Barry Gibb attends Bunburys Pro-Celebrity Cricket Match,
30th May 2004, Imber Court, Surrey.
© Report By Stephanie Thorburn
It was certainly a week of charged emotions and accolades for Barry Gibb during his stay in the UK. Having received CBE honours from Buckingham Palace on 27th May, a relaxing homecoming was offered as he and family attended a Bunburys pro-celebrity cricket match in Surrey. Barry was supporting a star-studded roster of personalities from the worlds of music, sport and media, featuring the Bunburys versus Sir Trevor McDonald’s X1; all proceeds for the afternoon were in aid of The National Missing Persons Helpline. The Bunburys project is an initiative founded in 1987 by David English MBE, when he set about realising his ambition, working tirelessly to raise money for charity through his love of cricket and popular music. Barry Gibb has worked in a range of contexts with David over time. Initially David was President of RSO Records, nurturing the innate talents of the Bee Gees and Eric Clapton, and he has since co-written the album The Bunburys Tales (1992) with Barry. There could be no more evocative a setting for the creative spirit however than his 21st century cricket project, quintessentially English and suitably eccentric. David summarises the essence of this project as, “what life is all about, it has passion, emotion, excitement, skill, determination, friendship, success and laughter.” Indeed ‘The Bunbury Tales’ could practically be a biography of the Bee Gees!
Featuring David English with Barry doing a signing, - he spent most of his day offering fan's autographs! © Linda Thorburn
With intermittent outbursts of rain throughout the afternoon, the conditions were not perfect for an idyllic summers outing last Sunday, yet the water did little to dampen the dynamics of the occasion. Barry was supported by an army of dedicated fans clutching a selection of vinyl and discs representing the past four decades of the Bee Gees. My first glimpse of the man himself was suitably gracious and gentile. Wearing a cream sports casual outfit, he moved around the perimeters of the VIP area methodically signing each and every autograph as the crowds assembled, from Saturday Night Fever to This Is Where I Came In. Barry completed his signings with a sparkling flourish in his eyes as he turned to the solace of the club- house, by now rain was simply pouring from the heavens. This was for me a signal for my boldest manoeuvre of the day as I negotiated my way into the warmth. Entering the upstairs tea room revealed a scene that could well have been taken from a documentary exploring the family trees of the illustrious ‘Brothers Gibb’. Barry was surrounded in regal style by Linda and his family, whilst Yvonne Gibb was also enjoying a low-key wind down at the close of a week which had offered both tributes and reflection.
Me with Barry during our conversation. © Linda Thorburn
Seizing the moment, I approached Barry and soon became a woman in the middle of the action as he negotiated further signings and requests. I was fortunate enough to chat for a few minutes discussing the conscientious work of the BGFC and Brothers Gibb organisations. He stressed that he had “no official announcements to make” at this stage, however more importantly for his fans he would like to offer a simple message by passing on “all his love”. By now Barry was just seconds away from leaving for his next engagement, and I couldn’t help but finish our conversation by congratulating him on his CBE. Genuinely taken aback, with tears in his eyes he kissed a thanks, then left as the sun rose back up high into the sky above the Metropolitan Police Sports ground. Today had indeed seen some very special events and visitors, a day to be savoured for many years to come! As to the cricket, well Trevor McDonald’s X1 won following a total of 232 by the Bunburys, although Barry didn’t quite stay to see this. Lloyd Hunnigan and his son put in some sterling work on the field, whilst Mike Gatting and Robin Smith had excellent innings. To complete the experience of the afternoon, Alistair Griffin posed for some snaps for this very special ‘fame academy’ sports club, a project facilitated by the talent and good will of all those who allow the spirit of the Bunburys to touch their hearts.