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Alan Bell - 1934 - 2019

It was with great sadness that the family of Alan Bell announced that he had passed away on 25 April after a short illness. Alan was 84, a much-loved husband, brother, father, uncle and great uncle. He was best known as a performer, writer and as the founder and director of the Fylde Folk Festival which ran from 1972 until 2014. Alan was planning a one-day Fylde Folk Festival revival on Saturday 22nd June 2019 in Fleetwood, an event which was also to mark his 85th birthday. His family quickly confirmed that it was his wish that this event would go ahead and so it will now be held as a celebration of the man and his music.

Alan Bell led a life full of music and songs, and these have been well documented in articles in The Living Tradition and elsewhere throughout his long career. Over the years he performed in hundreds of folk clubs and festivals, both solo and with The Alan Bell Band, recorded for radio and television, and made several albums. He co-founded the Blackpool Folk Club and the Taverners Folk Group in 1960. He was a renowned songwriter, penning songs such as Windmills, So, Here’s To You and Bread And Fishes, and his songs have been covered by many, many prominent artists. He also wrote several radio shows, suites for brass band and voices, and song-cycles for choral societies. His epic, The Century’s People, which told of the life and times of ordinary people on the Fylde coast between 1900 and 2000 and featured brass bands, choirs, folk singers and musicians, received an English Heritage Award. In the year 2000, he founded Folkus, the Folk Arts Network of the North West, encouraging music-making through workshops and concerts.

For most of us Alan Bell has been ever-present throughout our own journeys with folk music and we have our own memories and stories of him. The many tributes that have been paid, particularly on social media, demonstrate the love and respect that people everywhere had for him. These talk of “unmissable years at Fylde”, an “extraordinarily rich variety of folk and traditional music”, “the friendly atmosphere carefully nurtured by Alan”, and “Alan's legacy of encouraging and enthusing newcomers to folk music”. They speak of how Alan has enriched our lives with friendship and songs, and of how working with him was a privilege and a pleasure. He did a vast amount to enhance the folk music scene of his local area, and beyond, and his legacy will certainly live on. That legacy will include his songs. So, Here’s To You has undoubtedly become a traditional song in Ireland, Scotland and closer to home.

So, here's to you Alan; your contribution will not be forgotten.