George Yeoman: A Century for Danny Boy

Posted on 19th August 2013 | in Community , Heritage & Tourism

George’s book, ‘A Century for Danny Boy’, can be obtained from him at Northam Villa, 116 Slade Road, Portishead, BS20 6BB for £10, including post and packing.

George’s book, ‘A Century for Danny Boy’, can be obtained from him at Northam Villa, 116 Slade Road, Portishead, BS20 6BB for £10, including post and packing.

An Amble man is running a campaign to raise the profile of the songwriter and poet who wrote Danny Boy, Roses of Picardy, The Holy City and a number of First World War songs.

Frederick Edward Weatherly was born in Portishead, near Bristol, where Ambler reader and Amble man George Yeaman now lives.  George was born at 4 Dilston Terrace, still has friends in Amble and district and says The Ambler “gets better and better”. Thank you George!

Fred Weatherly wrote the song ‘Danny Boy’

Fred Weatherly wrote the song ‘Danny Boy’

“Fred wrote some 3,000 songs and poems and although his works are sung world-wide he himself is hardly known outside the West Country,” says George.

Frederick died just over 80 years ago. His most famous song, Danny Boy reaches its centenary this year.

“I feel it is high time we gave Fred the credit he deserves and this is a good year to do just that. My appeal is for all singers, concert organisers and choirs who know and love the song to arrange a concert to include Danny Boy and maybe one or two others by Fred and at the same time make money for their own favourite charity. Anyone who would be interested and will arrange a concert or two should let me know so we can add their event to our list”  says George.

Sounds like a good project for Amble’s popular community choir, the Harbour Lights. Fred’s birthday is October 4, so you have plenty of time to plan.

George Yeoman’s own colourful career


George started his journalistic career on the Alnwick Gazette, before working at the War Office as a secretary to Field Marshal Montgomery’s Deputy, moving to East Africa, becoming Editor of the Mombasa Times, working on the Troy Daily News in Dayton, Ohio, USA, the Daily Telegraph foreign desk, the BBC World Service and the Sunday Telegraph, and finally joining British European Airways as a PR manager.

George recalls that when working at North Shields he was given a tip-off about an old fellow who had worked in a theatre owned by the father of famous comedian Stanley Laurel, partner of the American Oliver Hardy.  Stan and Ollie, as they were known to millions, were visiting Tyneside at the time and George arranged a tea party for the old chap to meet up again with Stan whom he had known years earlier.  “I had a cup of tea with them and left them to yarn about the old days,” George said.  “It made a good story! Stan was born in Ullverston, Cumbria,  just North of Blackpool, and he was the only man I ever met who was married to the same wife – Virginia Ruth – three times over!”.

His worst adventure involved when working for British Airways taking a group of travel journalists to visit Finland for Christmas celebrations in Lapland.  On the Finnish Airways flight to the Arctic Circle in very bad weather, while making a refuelling stop on the way he had a word with the pilot and asked how he coped in such conditions.   “The young pilot laughed and replied “Experience, old boy!”.

Shortly afterwards as they were landing the plane overshot and crashed into a wall of snow at the end of the runway and both engines ejected.  George had to help his team and a few other passengers get out through the roof and jump into a wall of snow.  “Fortunately, no-one was hurt and the rescue vehicles arrived in seconds and the bus and I were able to reach the steps safely!” he added.

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