A Very Special Message for Trefor and Kate Williams

Slap-bass playing with Max Collie’s Rhythm Aces, Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle, 2011

Having heard that he is not in the best of health, I, along with so many other fans and musicians, have been on tenterhooks waiting to find out more about Trefor Williams. When he sees this message, we hope it will give him – and Kate – good cheer!

2011: Eric Webster, Trefor Williams and Sammy Rimington back on Sammy’s old stomping ground in East Kent.

Barry Palser forwarded to me a message from Ian Turner, Trefor’s father-in-law, and I asked him (Barry) if I should post the update about Trefor here on Jazz&Jazz. I telephoned Barry again today and he urged me to go ahead.

Ian wrote:

Dear All,
After much to-ing and fro-ing  Trefor moved from the Kent and Canterbury Hospital to Saltwood Care Home, Tanners Hill, Hythe, Kent, where he has a lovely room overlooking lawn and trees. He is very frail but alert and Kate, who has been visiting him every day in various Kent hospitals, can relax a little now that he is within an easy bus ride of home. I know he would be pleased to hear from his many friends in the jazz world but, barring a miracle, I feel that his playing days are over. A fact that he is slowly coming to terms with. This email is addressed to musicians and friends in my address book but I know there must be more that you would like to inform. I’d be pleased if you could pass the message on.
Kindest regards,
Ian Turner.

Ian included Kate’s address so would anyone wishing to send her a message please email him: [email protected]

God Bless You, and Help You Keep Smiling, Trefor
Trefor has a special place in my heart because he was one of the first to welcome me back to the fold when I got back into jazz in 2009/10. His was one of the first jazz portraits I painted – along with Big Bertha, his beloved double bass – and he thanked me profusely for it with his usual “God Bless You” greeting.

Since then not a year has gone by without Trefor and I meeting up either in Kent for Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle and Sammy Rimington gigs, or when, visiting Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire to play locally, twice he stayed overnight with Ginny and me. He was most welcome!

A Fellow Musician Pays Tribute to Trefor

In the YouTube above Brian Carrick pays tribute to Trefor. They were playing at The Peartree Jazz Club in Welwyn Garden City. It was one of the occasions when Trefor stayed overnight with Ginny and me – at The Old Orchard, at that time our home in Lemsford.

So a very special message for Kate and Trefor: Keep smiling, buoyed up by wonderful memories of the good times. Even if perhaps your playing days might be over, Trefor. It would yet be great to see you both again sometime at a gig someplace in deepest East Kent.

God bless you, Trefor and Kate.

My 2012 Jazz&Jazz Interview with Trefor.

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

(Photos & YouTubes © Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz)

Below: A wonderful YouTube of Trefor with Phil Mason’s New Orleans All Stars at The Cotton Club, Hamburg, 2001. Good reason for his nickname “Fingers”! Thank you, Bernd Karpfen, for this!


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  1. Richard Elmes says:

    Thank you for posting this Peter, such a tragedy..
    Lovely man, lovely player

  2. Peter Butler says:

    Richard, Trefor means a lot to me! He coaxed me, no – revitalised me back into Jazz ten years ago and has supported my efforts ever since. So now it’s time to do what little I can to support him and Kate!

  3. Norman esdale says:

    Not only a great musician and a lovely gentleman but a great friend and a lover of Jesus………..a brother in the Lord !

  4. Norman Esdale says:

    Not only a great musician, a lovely gentleman and a lover of Jesus………both he & Kate are
    brother & sister in the Lord…….great friends !
    Our prayers are with you at this time .

    Many blessings
    Norman & Lynn

  5. tad newton says:

    All good wishes, prayers and thoughts to you Trefor…a true gentleman of jazz!

  6. Anders wasen says:

    Trefor always nice and kind. Especially to us in Second line jazzband.

  7. james Hatton says:

    Sending you all of my love today Trefor, a real pleasure to play music with you and I was touched by your kindness and your loving, welcoming way. James // The Lighthouse in Walmer

  8. John Healy says:

    I’m shocked and saddened to learn of Trefor’s adverse health condition and wish him all the very best.

