Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Frank Could Tell the Cheekiest of Jokes and Get Away with It

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Frank Could Tell the Cheekiest of Jokes and Get Away with It

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Lawson Reporter

AN old pal of the late Frank Wappat has spoken of his fond memories playing the organ at the veteran broadcaster's Tyneside church.

John Hepple played the grand instrument for 10 years alongside the revered preacher during his time at North Shields Memorial Church after Frank poached him from a nearby church.

The pair became firm friends and John, of Dumpling Hall, Newcastle, has paid tribute to Frank who he describes as a funny and much-loved man.

Frank, who was also worked for the BBC for 40 years as a presenter, died on his 84th birthday earlier this week after suffering from heart failure at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary. John and Frank's friendship began in the mid to late 1980s when John was called to Frank's church to tune a piano.

The 78-year-old said: "I first went to his church in North Shields when I went to tune his piano. I saw the massive organ there and I told him I played and I went on and it wasn't long before he was running up and down giving me music to play.

"He wanted me to start playing there but I said I played for another church along the road and the next thing I know he'd announced on the radio that I would be playing there. He was a funny man."

Frank began his broadcasting career via the pirate station Radio 390 on the Thames Estuary and then moved to the Tyneside station in 1970. He went on to become its longest-serving presenter drawing in thousands of followers along the way.

Radio listeners will know him best for his work producing and presenting two BBC Newcastle shows - Sunday morning's Inspirational Show from 6am to 7.30am and the awardwinning Frank Wappat Music show from 7pm to 10pm. Before he turned to radio he was a Methodist lay preacher, but quickly fell foul of the church authorities whom, he claims, did not like his "religion can be enjoyable! …

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