A Song for Our Dear Friend Mark

One of Immingham's most famous sons returned to his musical roots to help raise money in memory of an old school friend. Gary Williams, one of the Grimsby area's greatest singing sensations, joined up with Immingham's Pelham Singers for a Christmas concert of Yuletide melodies at St Andrew's Church. Gary was born in Brewster Avenue, Immingham, and went to school with Mark Hole.

Mark (31), from Habrough, died from meningitis two years ago. His mother, Elaine Hole (59), of Cotham Gardens, Keelby, is a member of the Pelham Singers ladies' choir. She invited Gary to join them for a benefit concert. After an initial postponement, he joined the choir at St Andrew's Church, Immingham, for a resounding concert for Christmas.

Gary has finished his European tour with The Rat Pack, a tribute to Frank Sinatra and his contemporaries, which he is due to restart in February. He said: "Mark was my best friend at school. Even when we left school and got our first jobs we hung out together. "It was a terrible shock when I was told he had died. I did not know much about meningitis, but when you know someone who has had it you pay more attention. Mark was a good friend and a very sincere guy. He was ambitious and a great friend to have. He was so young when it happened - it is wrong. Things like that are not meant to happen. It does not make sense."

The singer said he hoped the concert would raise more awareness about the risks of meningitis. Gary, who has performed all over the world, joined Grimsby's Stage One when he left Immingham School, where both he and Mark were educated. Gary said: "I still see some of the old teachers around town and it is good to meet them after all those years.

"And I was blown away by the sound the choir makes. They have a lot of enthusiasm and energy. The concert is in memory of Mark, but it was not a sad occasion - it was a positive thing." Mark died in Aberdeen while he was working for BP. He contracted the virulent form of meningitis and died within days. Mrs Hole said her son's ashes were scattered over the course at Immingham Golf Club, where he and Gary played. The concert, at St Andrew's Church last Friday, raised funds for the special care baby unit at Grimsby's Diana, Princess Of Wales Hospital. The choir is now looking forward to putting on another concert on July 8 to raise cash for Meningitis Research. Peter Craig for The Grimsby Evening Telegraph

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