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Thursday, 23 October 2014

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Boom time for Carlisle ukulele group

Mention the ukulele to most people and they’re likely to think of wartime entertainer George Formby.

Ukulele group photo
From left, Barry and Mo Dickerson with Bob Wilkinson

But all that could be about to change.

The humble four-stringed instrument is enjoying a revival with a boom in sales across the United Kingdom – and Cumbria is getting in on the act.

A new group is now meeting at Belah Community Centre in Carlisle to learn how to play it to perfection.

It has been set up through the Carlisle and District University of the Third Age (U3A), a group set up to help improve the lives of older people in the area by helping them learn new skills.

Heather Perrin, 61, of Stanwix, is the instructor leading the group.

She is a part-time school teacher and also takes piano lessons.

“It is a happy instrument, there are lots of lovely songs,” she said.

Around 20 people attend the group, which has been running since November.

Impressively this is when many members of the class, including Ms Perrin, began playing the ukulele.

She comes from a musical background but admits the four-stringed ukulele is an easy instrument to play.

She said: “We thought this would be a self-help group but I have ended up leading it.”

The ukulele has its origins in 19th century Hawaii. It’s name can be translated into English as jumping flea.

Beatle George Harrison was a fan of the instrument. It is most commonly associated though with George Formby, a major star during the 1930s and 1940s.

One of the group members is 72-year-old Castle Carrock man Tony Thornton, who is a member of the George Formby Society.

“I have been playing the ukulele for 20 years,” he said. “It is an impromptu instrument that you can just pick up and play and sing with. You don’t have to be an expert.”

Members of the group range from 69-years-old to 85-years-old.

To find out more, call Ms Perrin on 01228 535624 or visit the University of the Third Age website at u3asites.org.uk/carlisle.

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