Music Festival pioneer Lillian Convery dies aged 82 after years of being Mum

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A founding pioneer of the Harrogate International Youth Music Festival has died aged 82.

Lillian Convery was part of the Harrogate Worldfriends branch and helped house international language school students.

Together with her friends Margaret Britton and Margaret Eves she found host families for young musicians attending the very first International Youth Band Festival in 1973.

As the festival grew they were tasked with finding places for over 500 young musicians each year.

The first Director of the International Youth Music Festival, Mike King, said: “The Festival’s success, relied upon finding so much host family hospitality that it would have been impossible without Lillian and without her it would never have thrived as it did for so many years.”

Mrs Convery, known for her warmth and instinctive humanity, was the festival Matriarch and a surrogate Mum to youngsters from overseas.

Supported by her husband Bill and their daughter Christine she had great charm, unfailing kindness and a wonderful sense of humour and fun.

Mrs Convery was born in 1935 at Hebburn, County Durham, the eldest of four brothers and one sister.

Lillian and Bill came to Harrogate in 1962, when Bill took up the post of Management Accountant for construction company Walter G Birch, retiring in 1994 after 32 years with the company.

Their only daughter Christine helped with the organisation of every festival until, in 1977, Christine died in a car accident aged 20.

Life would never be the same again and later, Lillian was moved to write about their emotions after Christine’s death.

She wrote: “Who can know the void in which bereaved parents exist and the hell we live in. Inside we are crying empty shells, but fortunate in our love for each other without which neither of us could have stood the pain and suffering”.

Despite their ordeal Lillian and Bill carried on with future festivals.

Interviewed by the Harrogate Advertiser in the March 1981 Lillian said: “On the last night of the festival at the final concert in the Royal Hall when I see all the young people I have housed playing together then I know just how worth while my work really is.”

Lillian is survived by her husband Bill and her four brothers.