  9. Tony Davis says:

    I didn’t know about Trefor’s illness – very sad. It was a privilege to meet and play with him at Dick Waterhouse’s “Jazz Christmas” in recent years; he is iindeed one of the nicest and kindest people you could wish to meet, and of course his playing has given enormous pleasure to so many people over the years. I’m sure their faith will give Trefor and Kate strength to deal with whatever the future holds.

  10. Sophie says:

    Yes I have seen Trefor in our local church and I hope I get to see him soon to tell him I enjoyed learning he played so fantastically well and is a joy to listen to. I will be praying for your health to return.

  11. Emile van Pelt says:

    Sad to hear this, such a nice gentleman and great bass player, I wish you and Kate all the best. Many blessings, Emile

  12. Peter Butler says:

    Kate has asked Pete Lay to ensure that this message is passed on to as many people as possible:

    Trefor ‘Fingers’ Williams

    As many know Trefor is unwell. Due to his M.S. and other medical matters he has had a series of relapses.. He suffered three periods in hospital after which it was clear that he needed more medical
    help and treatment than could be provided at home. He is now resident at Saltwood Care Centre,
    Tanners Hill, Hythe, CT21 5UQ, where is in safe hands and receiving good nursing care. He spends each day in bed, as content as possible and relieved of pain. He is coherent, enjoys a laugh and speaks of many positive past times. Tref just needs reminding occasionally, to get the ball rolling, and he then enjoys a chat. The home is positive and Tref has had many close friends and relatives visiting and supporting him through this time. Local musicians and punters have been calling in and his Church has been a blessing, visiting regularly. They surprised him last week when two of his congregation arrived unexpectedly followed by a group of thirteen or more who crowded into his room. The Pastor had brought her keyboard and the first hymn was How Great Thou Art.

    As many know it was a popular number played regularly at Church concerts all over Europe by Phil
    Mason’s New Orleans All Stars and sung by Christine Tyrell. It brought back memories for Tref. It couldn’t match the improvised harmonies of live jazz, but the melody and words evoked cheerful emotions and a few tears. Thank you to so many who have been concerned for Trefor’s sake and mine, sending cards, emails, messages etc. He’s in good hands.

    As Tref always says, “Onwards and Upwards”.

    God bless you all. Kate Williams x.

  13. Jenny Castell says:

    I am shocked to find out about Trefor. I married him in 1976 but sadly it did not work out. I have many happy memories of Trefor and Max Collie Rythme Aces. I have seen him a few times over the years and was lucky enough to meet his now wife Kate. Please pass on my very best wishes to them both. He is a good man. God Bless you Trefor

  14. Kate Williams says:

    Thank you for all your kind comments and tributes. Trefor passed away on Tuesday the 5th of September, at 2.10 am. It was sad but at the same time a relief to know that he is no longer suffering, and is at peace with the Lord. He’ll be looking down right now, smiling and shouting Hallelulia!

  15. Nicola Vowles says:

    Hi Jenny,
    I just heard about Tref on an email about Jazz up north. I have just looked up this website. What a shock, I did not know he was even ill. Did you know Jenny? This is Mrs Jumpin Jack (Nicky!) Gilbert here by the way. How are you doing and where are you living? I am still in Burgess Hill. My email is:………….. [email protected] Please drop me a line. Still the same tel number. 01444 244801 but not in much. Text me is better as I am now caring for a cousin:( 0756 131 9893. Would be nice to hear from you
    I married again but he died (also of cancer) in 2013. I still have dogs and no jazz. I still have the photo album that you made up for me after Jack died. Didn’t we all look so young and slim – especially Tref?!!!
    “Funny ‘ol days” as Jack would say.
    Love Nicky

  16. Nicola Vowles says:

    Dear Kate,
    This is Nicky, who was married to Jack Gilbert (Jumpin Jack) in the MCRA. We last met at Jack’s funeral. I am devastated to hear about your lovely Trefor. I had not heard any whisper through the grapevine. A lovely man, as others have said “a real gentleman”. What better words could be said? I know the awful tearing pain that comes when someone you love dies. I am so, so sorry for you Kate. My heart goes out to you at this very difficult time.
    Love to you,

  17. Jenny Castell says:

    I only found out last night through a phone call from Pete Marr. My heart goes out to you and will be thinking of you today for his funeral. He was a lovely man.

