Hundreds of people celebrated the life and times of a Todmorden musical legend on the centenary of his birth at events last weekend.
The centrepiece was the launch of Bill Birch’s new autobiography of Todmorden-born musician, bandleader and arranger Geoff Love at Todmorden Town Hall on Saturday afternoon. Bill signed copies of A Love Affair With Music at the event attended by members of the Love family, including Geoff’s daughters-in-law Diana and Rosalind Love, who also enjoyed Calderdale Big Band’s evening performance before around 180 guests.
They were also delighted to hear, see and, ultimately, share by photographing the 99 pages of letters Bill received from Geoff’s sister Connie, her grand-daughter particularly delighted to read her words across the years. Bill said: “I was deeply moved by that.”
Events began on Saturday with a guided walk around Geoff Love’s Todmorden and concluded, following a Love-themed Todmorden Town Hall tour, at the Hippodrome Theatre with Sunday afternoon’s mix of music from Todmorden Community Brass Band and screenings for the first time in decades of ITV’s This Is Your Life edition featuring him and BBC’s The Brass Beat.
Bill said the supremely talented Love had never been recognised by the establishment for his worldwide achievements and community work such as helping found the Young Persons Concert Foundation, but in Shakespearian terms Geoff was, he said, undoubtedly “a true star of England.”
A spokesman for the organisers said: “Bill was kept busy signing copies of the book and we were delighted to welcome members of Geoff’s family to this very special occasion. Our compere Andrew Rawlinson said one of the reasons Geoff has always been held in such affection by Todmordians is that he had all the talent but no airs and graces. In his definitive book Bill quotes Geoff’s secretary Dorothea Hillier as saying ‘he always took the same size in hats’, her way of saying Geoff never got big-headed despite working with the world’s biggest stars and selling millions of records himself.
“Geoff never forgot Todmorden and the weekend shows Tod hasn’t forgotten him. Bill’s book makes his star shine again and people really enjoyed it.”