VIDEO: Tributes to Jimmy the musician and man of faith

Away from the football pitch, Jimmy Armfield was a keen musician who was choirmaster and organist at his local church, St Peter's in Lytham Road.

Monday, 22nd January 2018, 4:54 pm
Updated Monday, 22nd January 2018, 5:10 pm
Jimmy Armfield accompanies Blackpool FC's carol concerts on the organ in 2013

And as part of his 80th birthday celebrations, Jimmy played the famous Wurlitzer organ at Blackpool Tower Ballroom - as a surprise in front of his family, friends and former playing colleagues.

Kate Shane, head of the Merlin attractions in Blackpool, was Blackpool Tower general manager at the time and helped arrange the birthday treat.

"When I took the job as general manager of the Tower in 2011, someone told me Jimmy had always wanted to play the Wurlitzer," she said.

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Jimmy Armfield accompanies Blackpool FC's carol concerts on the organ in 2013

"He is a legend in our house, my husband knew him as a player from being a kid and we're all Blackpool fans.

"So I thought; let's make this happen."

Jimmy and Kate met at a Civic Trust event and she put the idea to him.

He enjoyed a practice run when the ballroom was closed to guests, before the big night in 2015.

Blackpool and England footballing legend Jimmy Armfield celebrates his 80th birthday with a bash at the Tower Ballroom, sat with Wurlitzer player Peter Jebson

"His birthday party was an amazing event, Jimmy was surrounded by his family, friends and footballing friends," Kate said. "And made all the more special by ending the night with him on the organ.

"Jimmy was a genuinely kind and compassionate person; his reach was far and wide, beyond the football world.

"We've lost a true gent."

Vicar of St Peter's, Rev Tracey Charnock has also paid tribute to Jimmy as a 'humble man of many talents' who was 'almost self taught' in playing the organ, as well as being the church treasurer.

Jimmy Armfield accompanies Blackpool FC's carol concerts on the organ in 2013

Jimmy had been the organist and director of music there for many years, only stopping in recent months because of his ailing health.

"I've been at the church seven years and we had a great relationship," she said. "He would pop round to choose the hymns each week and he was a man of deep faith; he would ask about the readings and themes of the week's service and think about these in choosing the music.

"So many people have been in touch, not just from Blackpool but across the country, expressing their sadness for the family and the community of St Peter's."

Blackpool and England footballing legend Jimmy Armfield celebrates his 80th birthday with a bash at the Tower Ballroom, sat with Wurlitzer player Peter Jebson