Imagine how today’s kids would react if Harry Kane or Little Mix made a point of dropping in on their play centre from time to time.
Crooner Frankie Vaughan was at the height of his popularity in the 1950s and 60s when the lads at Crawley Boys’ Club were treated to several visits from the man himself.
Frankie was a member group of the National Association of Boys’ Clubs in the UK, and during his career he was a major contributor to the clubs, giving money from one song each year to them.
In October 1958, he took to the stage at Hazelwick School at a youth dance organised to raise cash for the Boys’ Club – then based in Ifield Avenue – and it was reported that his presence caused a near riot.
The Crawley Observer dated October 31 reported on screaming girls, disparaging boys and the local police trying to keep them all under control.
When Frankie signed autographs he borrowed a pen from 27-year-old Joan Felton, of The Dingle, West Green, who ran his fan club.
Joan was rewarded with a kiss and declared: “I’ll never use this pen again!”
The Observer reported: “The first to get Frankie’s autograph was 16-year-old Yolette Roberts, a Co-op girl of Donn Close, Pound Hill. What did she think of the ‘big man’? Same as everyone else – ‘S-m-a-s-h-i-n’.”
In 1962 the Boys’ Club moved to London Road at a cost of £25,000, and was opened by the Duke of Richmond.
In November of that year, Frankie returned, being welcomed by club leader Bill Ward. He had stopped off at Cloakes’ record shop, in the Broadway, before going on to the club and staying through the afternoon and into the evening.
The Observer reported that he lifted weights in the club gym and joined a group of boys in the quiet room for a game of draughts.
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