One of Grantham’s most well-known music show promoter’s has passed away.
Noel Frederick Wallis, beloved husband to Christine Wallis and dad to Tracie Hollier and Debra Wrenn, passed away at his home on Signal Road on Sunday, aged 85.
He was known throughout Grantham for being a great champion of local musicians and was renowned for organising events in and around the Grantham area.
Noel was born in Grantham in 1931 and attended Spittlegate primary school.
After leaving school, he became an apprentice bricklayer at Fosters before taking up his trade as a bricklayer and builder. He later became a civilian instructor in HM Stocken Prison, before retiring in 1996.
A keen vocalist, he would often take bus trips to Nottingham to sing in the 1950’s before before moving into music management.
When Roy Taylor, otherwise known as Vince Eager, was signed up by an agency in London, Noel became his road manager.
He was with Vince when he met his wife Christine at a dance hall in Nottingham in 1960.
Shortly after they met, Noel left on a tour to Scotland with Vince, but made sure Christine knew that she was never far away from his thoughts, by sending her a letter or a postcard every day that he away.
After ‘courting’ for three years, they married in Hucknall, Nottingham in 1963 and went on honeymoon to Somerset, before Christine moved to Queen’s Street in Grantham to be with Noel, before they moved to a flat on London Road and then to Edward Street, where they stayed for many years before moving to Signal Road.
Christine said: “Grantham was absolutely buzzing with life when I arrived. Although I was from Nottingham, which is only few miles down the road, Grantham was very exciting to me. It had a great music scene, a cinema and a thriving market place. It was a great place to live.”
The couple went on to have two daughters, Tracie in 1965 followed by Debra in 1966.
Not wanting to be away from his young family, Noel decided to go back to his bricklaying trade when Christine was pregnant with Tracie.
But he didn’t move away from music entirely.
Christine added: “Music was his life blood.”
Tracie said: “Everyone respected dad’s opinion. He liked to encourage youngsters to pursue their talents, but was good at keeping them grounded.
We would often get young hopefuls dropping their cassettes off for dad’s opinion.”
Over the next few years, Noel became known around Grantham for the amount of music events that he organised, including the first three party in the park’s, midsummer dances, mayor’s shows and the popular new year’s eve parties at the former Central School, which were always a sell out.
His last music event was a Millenium party at the Prince William of Gloucester Barracks
As his daughters grew up, Noel was keen to share his passion for music with them, often taking them to gigs.
Tracie said: “I always remember going to Marco’s with dad on a Saturday night to see Vince Eager or going to Trevor Leeson gigs when I was a teenager.”
But it wasn’t just music, that Noel wanted to share with his girls.
Debra said: “He loved taking us on holiday around Britain and showing us different places. We were members of the UK Caravan and Camping Club and would go away nearly every weekend. One Bank Holiday, dad organised a cabaret show at the Lincolnshire showground for the caravan club. The teenagers had their own marquee and dad had arranged a really good disco. He always thought of everyone,”
So highly regarded was Noel around Grantham, that he was the subject of a surprise, ‘This is your Life’ celebration in 2009, with Rotarian Roger Graves narrating the story of his life. During the night, performances were given by some of the best known names from Grantham’s music scene, including a set by Grantham Vagabonds skiffle group, featuring singer Vince Eager, bass player Brian ‘Licorice’ Locking, guitarist Roy Clark and washboard player Mick Fretwell.
Christine added: “We couldn’t walk down the High street without someone stopping us to talk to Noel. Everyone knew him. He always wanted to know everything that was going on. He would read a newspaper until the print came off.”
When Noel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s four years ago, Christine took great care of him.
Noel spent the last four weeks in Grantham Hospital before returning home on Friday. He spent the weekend surrounded by his family, before passing away on Sunday evening.
Christine added: “He knew he was home and that is all that mattered.”
The family are overwhelmed from people offering their condolences.
Christine added; “I always felt that me and the girls were safe when we had Noel. He was our rock.”
Noel’s funeral will take place at Grantham Crematorium on Thursday, 9 November at 11am. Donations will be collected for Marie Curie and Alzheimer’s Society in Noel’s memory.