Halloween Laurel and Hardy

They came from all four corners of the UK - and beyond! Yes, it was time for the Sons of the Desert to, once again, head Way Out West, East, North and South to the Holiday Inn, Chatham for the Helpmates Halloween Convention.

Numbers attending were well up on last yearís event. Itís always pleasing to see new faces as well as those who have been coming for many years, myself included Ė this being my 27th year!


Photo montage taken by Thomas Bath

Among the others attending were several Laurel and Hardy authors and experts who were on hand to answer any questions we had, or to exhibit their collections. These included David Wyatt (L&H films); Glenn Mitchell (L&H Encyclopaedia); Ray Andrew (The Life of Charlie Hall); Dave Tomlinson (L&H autographs); Russell Babidge (The Sound Shorts); Antony & Joanne Mitchell-Waite (L&H in advertising and cartoons); Roger Robinson (L&H in Southend); Mark and Teresa Hammond (autographs, posters, box office cards).

Welcome desk


As always, there were 2 film rooms showing a good selection of films. At this point, a big thank you should go to Richard Ellis for compiling all the discs, providing all of the projection and sound equipment and for keeping film room 1 running smoothly. The second film room was under the excellent supervision of Gregg Taylor. Trevor Dorman also helped from afar by providing show discs.

A highlight of mine at the Helpmates conventions are the presentations and talks that are given by some of the experts attending. This yearís presentation was introduced by Russell Babidge with expert contributions from Dave Wyatt and Glenn Mitchell. Called L & H on the Beeb, it detailed the history of Laurel & Hardy showings on the BBC (yes, they did actually used to be on television!!) and why some of the prints of the films had some strange edits etc. Russell also told us about an app for the iPad that he is developing which will allow the user to explore various aspects of the Laurel and Hardy films, co-stars, locations etc.

One of the other items shown was the 1974 BBC Omnibus about the boys, called Cuckoo, narrated by Morecombe & Wise. The difference with this version is that Russell Babidge has restored it into High Definition. To start with Russ showed us a split screen demonstration with the original and restored versions side by side. Dave Wyatt also explained how they added and duped the prints into original. Russ, not only restored the original interviews, he replaced all the film clips of their films and where possible every still photo used. Not only that he overlaid all the on screen captions so they appeared nice and sharp. I have got to say the finished result was absolutely stunning. St a BIG thank you to Russ for screening it at our event.


Another feature, courtesy of Russell, was a quiz. The idea was for 2 people (one from each half of the room) to identify the Laurel & Hardy film from a still. Not as easy as it sounds for 2 reasons! Firstly, the picture started off very close up and zoomed out slowly. Secondly, some of the stills were of deleted scenes or never-before-seen publicity shots! Thanks Russell!!!! However, my half of the room were victorious, but modesty does not allow me to name the person who identified the all-important final film!!

Laurel and Hardy Quiz

An ever-popular feature of the convention is the sales room, jam-packed with all sorts of different memorabilia, including some rare items, figures etc. The raffle also had some splendid prizes, many kindly donated by members, including autographs of L&H co-stars and a wonderful collection of trading cards.


One of the attendees, James Peedell, is a Stan Laurel impersonator and he has been looking for his Oliver Hardy.  As can be seen in the photo, he may well have done so in the form of Gregg Taylor. We are hoping for an appearance at next yearís convention.

James Peedles Gregg 




Apart from those already mentioned, thanks must also go to Kevin Doig for acting as emcee, Celia Attree for selling the raffle tickets. Also, Andy Bath and Kay Towsey for running the sales room all day.

Over the years, the team of helpers has changed, but one person has been there all along.  I would like to add my own personal thanks, not only to Rob Lewis, but to his daughters, Claire and Gemma and his whole family who spend the day helping out, from setting up the rooms, greeting and registering the attendees, manning the sales stall, socialising and then ensuring everything is packed up the next morning.

 Now itís time to start planning for the next one.  Make a note of 29 October 2016.  Iíll be there.  Will you?  I hope so!! 


Chump at Oxford Ghost

BS. And not forgetting our GHOST who escaped the maze from 'A CHUMP AT OXFORD'!

ROBS NOTE: Thanks to you Howard for also helping on the day. We would love it if more members and fans joined us for future events. So we have included some of the many messages received after the event to perhaps encourage others to come along.


Hi Rob
             just like to say what a great day I had at the convention and a very well done to you for making the day possible can't wait now till next year hope to talk to you soon

Steve Hood

Had a fantastic time at the convention. Met some old friends and made some new ones including James Peedell who I have agreed to be his Oliver Hardy to his Stan Laurel and next year's convention and possibly beyond. Also picked up a fantastic piece of memorabilia imported from China this is a box of sweets with Stan & Ollie not only on the front of the box but also on the sweet wrappers. Had a fantastic time being in charge of film room 2 and also being involved in the quiz. I wish to thank Rob Lewis, Gemma Sycamore, Howard Parker and all the rest of the crew for another fantastic day. Topped last year by a country mile and can't wait until next year!!!!!!!!!

