre playing his usual jokes and pretending to be someone else (Michael).
The hall was full and Margaret Dewick was busy making the tea and coffee.
I stood in while Margaret had a break, It's hard work in the tearoom.
There was an auction of a lovely painting of Billy's face and I went in late and had a limit. Sadly I didn't win it but was thrilled it went to a younger couple. They said they would hang it over their fireplace with love and pride.
Jean signed the back. What a lovely piece of memorabilia for them.
There was plenty of lovely food on the table - enough to feed an army.
There were the usual memorabilia stalls and Vic had his Billy CD stall.
John Allison did a questions and answers session and played his guitar.
We joined in with Are You Sure.
Plenty of friends to chat to and before we knew it the lovely day was over, so back on the M1 for home.
Only a month before Sophie and I go back for the next meeting.
APRIL 17, 2006 (BFITOY CLUB)
Report and pics by Mags Cummings
(Reproduced from the billyfury.com message board, which was reproduced in turn from the BFITOY website.)
Around 60 fans gathered at Billy's statue remember Billy on his 66th birthday and many placed flowers on the plinth. Billy's mum Jean and brother Albie were there and thanked all the fans for coming and for keeping Billy's name alive.
A reporter and photographer from the Liverpool Echo was there and interviewed Jean.
Jean announced the new BFITOY charity Nobody's
Child. Everyone sang Happy Birthday before leaving the windswept waterfront for the sanctuary of The Pumphouse where BFITOY held it's 1st birthday meeting in a private room upstairs kindly supplied free of charge.
The room was decorated with balloons and BFITOY provided a memorabilia stall with CDs, photos, and many more Billy Fury goodies' which was very popular. Billy Fury songs were played all afternoon by VIc who had brought along his CD player.
Jenny Warwick welcomed everyone to the meeting and people chatted to old and new friends before the auction of a picture kindly donated by a fan which raised £40.
This was followed by Jean Wycherley's raffle which raised a good sum of money (to be advised) for the fan club charities.
Jean and Albie were presented with Billy Fury decorated plates as a thank you for their input into BFITOY in their respective capacities as Honorary President and Patron. They are both greatly loved by the fans and were happy to supply autographs and have photos taken with them all afternoon.
Frankie Connor from BBC Radio Merseyside came along directly after his show wearing a Billy Fury tee shirt, he's a great fan of Billy playing his songs regularly on his shows. He's a real character and added to the friendly atmosphere.
The meeting was declared a huge success by all and the venue was ideal, where people could get food and drink and socialise in a very pleasant environment.
Special thanks to Di Vickers who stayed by the statue, telling people about Billy, attempting to recruit new fan club members and directing fans to the meeting place.
(Read more in the fan club newsletter)
JANUARY 28, 2006. (BFITOY CLUB)
The photographs below, by Mags Cummings, appear on the BFITOY website, thebillyfuryfanclub.com
A few of us gathered at Billy's statue to pay our respects on the 23rd anniversary of his death. Jean Wycherley was there along with John and Mags, Jean Todd and Di and Ann Vickers.
Fran and her grandson had been there earlier and Jean T had a chat with them.
There was a beautiful display of yellow roses already there, left by Veronica and her friends.
Jean T left flowers on behalf of Cathy and
Sophie, Babs and Marguerite and also brought along a beautiful poem written by Marguerite. I left some red roses on behalf of the BFITOY fan club.
During our visit many people who had come to see the museum also came to look at the statue and were thrilled to find that Billy's mum was there. All of them said how much they loved Billy and his music and were interested in hearing how his fans had raised the money for the statue.
We went to the Pumphouse pub for lunch and I can highly recommend it as the venue for our meeting together in April after seeing Billy on his birthday on Easter Monday. - Mags Cummings
OCTOBER 16, 2005, MILL HILL (SOUNDS OF FURY CLUB)
About 40 people attended, on a very sunny
day. Among them were Rob Dee and Chris with Pat, Bob Paskins and his wife,
and Clare and Maureen, former members of the SoF syndicate. - CD
SEPTEMBER 26, 2005, MILL HILL (BFITOY CLUB)
Photos and report by Bruce Baker
It was touch or go in deepest darkest, rainy Derbyshire, but in the end I saddled up the Deauville and headed south on the dreaded M1 superslab.
