Hundreds of voices united in song at Batley Central Methodist Church for a rousing send-off for Mr Wilkinson, a man who was known throughout the area and beyond for his wonderful deep bass voice.
Born into a musical family in Ossett, he moved to Dewsbury as a boy and sang his first solo as a soprano at Westborough Methodist Church. Mr Wilkinson, who died aged 83, was blessed with a strong, resonant bass voice that had a special quality that all who heard him never forgot. He entered many music festivals and often swept the board, bringing home many certificates and trophies, including at the Mrs Sunderland Music Festival in Huddersfield.
He lived in Staincliffe for the last 28 years of his life with his wife Susan, a professional musician. During his long singing life he took part in many productions including ‘Showboat’ at Wakefield Theatre Royal and Huddersfield Town Hall – where he was particularly remembered for his signature song ‘Ol’ Man River.
His voice remained deep, strong and vibrant to the end.
A longstanding bass member of Huddersfield Choral Society, Mr Wilkinson died exactly 44 years to the day that he joined them. Around 100 members of the ‘Choral’ sang at his funeral, along with Gledholt Male Voice Choir, Huddersfield, which he joined in 2002. He was also a member of Batley Gilbert and Sullivan society and often performed lunchtime concerts at Dewsbury and Huddersfield town halls.
Mr Wilkinson was carried out of the church in a silver and glass hearse to cheers and applause. He was taken by horse-drawn carriage to Dewsbury Crematorium by his wife’s brother Duncan, of Elite Horse Drawn Carriages’, based in Wyke. Duncan had carried the couple in a horse-drawn carriage to their wedding at the church in 1986.