Gregg Taylor

Absolutely loved the day - thanks for organising. Me and my boy were in fits of laughter throughout. I will recomember it, for sure!

Matt Finch

The convention was amazing fun. Lovely to hear all the youngsters laughing so much. Thank you Rob Lewis and team for another great event!

Bev Nickolls

Hi Rob,
             Yet again you have masterminded another great Helpmates Convention. What a wonderful and slightly spooky atmosphere there was at this Halloween Special. It was particularly rewarding to see the mix of young children, families and senior citizens all being together and enjoying the timeless comedy of Laurel and Hard

Thanks go to all your family and band of helpers for ensuring that we had a FUNtastic time.

Roger Robinson Ė Saps at Sea

Hi Rob,
Great convention, I enjoyed this one more the most, especially the three talks and quiz.
I'll definitely go again next year.

Peter Andrews.

Hi Rob,
            I'd just like to compliment you on another excellent convention - I enjoyed it very much and am already looking forward to next year's event. Well done!

David Pickard

Had a really great time at the convention, enjoyed meeting and chatting with fellow Sons.
The sales room cost me a small fortune (I can never resist adding to my collection) but was worth every penny.
The display rooms where outstanding and it was amazing to see such a huge collection of autographs from all the co-stars and stock company as well as the Boys.
Dave Tomlinson also had a great display of autographs and forgeries and it was very interesting to hear him talk about his work and how to spot the forgeries.
An excellent choice of films on show and the Russell Babidge talk was also of great interest.
I must admit that it was nice to finish the night off with 2 wins in the raffle as well; the Bollinger is going to a good home.
Well done Rob and everyone else connected with the organising of a great convention.

Arnold Beerswiller

Thanks Rob for a enjoyable weekend . It goes by all to quick, we really thought it the films and Halloween theme worked well . Thanks for all your hard work that goes into the conventions.

Tony & Cerise Crook

Another great convention Rob. You and your team did another fantastic job.

Simon Embleton

Great to meet you Rob and we had a brill time.

Russell Morhen

Thanks Rob and all your Helpmates. Another wonderful day...the sound of pure laughter from so many people was as Mr Hardy would say 'Splendid' Marvellous to catch up with fellow Sons. Stan & Ollie working their magic all these years on...truly magical.. A Perfect Day as all the conventions are...

Tony Butcher

Dear Rob

I just wanted to say thanks very much for the Laurel and Hardy convention on the 31 October 2015.

I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the films. It was great to see the Flying Deuces in HD and the Omnibus documentary. The presentations were really good too and the Raffle had great prizes.

I was very pleased to win the Trading card album with different film stars and Laurel and Hardy Film posters. I know you and everyone else works very hard so people enjoy the day.

Thanks again, Best Wishes David Bye

My first Convention. A great day, with a fantastic atmosphere and well organised entertainment. Many thanks to all involved. I will def attend again.

Mark Stephens

Thank you for a great convention. Logistics from the far north meant that we could not stay as long as we would have wished. Once again, a great day was had, I am sure, by all.

Dr. A.F.MacDonald

Hi Rob

I wanted to reiterate what I said to you at the weekend and thank you, and all those who helped, make the convention a day to always remember. Please pass my thanks on.

It was lovely to meet you and be able to put a face to the name who's emails I look forward to receiving.

It was the first time that my friend and I, who share a mutual love for all things Laurel & Hardy, had attended and we both loved it. It is going to be the perfect excuse for us to meet up every year, as Phil lives way up north and I near Gatwick.

Here's looking forward to the next one already !!

Kindest Regards Lee Holloway

Another great get together, worth coming over from Cyprus for and so great to see and share times with old friends, WELL DONE ROB and all who helped , looking forward to the next one.

Bill Winfield

Hi Rob,
Just to say what a Spooktacular the convention was I thoroughly enjoyed it immensely!
Cannot wait for next years as always!
Regards Anthony Quarterman

Well done Rob Lewis and all the L&H Convention helpers, another great day out, the hotel was fab too, very enjoyable - thank you so much.

Daz K

Hi Rob,

Just wanted to drop you a line to say how much the three of us enjoyed the Laurel & Hardy convention - my husband went to one about 20 years ago, in May time, but it was the first time for our daughter and myself and we hope to join you again in future years -
Many thanks,

The Williams family

Hi Rob,

                just a brief email to say how much last weekend's Convention meant to myself & my best mate, Lee Holloway. It was our first time at a Convention, despite being life-long fans of 'the Boys' & we met some fantastic characters, saw some fabulous sights & literally had a superb time!
Your organisation was faultless & the Venue was excellent, even the weather (which we up north spend our lives complaining about) was ridiculously good! Talked about little else since I got home ~ the Missus feels like she was there My father-in-law (80yrs old) is also a life-long fan & the book I presented him with, brought tears of joy to his eyes.
So, thank you for putting so much of your time into giving, for us real L & H fans, such an event, it is relished & appreciated from our hearts

Yours fraternally (of course)
Phil Normile