The Clifford T Ward Convention
Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the Clifford T Ward convention on 25th April '99; however, for Peter Royal, it was his first experience of the event, and he subsequently sent a wonderful description of the day to the 'Clifford T Ward Mailing List'. My thanks to Peter for allowing me to reproduce his article. Here it is:
|As nobody else seems to be doing it can I take it upon myself to tell
you about the Bewdley convention? It was the first one I had attended and
I thought it was very good, a great afternoon out.
I shall try and be objective at the risk of being formal.
The venue was a surprise to me. I didn't know quite what I was expecting but it was a fairly modern hotel in very pleasant grounds with a health club in the grounds. I didn't see much of the hotel, the convention was in one of the function suites. As I went into the foyer the sound of CTW music lead me straight to it.
The function room had an outer room with a bar, they were also selling raffle tickets just inside the door. This room opened out into the main body of the function room through folding doors. There were rows of chairs at the back of the room, then towards the front there were tables with chairs around them. There was a stage at the far end, the right hand side had windows and the left hand side had a row of tables selling CTW merchandise.
The band were very good, called School of Thought. There were rhythm, bass and lead guitars, drums and keyboard. The rhythm guitarist handled most of the vocals and there was a female vocalist who was reduced to backing vocals for the CTW songs. They also played some of their regular set and she did a fine version of Midnight Hour.
The band did two sets. I can't remember all that they played now but the set included the following: Gaye, Wherewithal, Easy Baby, The Best is Yet to Come (a truly excellent version of one of my favourites), Scullery, and Moonlight. I think they also played Open University but I've been playing CTW in my car so much recently I really can't remember. The keyboard player took the vocals on Easy Baby and before he sang he told us how he had explained to his Mum that the band were doing a benefit for Clifford T Ward, how good the music was etc, at this point his Mum left the room and returned to present him with her copy of Home Thoughts.
CTW was there in his wheelchair, Pat was looking stunning, CTW's grand daughter helped draw the raffle and it set me looking at the other people helping run things to see if I could recognise any of the family from the cover of Home Thoughts, but twenty five years changes people a little! Liz was there. When I arrived I noticed a lady in a wheelchair at the back of the room and at one point in the set the vocalist said 'Debbie, I know you're at the back of the room, would you like to come to the front because this song is for you'. They then played 'For Debbie and Her Friends'. She stayed where she was and, as he was singing, the irony of the lyrics struck me as I looked at Clifford in his wheelchair, 'Won't you tell me what it's like in your wheelchair'. It really brought a lump to my throat.
Dave Cartwright was there, the book is still not available, the dust jacket was on display and orders were being taken. During the break between the band's sets people chatted, bought merchandise and generally had a good time. There were speeches and presentations as well as the raffle. I didn't know who all the people were who spoke but that didn't matter. I tried to count how many people were there, it was not easy and I think there were between 100 and 150 which surprised me. There was a wide range of ages, not just the long standing supporters from twenty five years ago, but all ages.
The whole event was recorded on video and so you will presumably be able to get a copy and see the whole thing for yourself. I recommend it if you can.
I didn't stay to the very end, the band had finished their second set and I had to get back home with a couple of hours drive ahead of me. I had a great time, even if this report sounds a little bland. The band were very good and had worked hard to get the right sound. The vocalist explained that CTW had been present at the rehearsals and when the band played it to his satisfaction he would raise his finger and point; we weren't told what signal he gave if he didn't like it, but what ever he did, it worked very well. Clifford looked well under the circumstances, everybody was very friendly. An afternoon spent in pleasant surroundings, with good company listening to excellent music. Can't think what else to tell you except if you can make it to the next one I'll see you there.
Best wishes to all,
Clifford T Ward Convention In Ireland (November 2000)
The first ever Clifford T Ward Convention in Ireland was held on 5th November 2000, at the Regency Hotel, Drumcondra, Dublin. It proved an even greater success than those held annually in England, with fans turning up in droves. The hotel room, designed to hold around 350 people, was crammed with about 450, and in the region of another 150 had to be turned away at the door. The format for the afternoon was pretty much the same as the October Convention in England (described above), with Dave Cartwright compering, James Davey and School of Thought performing a range of Cliff's songs, and a group of Dublin School Children joining 'School of T' to provide the choruses to Cliff's song 'The Traveller'. Cliff was meeting the fans, who also had the opportunity of meeting members of Cliff's family including his wife, Pat, daughters Debbie (of 'For Debbie and Her Friends' fame) and Polly. Much of the merchandise was completely sold out, and one of the 'officials' described the event as 'wonderful, brilliant, fantastic!': Cliff received the longest standing ovation of his career.
The Second CTW Convention in Ireland (June 2002)
Sunday June 2nd was a very welcome day for about 400 of Cliff's fans who had made their way to the Olympia Theatre, one of Dublinís largest. The School Of Thought covers band and James Davey wove their magic with a great many of Cliffs songs and they were very well supported by Dawn Kenney and Noel OíGrady, popular performers in Ireland.
The evening lasted from 8pm to 11pm and was judged a fitting tribute for Cliff. This was the second concert to take place in Ireland, and whether there will be another depends on how quickly Peter Grogan (one of the main organisers), and others, recover from the mammoth task of all the organising! Letís hope it doesnít take too long!.
The September 2001 CTW Convention
The convention, which took place on (Sunday) 30 September, was yet another huge success, this year being compered by Stephen Bagust. Cliff was there as usual meeting the fans - also in attendance were Cliff's wife Pat, daughters Debbie and Polly, and his granddaughter Elle. Entertainment was, once again, provided by James Davey - giving his usual superb renditions of a range of Cliff's songs - and by the inimitable band, School of Thought; who, as last year, were joined by a group of Kidderminster School children in singing Cliff's song 'The Traveller'. Cliff received a unique award for his contributions to the world of music, and this was presented by David Paramor - owner of Cliff's recording and publishing company RP Media. (see newspaper cutting: from 'main page', follow link, 'Articles' then 'CTW Convention 2001').
The First Tribute Concert (UK) - 29th. September 2002
The First Clifford T Ward Tribute concert took place on Sunday, 29th September at the usual venue, The Gainsborough Hotel, in Kidderminster. Attendance was down slightly on the previous conventions, but not as much as anticipated - given that it is the first one at which Cliff was not present: his loyal following proves as strong as ever. The fans were treated to another superb performance of a number of Cliff's songs by the Luton based band 'School of Thought', and they were joined by James Davey, who came out of retirement (from music), for several of the songs. Most of the recording equipment from Cliff's home studio was auctioned, and the day was deemed every bit a success as the earlier conventions.
Clifford T Ward Convention - 2004
The 2004 CTW convention is expected to take place, as usual, sometime around September and at the usual venue - The Gainsborough House Hotel in Kidderminster; however, exact details have not yet been finalised: they will be presented here as soon as they are available. For the very latest information, you can contact Roy Smith on 01299 825809, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .
(The Gainsborough House Hotel (Bewdley Hill, Kidderminster) can be contacted by phoning 01562 820041.)
Map - Clifford T Ward Convention
Gainsborough House Hotel location: From Kidderminster town centre -
take the 'A456' road to Bewdley. The hotel is situated on the left-hand
side of the road - shortly after passing the 'A4535' (leads to the 'A451'
- road to Stourport) road junction (still in Kidderminster - a set of traffic
lights control this junction).
RETURN: Clifford T Ward