Doncaster man Tony Lister had opportunity of a lifetime to play his ukulele to the Queen on her Birthday

Member's of the George Formby society were elated to play the classic 'When I'm Cleaning Windows' to her majesty.

Thursday, 24th May 2018, 2:03 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th May 2018, 2:06 pm

Music man Tony Lister has been a ukulele enthusiast since the age of seven, never knowing at 77 he would play for The Queen.

Part of a group, the Doncaster OAP was invited to the Royal Albert Hall to play instrument classic “When I’m Cleaning Windows” as a special surprise for HRH.

Tony said: “It was known the Queen enjoyed George Formby when she was a young girl so the BBC invited George Formby Society to play.

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“I was fortunate to be selected from the group to play.”

Last month’s concert took a lot of forward planning and preparation to pull off the right royal surprise.

After just four rehearsals, society members were playing with BBC Concert Orchestra as a few famous faces also appeared.

On stage were Frank Skinner, Harry Hill and Ed Balls, who picked up playing in only four weeks.

On the big day he met other celebrities including Kylie Minogue, Tom Jones, Sting and Shaggy.

“Most of the royal family were there, Prince Charles, Anne, The Queen, of course, the Duke, Camilla, Eugenie, Beatrice and Edward were all there.”

The performance revived a huge round of applause from the crown with Tony very proud to be a part of the event.

Tony’s love for ukuleles has been strong since, at the age of six, he was first introduced to who would become one of his heroes.

“My mother took me to see George Formby film ‘No Limit’ about the TT races on the Isle of Man. That’s when I first fell in love with the ukulele.”

Soon after, he was given his first ukulele by his mother’s brother and, after learning a few chords, he was hooked and never looked back.

Tony now owns eight ukulele banjos and two wooden ukuleles he keeps in prime condition at his Bennetthorpe home.

Tony continued: ”I’ve been a life-long railway man, starting in 1958 and retiring in 1994. I’ve always lived in Doncaster. In fact, I’ve lived within the same half-mile radius my entire life.

“I used to like sitting in the front window of my parent’s house in Bennetthorpe on race day and watch the hordes of crowds going down to the St Leger, five or six deep on either side of the road.

“People like Prince Monolulu were there and racings tipsters. But sadly it’s not like it used to be anymore.”

Doncaster Stage Productions president, he has a keen interest in theatre, A member for 64 years, he has appeared in 55 shows - one each year until 2008 when he decided to retire from musicals and focus on his beloved ukulele.

“My parents have been in Doncaster Operatic Society since the 1930s. In 1954 they were putting on a show called ‘Annie get your gun’ and needed a young boy to play the part of little Jake.

“My dad took me down to rehearse and I got it. The following year I was cast as the boy king in ‘King Rhapsody’ and then, in 1959, I was in ‘Carousel,”’ Tony continued.

Even when busy with schoolwork, he would still go to the theatre to help behind the scenes, pulling curtain ropes. Favourite shows he was a part off were ‘Merry Widow’ and ‘The Sound Of Music.’

Today Tony spends his time giving talks on George Formby and the instrument’s past.

“It seems to be coming back. It’s played in a lot of schools instead of the recorder. It’s only got four strings and is easy to pick up,” added Tony.

If you’re interested in his talks, you can contact him at [email protected] or on 07762848501.