THERE is nobody from Northwich who got closer to the Beatles that the late Gwili Lewis.

In the 1960s, when the band played their gigs before packed out audiences, he was the manager of Northwich Memorial Hall.

On Sunday mornings, I used to sit down with Gwili for a cup of tea and chat after the service at Castle Community Church in Northwich.

Sadly, that all came to an end after Gwili passed away peacefully after a long and successful life in June last year, aged 98.

One Sunday morning, in his usual charming and entertaining manner, Gwili told me more about what went on behind the scenes on Carnival Day 1963, which saw The Beatles perform in Verdin Park.

The band had arrived early that day and they were awaiting Gwili at the old police station.

Gwili said: “My job was to drive them around the Northwich suburbs for a couple of hours in a van to conceal them from the crowds.

“Thousands of people were waiting their arrival on Verdin Park, and once I had the secret sign, I drove into the park with fans thinking I was making a food delivery.

Northwich Guardian:

Gwili Lewis with Northwich resident John Hulme

“Well once the van door was opened, it was mayhem with girls screaming, and the crowd stampeded and lunged forward to be nearer the Liverpool Lads.

“It must have been a nightmare for Catherine Millington, the Carnival Queen, as she looked down from the stage on the hysterical crowd.

“When we got back to the Memorial Hall, Paul and Ringo realised they had left their stage jackets at home.

“My next job was to get them out of the Memorial Hall without being seen so they could return to Liverpool for their jackets and, of course, I was then concerned that we would not have the Fab Four on stage that evening but the Fab Two.

“But that is the reason why there is only George and John on the photo.

READ> When the Fab Four came to Northwich

“I remember the scene well in the dressing room, as it was Ringo’s 23rd birthday on the Sunday and the fans had asked me to take into their dressing room packets of his favourite sweets – jelly babies.

“I also recall taking bundles of letters and autograph albums into the dressing room as they broke at the interval.

“I apologised for disturbing them on their rest break, at which John Lennon said to me: ‘Don’t worry Taff. The time to worry is when all this ends’.”