Tribute to popular musician Bernard

Bernard Brooks
Bernard Brooks
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Tribute has been paid to a popular organ player who used to entertain thousands with his music.

George Bernard Woodhall, better known as Bernard Brooks, used to play to families at Butlins but went on to entertain people in hotels in Eastbourne and much further afield.

The 86-year-old Yorkshire man moved in with good friend Joan Coldham in her Eastbourne home in 1998. The pair had previously met when the dance teacher headed to Saltdean for a holiday and he was playing there. They struck up a conversation and during the visit Mrs Coldham met another Joan and they went on to become friends and dance partners.

The three then went on to begin their own dance club called BJ’s and while Bernard played the organ the two Joans would sequence dance and teach guests in hotels the steps. They also took part in a festival at the Winter Garden in Eastbourne and proved a massive hit with the audience.

Mrs Coldham said, “Bernard became more popular as time went on. Ross Mitchell, leader of the Big Band, said to him I have never heard one single player play like that in my life, you should make a record.”

He went on to make a series of them titled Sing and Sway the Bernard Brooks Way, which was inspired by his idol Sammy K.

She said, “He was never a big-headed man. He had a tremendous sense of humour. He was a comedian, he was so dry.

“I thought the world of him and he did me. We were wonderful friends and we had some wonderful times.”

Bernard, who had diabetes, became unwell several years ago and was in a nursing home when he was rushed to hospital and died two weeks later on June 23.

His funeral is taking place on July 15 at 2.30pm at Eastbourne Crematorium and his ashes are set to be scattered in Yorkshire.