A LONG-STANDING variety troupe is getting back together after an 18-month Covid-caused lull in performances.

Sherburn Village Jolly Boys have been treading the boards at social clubs and village halls round County Durham since 1964, raising an estimated £288,000 for worthy causes in the process.

But time has taken its toll on membership with the once 67-strong band of entertainers now reduced to between 15 and 20.

Since their last performance, prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, another long-serving member has passed on.

Singer and all-round musician John ‘The Answer’ Fallon, from Carrville, died late last year, in his early 80s.

He earned his nickname from his favoured signature tune, performed countless times at Jolly Boys’ charity concerts down the years.

Chairman, treasurer and founding secretary George Jopling met Mr Fallon, better known as ‘Jackie’, on his first day working underground at Sherburn Hill Colliery.

“I had to work at the shaft where the tubs go in and he was my instructor.

“He was 19 and I was 16 at the time. He was in a group of five who sang at clubs in Consett.

“He entertained all his life and sang more than Des O’Connor.

“He was one of the nicest people I have ever met and never heard him say a bad word about anyone.

“He was still singing to the end.”

Musical director Neil Straughan said: “Musicians have come and gone, but Jackie was with us for about 30 years and one of the best singers we’ve had.

“He really was excellent and did a wide range of material.”

Happy memories of performing with ‘Jackie’ will be recalled as surviving members gather at Sherburn Village Workingmen’s Club tonight, at 7pm, for the first time since early last year.

They hope to resume rehearsals with a view to a returning to the stage in coming months.