The ‘YPKO Forum Member Meet’ is organised by the community of the independent ‘Yamaha Personal Keyboard Owner’ website and has no affiliation with Yamaha Corporation or any direct involvement with James Woodcock.

I must admit, when I first heard of an event brewing on my Yamaha Personal Keyboard Owner discussion forum, I wasn’t exactly sure how to react. At first I wanted to distance myself as much as possible, as this is an area where I have no expertise. I already enjoy staying at the Yamaha Club’s Alvaston Hall weekend each year and this already presented me with the opportunity to mingle with the membership.

The community with their wisdom and enthusiasm gleaming from their musical souls, prepared months ahead the ‘Forum Meet’ that was to be held in Blackpool in March. No one in the early days of conception really knew for sure whether this member led event could actually work or even take place, but as time passed, everyone on the website (including myself) noticed the determination of the core organisers and finally after all the preparation and planning, the ‘Forum Meet 2008’ came along.

Hosted at the Sandringham Court Hotel, The ‘Forum Meet 2008’ had plenty of leg room for around 50 musicians, family and friends. The hotel management and staff contributed immensely to the success of the event, with fantastic food, tantalising light lunches (more like feasts!) and friendly involvement with their paying guests.

Trust me we needed the space, as Willie (Tyrosman) brought along enough equipment to perform a concert comparable to something you might expect at Wembley Stadium! Alright may be a slight exaggeration there, but we certainly weren’t left wanting for volume and this is one of the key areas where I was left so impressed with a large grin on my face stretching from side to side. It is no exaggeration however when I say to you, that my cheeks were actually hurting from all the laughter that prevailed during the entire weekend experience.

The Yamaha Personal Keyboard Owner community (or YPKO for short) absolutely shone all weekend and you couldn’t help but notice all of the smiling faces as you looked around the room. Neville had a brilliant idea by creating a set of name tags with our forum name and location displayed, which meant instantly you felt connected with everyone in the hotel. Whether you were shaking hands or patting backs, the YPKO membership took no time at all familiarising themselves, presenting their heartfelt enthusiasm for Yamaha keyboards and digital pianos as well as displaying admiration for each other.

As an act of appreciation for all my own hard work on this website, the members decided to run an auction and raffle. All contributions received were then donated to me to help fund Yamaha Personal Keyboard Owner.

I actually had a little speech planned, but I was just so shocked by the lovely support shown by everyone, I decided just to humbly thank the members and quickly exit to stage left to let the merriment continue.

blackpool 2008 024.jpgIn the evening, many of the players gave us excellent performances and remember, many are home enthusiasts who usually look up to the stage rather than feature on one. It is a nerve wracking experience for anyone who decides to take on the challenge and I respect you all for braving it and achieving so much.

I can’t continue without mentioning Georgi… He travelled all the way from Bulgaria to participate in all the fun and jocularity. Even after all that travelling, he managed to perform many of his original tracks and although no one had the courage to show you an English Waltz, I am sure we were dancing with joy with some certainly different musical delicacies.

Yamaha Personal Keyboard Owner may have started just a few years ago, but in that time, the community has steadily, yet impressively, increased in size yet still remains true to my original vision. The membership are so important in any endeavour, especially when based in the Internet realm and right here on YPKO, we all can enjoy the work undertaken by everyone, no matter how small, in creating this friendly enthusiast website endeavour. I may have been the provider of the building blocks for this community, however it has excelled in uniting so many people, all over the world, as has been evidently seen in this very first ‘YPKO Forum Member Meet’.

A special thank you to Keith Ball, who certainly lived up to his name making sure we all had a ball. Billy for his excellent compere work on stage (not to mention his hysterical Paddy jokes) and everyone who pitched in to help with preparations beforehand and at the weekend itself.

Congratulations to everybody.

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James Woodcock

James is a Freelance Journalist, Copywriter, Author, Blogger & Podcaster specialising in gaming, gadgets and technology, both retro and modern. Ever since he experienced the first controllable pixel movement on the television screen, he has been entranced by the possibilities and rewarding entertainment value generated from these metal and plastic boxes of delight. Writing hundreds of articles, including commentary and reviews on various gaming platforms, whilst also interviewing well-known industry figures for popular online publications. Creator of the ScummVM Music Enhancement Project and host of the Game & Gadget Podcast. View his portfolio here: James Woodcock's Portfolio.

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