Members of Cheltenham's Tilley Brothers Band to reunite after 50 years
FRIENDS who kept Cheltenham dancing with their music in the post-war era are set for a reunion after more than 50 years apart.
Pianist Cyril Skeen and drummer Norman Nicholls were part of the popular Tilley Brothers Band in the 1950s, but lost touch when Norman moved to Australia late in the decade.
However, they are now set to meet again after more than half a century following a chance encounter at a recent Royal Air Force Association dance in Cheltenham.
The wheels were set in motion when Cyril got chatting with an old friend of Norman's at the dance. After exchanging letters, Cyril and Norman eventually spoke on the phone, hearing each other's voices again for the first time since the late fifties.
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Norman will fly to the UK later this month and arrive in Cheltenham on March 2 to meet up with Cyril, to reminisce and, maybe, make some music together again.
Cyril, 84, who has lived in Cheltenham all his life, said: "I was very surprised when Norman first got in touch with me. His friend at the dance told me Norman had been trying to get in touch with old members of the band.
"We have sent each other letters by airmail and spoken on the phone half a dozen times. It has brought back a lot of fond memories."
The retired toolmaker added: "I'm looking forward to seeing him again and reminiscing about the old days. We may even be able to play together again."
Norman, 79, went on to have a successful career as a session musician, including playing for Frank Sinatra.
He said he was delighted to reconnect with Cyril.
"I lost contact with the band members, but still have several good friends in Cheltenham dating back to my school days and through them I know that both the Tilley brothers have died.
"I assumed that the other members of the band would also have died," he said.
Twins Peter and Paul Tilley continued their band until 2000.
Norman and Cyril hope other members of the band will join them for the reunion.
If you played with the Tilley Brothers Band, call Cyril on 01242 239434.