The sun came out around Northampton and the day was pretty good from then on.
I spent an hour or so walking around the Battle of Britain hall at the RAF Museum and then on to Mill Hill.
I did not count, but there must have been around 30 of us at Billy's resting place to pay respects along with Jean and Albie.
After introduction, chats and photos, I wandered around a little looking at other memorials, a mini-cab stopped and the driver asked me where Billy's grave was. He then proceeded to drop off a couple and their luggage.
This turned out to be Jean Luc (Lucky) and his wife making a special visit to the grave on their way to Luton to fly back to their Paris home. Lucky has been a fan of Billy since he first heard him despite being only 13 when Billy died. He tells me that Billy has always had (and continues to have) a great following in France.
They were both made most welcome by everyone including Jean and Albie and must have gone home with fond memories (and lots of goodies) of Mill Hill.
I've send them some of my pics and links to this site and the BFITOY one etc.
(If anyone wishes to write to Lucky his email is firstname.lastname@example.org).
I managed to avoid the rush to the Church Hall and Cathy's welcome cuppas saved me from complete dehydration (thanks Cathy).
The hall was soon full and standing room only.
The new fan club and its budding constitution dominated the early proceedings but there was an overwhelming feeling of willingness to make it work to the good of the fans, for the fans and by the fans (apologies to the US constitution for that one).
There was an auction which I'll leave someone else to write about but I think it realised over £100 and Jean's raffle eventually raised a similar amount, all for the usual excellent causes.
There was an unusual presentation to Albie and Jean and sympathies over both their recent health problems. I can relate to Albie's kidney problems myself since the loss of a kidney put paid to my engineering and motorcycle racing careers in the mid 70s.
I subsequently did several charity bike rides in support of kidney charities so Jean's announcement that she had made substantial donations to those was also poingant.
I took the leisurely route back in lovely Autumn sunlight (apart from it being in my eyes that is) until the inevitable rain belt above Northampton - which is where I came in.
I've said this before and
I'll say it again (and probably again) there are so many nice, friendly people
around Billy's fan-scene, it's an honour to know you and to meet with you.
Looking forward to more of the same at Evesham.
APRIL 17, LIVERPOOL.
APRIL 17, MILL HILL.
On a very special day, which in fact would have been Billy Fury’s 65th
Birthday, the fans gathered once again at Paddington cemetery, Mill Hill in
order to pay their respects to a much missed artist.
Perhaps due to the simultaneous celebration of Billy’s life taking place over the weekend in Liverpool and culminating with a gathering at the statue on the Sunday, attendance at Mill Hill was modest for such an occasion.
About 44 fans were present at varying times throughout the beautiful sunny afternoon but the friendly atmosphere and sense of dedication was remarkable.
The grave was covered in flowers and dotted with 65th birthday cards containing very personal and extremely poignant messages.
Perhaps surprisingly in this day and age, a porcelain plate and laminated photos from previous gatherings still featured in the display.
Despite the problem of a lack of chairs, which to my knowledge is the first and
I do hope the last occasion it will happen, everybody piling into the hall was
full of the joys of spring and, as it transpired, generous to a fault.
The auction raised a nice little sum to be shared between the Stone Fund and the children’s ward of Alder Hey Hospital. Special thanks are due to so many fans present who generously contributed in some way to either the raffle, auction or otherwise helped the Fan Club on the day.
This included Joan Bilham, Janet Noyce, Bob Paskins, Pauline Barker, Tracey and Anthony Grist and Daniel Heeney (whose van lit up the street with the display of Billy, Elvis and Rock’n’Roll memorabilia).
Sadly Mary Burton was not well enough to travel down and help out as
always, with husband Dave, and we wish her a speedy recovery. It was nice to
so many familiar faces such as former friends and devoted fans of Billy’s,
Peter and Brenda Basnett, plus someone who never seems to miss, that mine of Billy information Roy Harvey.
