Winifred Atwell show ends with celebration at the graveside

KEYNOTE: Jan Preston, pianist and performer of Jan Preston’s Life and Music of Winifred Atwell at the memorial yesterday for the honky-tonk great (inset).
KEYNOTE: Jan Preston, pianist and performer of Jan Preston’s Life and Music of Winifred Atwell at the memorial yesterday for the honky-tonk great (inset). Cathy Adams

AROUND 40 people gathered at the South Gundurimba Cemetery yesterday to honour the late Winifred Atwell on the 30th anniversary of her death.

While many of the attendees didn't know her personally, they were there because they had been in some way touched by Winifred's music and her story.

Many had come from a special tribute performance at Lismore Workers Club by pianist Jan Preston.

Ms Preston organised the memorial and said she was overwhelmed by the show of people at the Trinidad-born, British pianist's graveside.

"It's lovely to see you all here, to know that you still remember Winifred Atwell, to know that she hasn't been forgotten by us in Australia," Ms Preston said.

"Winnie, we want to thank you for your extraordinary contribution to piano music history.

"She was phenomenal."

People spoke of not only Winifred's music and her part as a honky-tonk great, but of her kind heart and her life of charity and service to others - speaking out on behalf of indigenous Australians and raising enormous amounts of money for blindness charities.

"We thank her for her joyfulness, for her warmth and love," Ms Preston said.

"Thirty years after she last played a note, we're here and that goes to show how well she reached out and touched us."

Carol Bonomy, of McLeans Ridges had come out for the memorial, she said, because "I just loved Winnie".

She said she had seen Winifred play in Lismore when she was 12 or 13 on a school bus trip, and just adored her from then on.

Topics:  editors picks memorial

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