Memorial service for exceptional Sunderland-born musician

Des Lumsdon
Des Lumsdon
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A MEMORIAL service will be held next week for a Sunderland-born musician who played with more than 50 bands and orchestras, in a career spanning seven decades.

Des Lumsdon, 87, who played saxophone, clarinet and lute, died in November after a short illness.

His family has organised a memorial service as a tribute to his life and music, to be held at Castletown Methodist Church at 11.30am on Monday.

The family has strong connections with the church. Des’s grandfather was choirmaster there for more than 67 years, and his uncle was the church organist for 40 years.

Born in Castletown in March 1926, Des’s love of music began when he played the saxophone with his uncle, who ran a small band at Castletown village hall on Saturday nights.

After serving an apprenticeship at Doxford Shipyards, he joined the Merchant Navy and took his clarinet with him on his first voyage.

After the war, he found regular work with Sunderland band leaders Jackie Brown and Billy Carr at the Seaburn Hall, where he was talent-spotted by Bert Ambrose, who took him to London and the Café de Paris.

For more than two decades, Des played with some of the industry’s biggest names, including the likes of Eric Delaney, Syd Lawrence, Ken Mackintosh and Cyril Stapleton.

He chalked up appearances on Sunday Night at the London Palladium and several Royal Command Performances, and played with the BBC Radio and Come Dancing Orchestras, supporting the likes of Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and Englebert Humperdink.

His final, and longest-serving role, was with The Joe Loss Orchestra, which he joined in 1975. Joe died in 1990, but the orchestra carried on and Des continued on lead saxophone until his retirement in 2003.

Des is survived by wife Yvonne, children Paul, Peter and Julie, and grandchildren, Joe, Jemma, Jamie and Sophie.