Ken Hills, who spent some time with Billy, turned up for the first time I believe. It was also nice to see Mo Bowden who has done so much for Billy’s legacy as a former member of the Sound of Fury syndicate.
The highlight of the day was unquestionably the acoustic set by Bob Paskins,
former leader of The New Tornados during part of 1975 (not to be confused
with Fury’s Tornados performing today with Colin Gold and also backing
Billy around this time.)
Bob is a very generous and friendly no-edge guy who did such a lot to help the Bronze Fund.
The tribute, which included That’s Love, Once Upon A Dream, Last Night Was Made for Love and I Love How You Love Me was well and sincerely delivered with Bob’s humour and openness endearing everyone to him. He closed with his personal favourite, When Will You say I Love You.
It was extremely well received and followed by Danny Rivers, who, despite being unwell at present, accompanied by Bob delivered his usual, gutsy rendition of Little Sister. As an aside-Danny’s fine single, Can’t You Hear My Heart, was one of the first 45s that my other half, Linda, ever bought. Get well soon Danny and great to see you and Emily there.
Also present was Billy tribute artist Rob Dee, his wife Chris and their friend and Evesham’s biggest Billy fan, Pat Young.Rob joined Bob and delivered A Wondrous Place and It’s Only Make Believe, all of which went down well.
A pleasant surprise was Peter Basnett’s unaccompanied rendition of Nobody’s Child, which again was enjoyed by the fans present.
It goes without saying that every number was sung along to by just about everyone.
It was a low key, but warm and sincere tribute by all present, to their Billy.
Some folk, on leaving, said that it was the most enjoyable Mill Hill event they had ever attended, and this from persons attending since the early 1980s was heart-warming.
It probably won’t happen every time, perhaps devaluing the special feel of it were it to become habitual, but it’s possible that once a year at least it may occur.
Thanks are also due to the "kitchen staf’, Rita Smalley and friends and to Ken and Cecilia Darvell and anyone and everyone else who significantly contributed to the day and whom I may have missed.
This is the sort of warm and friendly atmosphere
that should exist wherever Billy fans gather. - Chris Eley. Picture by
JANUARY 30, 2005. Superb pictures by Mags from the meeting at the statue in Liverpool.
JANUARY 23, 2005: About 30 fans met at Billy's grave at Mill Hill to commemorate the anniversary of his death.
APRIL 17, 2004 Statue meeting: About 100 fans met at the Museum of Liverpool Life on Billy's birthday, Saturday April 17 at 2.30pm. Billy's mother, Mrs Jean Wycherley, and brother Albie were among those who attended. Later, at a meeting at the Maritime Museum, representatives of the Sound Of Fury fan club presented Mrs Wycherley with one of the bronze miniatures of the statue that have been produced by the sculptor, Tom Murphy. The pictures (left and below) are supplied by Ray and Jean Shenton.
APRIL 18, 2004 Mill Hill meeting: About 40 fans met as usual at Billy's grave in Mill Hill on Sunday April 18 at 1pm.Mill Hill gathering on Sunday 25 January 2004.
By Jenny Warwick
Fans gathered at the grave side from midday
onwards and flowers gathered.
It was good to see Peter Davies who has volunteered his services to help the
Sound of Fury team. Two ladies arrived just after one o'clock who had not
visited the grave before. They asked what they should do and if they could
attend the meeting at the church hall around the corner. They were welcomed
and driven to the meeting. It was later that they told of their "previous
lives'"as backing singers - sorry we did not get your names but you were
very welcome and hope to see you again.
Everyone made their way to the hall before the two most important ladies
bringing the tea and coffee arrived.
Having all queued up for hot drinks everyone began to feel a little warmer
as the heating in the hall was something to be desired. Promise to get this
sorted by the next meeting.
Sadly, Jean Wycherley and Albert could not make it due to poor health but we
were later to find they were doing their own thing in Liverpool. Well
done - a fantastic idea.
