Teacher and Folk Musician' Bill's family are sad to announce that Bill passed away at home on 17th June 2023, aged 86 years. The cherished husband of Pat, beloved father of William and Stephen and devoted grandfather of Charles.  

Just a few of the many songs written by Bill Meek, either solo or in collaboration with John Conolly, which have brought so much pleasure to lovers of sea-songs the world over. Followers of their music will be saddened to hear of Bill’s death at the age of 86, after a period of illness following a stroke. A celebration of Bill’s life was held at Grimsby Crematorium on 11th July 2023, and he is survived by his loving wife Pat, his two sons Will and Steve, and his much-loved grandson Charlie.

Bill and John were brought up in the 1940s, just a few streets from each other, not far from the Grimsby Fish Docks, but didn’t actually meet until 1963, when Bill spotted an advert in the Grimsby Telegraph (inserted by John Conolly and Bob Blair) asking if anyone was interested in starting a Folk Music Club in Grimsby. Bill was the first to respond, proudly waving the only Ewan MacColl record known to exist at that time in North Lincolnshire as his passport to membership. . .

It was by no means his only qualification for running a Folk Club however – as John and Bill continued to sing together in Grimsby Folk Song Club’s first resident group “THE MEGGIES” (later to become “BROADSIDE”),it’s fair to say that Bill became the driving force behind the success of the Club, and its later offspring, the Cleethorpes Folk Festival . He was an excellent organiser, had a great singing voice, and was a fabulously witty M.C., whose ability to demolish an unwary heckler with one shot was legendary. . .

And then there came the songs – the many songs Bill and John wrote together over the years, usually sparked off by Bill’s poetic and evocative lyrics. The first of these to be published were two of Bill’s trawling ballads –

HERE’S TO THE GRIMSBY LADS and A LUMPER’S LIFE, which their Folk heroes Ewan and Peggy helped to get printed in one of the leading Folk magazines of the day. Countless collaborations later, John is still delighted to hear their songs being sung and celebrated in far-flung corners of the world. As Dr. Fred Woods said in his book “FOLK REVIVAL” – “ The Folk Grapevine has scattered their songs far and wide, and the quality is equally widely-recognised”.

Bill was a man of many talents – while studying Geology at Birmingham University, he became top-scorer for the Combined British Universities football team, and was offered terms by Birmingham City. . . sadly, however, a knee injury scuppered his chances of being a professional footballer. He became instead an excellent schoolteacher, who is still remembered with respect and affection by ex-pupils in many walks of life. The songs Bill wrote will certainly live on – it is possible, however, that the passion for learning which he passed on to his students will be his most lasting legacy.


JOHN CONOLLY ( with thanks to STEVE MEEK ).