Queen offered ukulele lessons by fans of Wigan's George Formby

The music of Wigan-born entertainer George Formby enjoyed its biggest day for decades when fans serenaded the Queen at her gala birthday party.

Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 11:19 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 11:26 am
Left to right, Ed Balls, Frank Skinner, Harry Hill and Gerry Mawdsley with Vivien behind him

And both Her Majesty and Prince Charles have been offered ukulele lessons after a cheeky backstage offer from his appreciation society’s boss.

Other news: New £46m Wigan home for trains provides jobs boostIt was only revealed recently that the Queen has been a life-long Formby fan and knows the words to many of his hit songs from the 1930s and 40s.

And when organisers of her 92nd birthday concert at the Royal Albert Hall at the weekend were drawing up a programme they decided to include his music.

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The Queen, Prince Charles, Gerry Mawdesley and Shawn Mendes

So 40 members - young and old, male and female - were selected to join celebrity Formby fanatics Frank Skinner, Harry Hill and Ed Balls for a performance of When I’m Cleaning Windows in front of the Queen, other members of the royal family, a packed house of 6,000 and potential TV and radio audience of 2.2 billion!

And Gerry and Vivien Mawdsley, president and secretary of the fan club, had the extra privilege of a private post-concert royal audience in the wings.

Gerry said: “We are still on cloud nine, 10 and 11! Walking out on that stage with other members of the society just took our breath away.

“We had Tom Jones and Kylie Minogue as our warm-up act and out of a 90-minute show we had nine minutes which is terrific.

George Formby

“Then at the end Viv and I were invited back on with the other performers. While we were waiting in the wings Viv nudged me. I did one of those irritable ‘whats?’ like you do with your wife and then realised the Queen was standing next to us and Viv was chatting away to her.

“Then she asked me if the ukulele was easy to play and I said I could teach her a song in 10 minutes.

“Prince Charles leaned over and said ‘I would love to learn that’ so I told him that I would send him a George Formby Society membership card in the post!”

The society’s involvement in the concert began a month ago when Viv received a phone call from the BBC asking if the society would like to take part in a show in London.

The Queen, Prince Charles, Gerry Mawdesley and Shawn Mendes

Gerry said: “They didn’t tell us anything else at that point because it was all hush-hush so we rather blindly agreed to it. It was only later that it turned out we were going to perform in a celebrity concert for the Queen’s birthday at the Albert Hall.”

Gerry said that comics Skinner and Hill are both long-time fans and society members. Ex-shadow chancellor Balls is now newly signed up too, having learnt the uke from scratch in just a fortnight from Gerry who travelled down to London several times to coach him personally.

Gerry added: “The performance of Windows went down a treat. You could see the Queen nodding and Prince Charles tapping his foot. The audience clapped along and the applause at the end hit us like a tidal wave.”

George Formby