We were very pleased to be joined by Hal Carter who also has not been too
During the afternoon Hal sat and chatted with several fans and
bought one of the bronze busts made by Tom Murphy (bronze statue sculptor).
We were also joined by Bob and Sue Paskins who are now in the Legends band
and used to be the leader of The New Tornadoes backing Billy in 1975.
Thanks to all who attended - if only we had known there was another
gathering in Liverpool happening at the same time. Maybe we could have
arranged one of those TV link-ups.
Statue meet, Liverpool, 25 January 2004.
Report and pictures 1, 2, 3 and 4 by Ray and Jean Shenton. Pictures 5 and 6 by Jean Todd.
This was the weekend of the annual gathering at Mill Hill and Jean and I were going to escort Billy’s Mam.
Things could not go to plan as Mrs Wycherley was just getting over a very bad chest cold and on this occasion she did no feel quite well enough to travel to London so we chatted to her and Albert about it and Albert came up with the excellent Idea of holding an informal meeting at Billy’s statue in Liverpool for anyone who was unable to make the gathering in London.
Bear in mind that this was on Friday and we were to visit the statue two days later on the Sunday.
We then set about trying to let people know and first of all put it on Harry’s message board.
Quite a few people answered the call to say they thought it was a smashing Idea and would be there to pay our respects to Billy.
We would like to personally thank those people for attending at such short notice. Mags, Chris, Kat, Andy, Babs, Colin, Marie, Jean and Allen.
We also sent e-mails to Radio Merseyside and Radio Lancashire and would like to thank both stations for their numerous mentions of the last minute event.
We arrived at the Museum of Liverpool Life at 1pm as planned and were very pleased to see lots of people gathered in the entrance hall. J
ean and Albert arrived shortly after that with some friends, Lynne, Pete and Brenda and set about mingling and chatting to everyone.
At around 145pm we made our way through the glass doors and into the courtyard.
Billy looked magnificent as usual and Jean and Albert placed some flowers on the plinth.
That was the cue for everyone else who had brought flowers and cards to do the same. We placed some flowers from Moya and from Pat.
In total there were around 40 or 50 people in the courtyard, which made it look quite full.
Albert then made a short speech thanking everyone for attending to pay tribute to "Our Kid". This was followed by applause from the crowd in appreciation.
Then Jean said a few words, pointing out that at the same time there were fans gathering at Mill Hill and that it was nice for the people who could not get to London to meet at the statue and in a way be united in their remembrance of her Billy.
Both Jean and Albert were very accommodating with people wanting photographs with them and there was plenty of snappers there enjoying the chance of a rare photograph for their albums.
After all the pics were taken we were milling around the courtyard chatting and thanking people for coming and I looked around to see Billy’s Mam alone staring up at the statue.
A wonderful private moment and I was glad that no one had photographed that moment as it was so special and private.
Then we went inside again and some of us signed the guest book with heartfelt memories of a great man.
Most people started drifting away shortly afterwards and the ones who were left decided to go to The Britannia pub down the dock road for a pub lunch etc. This is the pub where Billy’s star is outside on the dock walkway of Liverpool Legends so it was a very fitting end to the day.
Both Jean and Albert would like to pass on their gratitude and thanks to all the people who attended especially at such short notice. We thoroughly enjoyed the day and hope that it happens again sometime. They both hope to be well enough to attend Mill Hill this April for Billy’s birthday.
Mill Hill gathering on Sunday 13 April, 2002.
Being one who has been going to these events for the past 15 years, I have somewhat been unable to attend in the past 3 or 4 years, due to work or personal problems. Because I know the format and due to my sporadic absence, I thought that this time, I would arrive at the hall at 2pm. (Everyone normally meets by Billys grave from 1pm, then make their way to the hall round the corner.) When I arrived there were about 20 fans who had started to sit around the hall and the fan club had started to set up behind some tables to prepare the sale items and auction, raffle, etc. In the kitchen, people started to make the teas and coffees and food was being laid out in the centre of the room. Billy was playing in the background.
