Wentworth House Hotel Yorks Air Ambulance Christmas Lunch8th Dec 2023

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Flooded River Went at Wentbridge.

Wakeylele at Wentbridge House Hotel for YAA Christmas Lunch Event

by Phil Barr. Photos Phil and Richard

With the festive season gathering pace, members of the Wakeylele band arrived at the impressive grounds of Wentbridge House Hotel, standing above an abnormally swollen River Went following days of rain, snow and general wintry weather but undeterred they parked their canoes and were shown into a bar area adjacent to a sumptuous dining room. 

Arriving just in time. Tony and David

Plush looking chairs were arranged in a semi – circle with a small teddy bear on each one courtesy of the Air Ambulance team; no doubt these will come in useful as a de -stressing aid as the joys of Christmas begin to fray the nerves. Another perk was the coffee provided – no mince pies but you shouldn’t wish for too much. The tension mounted as the start time approached with Pop, Dave Blackburn and Tony yet to arrive but on the stroke of half past eleven the latter pair arrived having been held up by roadworks on the AI and swiftly set up before we began the set. By now guests were arriving for drinks prior to the YAA’s Christmas Dinner, with a mixture of posh frocks, Christmas jumpers and jackets and ties on show.

Guests arriving

Knowing we had a relatively small number of players available, David led by example as we gave it all we had. The songs now all familiar with an alternating mix of seasonal and other numbers. Fortunately, Pop finally managed to join us after being another victim of road works, his face a true reflection of the hassle he had endured despite setting off from his home at 9:30. His good intentions reminding me of Dickie Bird, the old Yorkshire and England cricket umpire who got fidgety if he didn’t arrive at a ground 3 hours before play was due to start. Pop, being the true professional he is soon put his travails to one side as the band got into their stride to the extent that our host not only applauded us but told us that she was so impressed she was booking us for December next year and this after just 20 minutes into the set.

“Are you lot ready yet”
David F with Pop. “I’m not going back the way I came”

However, just in case anyone was tempted to get carried away, David had to point out gently that the dips in performance and volume during the French and Spanish lyrics of Felize Navidad was rather noticeable so it looks like foreign language refresher courses need to be on our New Year resolutions list!

Keeping the female end up at Wentbridge. Mags & Sue

No matter, the band was generally in expansive mode and the punters seemed happy, with several jigging and swaying as the heady blend of Christmas tunes and Prosecco took effect. Very unusually, Sue and Mags were the only female representatives of the band today but by golly they both performed magnificently; indeed, several people could be seen nodding in appreciation as they passed. Gestures like this became more and more important as the noise level rose with the vast dining room fast filling up with guests. Our throats needed constant lubrication; mine felt like it does after Barnsley have either scored the winner in extra time or else been treated badly by referees throughout the previous 90 minutes.

Straight to the bar.

One example of the challenges we faced from today came during Silent Night when one lady enjoying her glass of fizz along with a group of friends came out with a raucous cackle to coincide with the hymn’s lyric, ‘Sleep in heavenly peace’ which rather disturbed the ambience of the moment. Wakeylele, though are made of sterner stuff and merely brushed aside such trivialities to complete their varied set. The Union of Different Kinds immediately synced with the relaxed mood of the gathering as did Winter Wonderland and before we knew it, we were once again rounding off our contribution to the event by wishing everybody a Happy Christmas, in song of course.

Dining Hall

It was another sterling performance by the band especially considering at least a dozen notable absentees, all no doubt with other commitments at this busy time of year. However, we still haven’t discovered who Steve T is. He was down on the list to play but certainly not here today, unless he’s a ghost from Dickens Christmas Carol. 

John casts a longing look at Mike’s headgear “Oh Oh Oh”. Joe goes for the traditional look.

The hosts made us very welcome. David can once again be proud of his efforts in galvanising and progressing the band and Mike Hindley deserves a special pat on the back for his part in making it possible for us to participate in these YAA events. 

Roy and Stan taking the gig very seriously.

As the group dispersed, I walked back to the canoes with Richard and Roy, who were discussing local history, Richard mentioning how hemp was produced in the area and Roy then going into the intricacies of rope making. I heard the term Rogue Yarn mentioned – say no more! 

Coffee time. David, John and reporter Phil.

That wraps up events for 2023 apart from next Tuesday’s low – key get together with David planning half a dozen full group songs to supplement any solo or small group contributions so that no one is left twiddling their thumbs for very long. To those who can’t make next week, a happy and healthy new year to you all.

1 Comment on “Wentworth House Hotel Yorks Air Ambulance Christmas Lunch8th Dec 2023

  1. Fabulous, festive frolicking for our final venture this year!
    A fair distance and a troublesome journey for some, proved to have little negative affect on our overall performance which seemed to get the approval of both our organizers and guests alike. Probably the plushest place we’ve played but with bar prices to match ….. there’s much to be said for our home base!
    Sincere thanks to everyone participating. Special regards, as usual, to our reporters and, as Phil kindly reminds us, to Mike for his tireless work in liaising with the YAA to get us these gigs.
    Thanks too to everyone in our band whose efforts throughout 2023 have been magnificent. I have been proud to serve as your leader and I wish you all a most enjoyable time for the festive season. Merry Christmas and a happy new year!

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