A MUSICAL group which started out with just two members a year ago has gone from strength to strength and now boasts 40 fabulous pluckers.
The Hartlepool Ukulele Group (HUG) was set up by George Formby fan Geoff Lilley on January 12, 2012, after he appeared in the Hartlepool Mail to ask if any other budding musicians would fancy giving it a go.
The first meeting was held in St Matthew’s Community Centre, in Elwick Road, which saw 10 new members turn out and enjoy the musical evening.
But word spread and over the following weeks the group outgrew the community centre after attracting another 30 members so its meeting place was moved to the Athenaeum Club, in Church Street.
And after perfecting dozens of tunes from the 1920s to the present day, the players – aged from 15 to 65-years-old – have had a busy schedule of performances from a grand night in The Avenue venue, off Raby Road, in front of a packed-out crowd of 150 people, to more intimate performances to cheer up the elderly in care homes.
Founder Geoff, 62, said: “It’s been a great year and I can’t believe we are where we are today.
“One of the reasons I wanted to start a group was because the nearest ukulele group to Hartlepool before HUG, was in Darlington or Durham.
“So a friend of mine John MacDade and I decided to see if there was any interest in starting one in Hartlepool, and there was.
“The Mail very kindly published an article about forming a group and we had a very good response and HUG was formed in January 2012.”
The dad, step-dad and grandad said HUG received great support from Peter Gowland at the Hartlepool Voluntary Development Association (HVDA), and were kindly donated a digital projector, microphone stands, and generous funding from town firms EDF, Huntsman and Sabic-Europe, which enabled them to purchase other equipment.
Geoff said: “We did meet in St Matthew’s Community Centre but very quickly out grew the room and moved to the Athenaeum Club.
“Most new members have not played a ukulele before but quickly pick up the basics and are soon playing along with gusto. We encourage members to sing along and we want to develop members’ hidden talent.
“Our repertoire covers a wide range of music, ranging from the 1920’s to the present.
We are very lucky in having Brian as our bass player, Barry our drummer and Trevor our guitarist, they give depth and colour to our sound.
“It has been rewarding to see how we have all progressed together, we have socials, and practices nights are fun.
“The main aim is to meet together and play music, however, we also enjoy performing in public.
“The simple fact is playing music on any instrument is fun but playing with other people is even more fun, plus it hides the odd bum note!”
HUG have performed at Tesco foyer to raise £173 for Marie Curie, Foggy Furze Folk Club, St Matthew’s Community Centre’s 111th birthday bash,at the Hartlepool Community Choir Social, Greatham Village Players Party in the Park event, The McOrville pub, in Elwick, the Salvation Army, in Park Road and Queens Meadow Care Home, in Stockton Road, to name but a few.
The group, which meets every Thursday from 6pm in the Athenaeum Club, still welcomes new members of any ability.
For further details contact Geoff on (01429) 291542, email Hartlepoolukulelegroup@yahoo.co.uk or see its facebook page, Hartlepool Ukulele Group – HUG.