I acknowledged Chris Eley, (one of the fan club leaders), who I have known for some years from these gatherings and eventually I saw "Pauline" from Cambridge, who recognised me and came to chat. It was nice to be back to that warm feeling of Billy togetherness with everyone, although I hardly recognised most of the new Billy fans. What ever happened to the 60-strong people that I was more familiar with? I recognised about 10 in total as the afternoon progressed. Today there seemed to also be a total of about 60, but instead of the numbers increasing, it seems that people just get "replaced"?!! Whilst listening to the music and chatting, I was shocked to hear a "Live" version of "I WILL". I thought to myself, "Oh no, something I havent got! When did that come out? Where can I get it from?"!
Chris announced that Billys mum, Jean would not be in attendance today because she was at Alberts bedside, who is "quite ill with kidney problems". It was the first time that Jean had not attended, (whilst I was there), for about 10 years. A Get Well card was distributed to everyone present to be sent to Albert in hospital and address labels were also handed out for people to send their own, should they prefer.
We all had a bit more of a chat, before Chris came back to announce the days proceedings. A member of Billys backing groups in the 70s, (Bob), had kindly donated some CDs of Billy Live in Concert in 1975 and that the CD playing was indeed what we had been listening to. Chris informed us that this would be the only place we could obtain a copy of the CD, (£10), with all monies raised being donated to the Bronze Statue Fund. For me, it got the ball rolling with what I was going to purchase this day! Along with the CD, I bought some photocopies of some Billy articles which I had not seen before, (again, all money to the Bronze fund), and....
I noticed a shirt on one of the tables with merchandise, (including the re-issue of "The Sound of Fury", the 10" vinyl, which was for sale for £10). With the shirt were some Certificates of Authenticity" which stated, "The enclosed item of 1970s style clothing originated from the same source as that of fully authenticated items. I have no hesitation in stating therefore, that to the best of my knowledge and belief, this item was owned, and almost certainly worn by, the late, great Billy Fury." Signed by Chris Eley and dated October 1997.
I obviously wanted the shirt, and asked about it. They were selling 4" x 4" pieces of the shirt to fans who wished to own a piece for £3.00, to raise money for the Bronze fund. I think that I was one of the first to ask for a piece. I guessed that it would be unfair to offer an amount for the full shirt, as I believed the opportunity was for everyone to own a piece of something that was once Billys. I was lucky to receive the cuff and part of the sleeve in full, which was a little more then 4" x 4", along with a certificate. However, I was disappointed to see that at the end of the day, most of the shirt was still there and that only about 8 people purchased a piece.
The raffle was next, with pictures of Billy, chocolate and other unrelated Billy items up for grabs. To my surprise, I was one of the winners and I chose two small silver-framed photos of Billy, which will sit nicely at my new place of work next week!!
The auction was held at the end of the day where items included, a framed hand-painted picture of Billy when he met Elvis, a Billy mouse-mat, a large framed CD with exclusive photographs of the Live Billy concert in 1975, a Michael Winner book- signed by Michael Winner, a Billy clock, amongst other items. These auctions used to always be very low-key, but with the money now being raised specifically for the Bronze fund, prices were jumping quite high. I think that the framed CD with photos reached £150 to the mouse mat reaching £20. I didnt purchase anything from the auction on this occasion, because there was nothing really that caught my fancy, however, on other occasions, I have made some purchases- usually items that once belonged to Billy.
People started leaving after this, at around 5pm, which was quite good, because in the early days, people used to stay around until around 7pm, and the whole day was getting rather long! I left at this time and made my way to Billys grave, where I lit a candle and lay some flowers, amongst the many that had been laid down earlier. All in all, I was really pleased that I went again and all being well, I will be back on Sunday 6th October 2002."
Pierre also attended the gathering on October 6, 2002, and has provided another perceptive report.
I have been ill in the past couple of weeks with flu, but I wanted to make an appearance at the Billy gathering on 6th October, so I thought I would pop in for half an hour or so…
I got to the headstone at the cemetery at around 2pm with my cousin, Michael and it was a lovely sight- full of flowers and cards and pictures of Billy. When I got to the hall, around the corner, it was heaving with people. A quick headcount came to about 60 people who had come from all over the country to be there.
