Common touch helps turn club around

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Ever since the club scene began its slow contraction in the mid 80s, I have been reporting on clubs that are either closing or losing money.

Last year’s balance sheets up and down the area made for pretty depressing reading with Brookhouse Club in the Wakefield area being one of the few clubs to break even around the city.

It’s the same picture in the Pontefract and Castleford area, as well as up and down the country, so where is there something to cheer about? The answer is Westgate Common Club in Wakefield, which was almost £200,000 in debt not so long ago and on the brink of closure.

A new committee, trustees and club officials came forward and now the club is making a profit and paying all its debts off thick and fast.

Club Secretary Colin Holder let me know all about the happy situation at this club and I must admit, Colin’s note really did make me smile.

I shall be visiting the club in a few weeks’ time to act as a judge at the club’s talent show grand final.

The big night is on June 13 and I’m looking forward to it. Well done to everyone at Westgate Common for their great success and let’s hope that more clubs can publish balance sheets like theirs.

Last Thursday night was a fantastic evening at South Kirkby Miners Club as the annual area senior citizens party was staged.

I have attended and appeared in this show for many years now and I am always pleased to meet and chat with the club officials at this popular community venue. Well done to all concerned for making the evening so memorable. Entertainment was provided by mezzo soprano Emmy Wilde and personality singer Scott Richards, who both appeared either side of my own spot on the show. Emmy and Scott are both pupils of the great vocal technique teacher Tony Wayne, who now lives and works on the Island of Malta.

Emmy, a qualified vocal technique teacher herself, is hoping for a career as a wedding singer and cruise ship entertainer. Emmy is now running Tony’s school herself and I’m sure she will do very well indeed. Scott Richards has the charm and the voice to climb the clubland ladder very quickly.

He has the humorous line in crowd approach that should make him a real winner. I shall watch his progress and his career with great interest. Young talent has always come and gone in clubland and long may that continue.

However the young people who tend to stick around and make a long-term career out of showbusiness are those who learn all the skills that make them appeal to different areas of the entertainment market-place. I am sorry to report that almost all the young performers I meet these days think they know everything after barely being around for a few short months. Young people like Scott and others are the future of our industry and I say more power to their collective elbow.

I had a good look at Pontefract entertainer Elle Gent when she appeared at last autumn’s Wakefield and Pontefract Concert Secretaries’ Federation awards night. On that auspicious occasion Elle was presented with the award for best female entertainer. The awards night was held at Carlton wmc near Rothwell and a great time was had by all.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to work with this great clubland lady and I was amazed how much she reminds me of the late and great Marti Caine. Also on view while I was out and about last weekend was Pontefract singer Lewis Matthews. Lewis has a charming and witty approach and sings all the right songs, so what more could any audience want?

Finally for this week its congratulations to Crigglestone wmc treasurer Jim Kelly and his lovely missus as they celebrate 50 years of marriage this weekend. A party night is being held on Friday featuring new Clubland star Lauren Faye Moss and everyone is welcome to attend and help the happy couple mark their marriage milestone.

If you have any news or views for this column we would like to hear from you. Just drop me a line at the Express or call my office number on 01924 890800 and leave a message for me or email mark-ritchie@ btconnect.com