Clare Mehmet-Nugent acknowledged me first, who helps run the Billy Fury Fan Club.
We spoke briefly, before she introduced me to George Wycherley. I spoke to George who is a relative of Billy’s. (George’s grandfather and Billy’s great-grandfather were brothers.)
George lives in Coventry and he kindly gave me a brief outline to the Wycherley family and an old photo of the brothers mentioned above, as well as a copy of Billy’s birth certificate.
For the first time, I met Rob Dee, who is a regular contributor to the message board on www.billyfury.org and what a kind person he is, keeping Billy’s name in the limelight by regularly performing his tribute act and kindly supplying me with a copy of his CD, Tribute To Billy Fury.
If you haven’t got it, it’s got 11 tracks of highly recommended listening music and displays wonderful tones in Rob’s voice.
From Lincoln came Wayne and Dave, who told me that they wanted to be there to pay their respects to Billy. They perform in a band called Hot ‘n’ Rockin’ and tour the rock ‘n’ roll circuit. They also felt that many British performers never got enough credit for their contribution in music history and that they really admired Billy Fury.
I picked up several photocopies of photos and information about Billy, as well as some flyers on up and coming tours in the UK.
After some sandwiches, cakes, chocolate and a cup of tea, the raffle and auction were held to raise funds for the Bronze Statue.
During the raffle, which was drawn by Billy’s mum, Jean, winners were allowed to collect any prize from the prize table. It wasn’t until almost the end of the raffle, that Pauline from Cambridge, (another one of my Billy friend’s), chose a rose in a glass case.
At that point, Jean announced that this rose was in fact something that had been in the Wycherley household for over 40 years!
The auction was again the highlight of the day and announced by Chris Eley who is a great Billy fan and who writes many of the sleeve notes on CDs, etc.
The song sheet of I’d Never Find Another You fetched £50 and a pack of matches with The Billy Fury Fund grabbing £10!
Halfway through the auction, 60’s singer Danny Rivers, (Can’t You Hear My Heart) walked in and donated a hand-drawn picture of Billy and himself.
This was auctioned at £28. I spoke with Danny after the auction, and again, I was touched by his genuine sincerity and fondness of Billy.
The main item at the auction was a radio-clock-calendar, which was bought in 1962 by Billy as a gift to his mother.
With it, the winner received a photo of Billy’s mother and father in their house with the clock in the background.
It reached a massive £195 and all monies raised on the day went to The Billy Fury Bronze Statue Fund, which currently stands at £11,500.
This means that there is still approximately £6,000 to raise.
My final "guest" was Paul Pierrot, who was the producer of the wonderful Omnibus documentary about Billy, as well as the Jukebox Heroes series. Paul told me that he regularly attends the Billy days at Mill Hill and that he had much admiration for him.
The series of Omnibus, which included Billy, received the highest viewer ratings of all with over four and a half million viewers. (This was double the number who tuned in to see an Omnibus documentary on Diana, the Princess of Wales). Let’s hope that the BBC decides to broadcast Billy’s Omnibus once again.
Before leaving, I spoke with Jean, Billy’s mum who is looking so well and appears to be getting younger, each time I see her!
She told me that in her opinion, she feels that Billy has given her "a new lease of life and energy" to help her carry on doing all this wonderful work in his name.
Jean also told me that Albert, (Billy’s brother), is taking 30 tablets a day to keep his kidneys working in order and that he was currently okay. I was truly honoured when Jean told me that Albert had spoken to her about my communication with him about my kidney problems.
At the end of the day, I walked back round to say goodbye to Billy with Rob Dee and his wife.
Upon saying goodbye, we stopped to chat to Jenny Warwick, who lives in Billy’s former house, Wondrous Place, in Wales.
All in all, another wonderful day and my "half an hour" ended up being all afternoon! But well worth it.
All being well, I will be there again on Sunday 26th January 2003, which will be the gathering to mark the 20th anniversary of Billy’s passing.
By Pierre, featuring Rob Dee.