    Jenny Castell

  18. Les Bacon says:

    Trefor had a unique playing style and I remember him playing with Max Collie & The Rhythm Aces for all of those years which, looking back was a great period for the band and I think that Trefor held the band together with his fabulous playing – the band was sensational and truly entertained audiences everywhere that they played- They are greatly missed – Thank God I’ve got most of the vinyl albums to remember the band by!

    Les Bacon

    R.I.P. Trefor

  19. Kate Williams says:

    Dear Nicky,
    Trefor is at peace now. With help he had been coping with his illness, until having to accept major changes in his life- being told he could no longer drive , cancelling a holiday and no longer playing. He suffered 2 relapses, after which he was admitted to a very good nursing home that gave quality care for Trefs last month of life on earth. He passed away peacefully. Funeral took place on the 26/9, and was a celebration to Trefors life. Many friends, family, jazz punters and musicians were there. Jonny Boston spoke of how much he had to thank Trefor for. playing a part in the start of his musical career. As Tref always said ,’onwards and upwards’! God Bless, Kate x

  20. Peter Butler says:

    Dear Kate
    Like Jonny, I too have so much to thank Trefor and you for, especially when he welcomed me back to the jazz community some 10 years ago. I so enjoyed painting his portrait playing Big Bertha. He came and stayed overnight with us on a couple of occasions for jazz gigs. I’m truly sorry Ginny and I couldn’t make it to his funeral – I now have some health issues which, when they kick in, make it difficult for me to drive too far.

    May the Almighty continue to comfort you, Kate,


  21. Ken Hodges says:

    I would like to extend my commiserations to Trefor’s wife Kate! You won’t know me Kate, but I have fond memories of Trefor which go way back. So many years in fact, that it is frightening! Trefor used to play bass with a trio I had at the Romford United Services Club. He had only just started out then, and if my memory serves me correctly he also used to work at the ‘Romford Recorder’ He wasn’t married at this stage, so he may not have spoken to you about earlier times. Anyway, I have good memories of the gigs we did together, but we more or less lost contact when in the early seventies I moved away from Romford to live in Cornwall. It was only in recent times I became aware that he was ill, and had intended to make contact, sadly I left it too late! Please therefore accept my warmest wishes!
    Ken Hodges

  22. Peter Butler says:

    A wonderful message, Ken, which I will include in a further tribute I plan for Trefor. Especially as he and I sometimes spoke about Romford. I lived there during the same years, but we didn’t meet up until much later in life.

  23. Kate Williams says:

    To all of you dear people that have written words of tribute for Trefor, many thanks. Another time of year has arrived without Tref’s company. It was the annual Good Friday service held at the top of sugar loaf hill today. In the past we used to take a picnic and sit, overlooking Folkestone with a congregation of around 150 more Christians. I’ll never forget the year Tref helped carry the cross from the town centre. His back was aching a few days afterwords, though he was at an advantage to others, having built up such strength carrying dear Burtha. Recently many books, jazz vinyl records, and his two spare double basses were sold. As Trefor wished, profit has been donated to the Jazz Archives. Burtha is still at home, standing dignified at the top of the landing. I can’t part with her (yet). Onwards and upwards. Bless you all. Kate.x

  24. Peter Butler says:

    Thank you for this, Kate. I will never forget the time, some ten years ago, when Trefor first introduced Ginny and me to you and Burtha at The Autumn Jazz Parade, Hemsby. After that we became good friends and he always supported my efforts in support of Jazz. He came and stayed with us a couple of times when he had a jazz gig close by our home in Lemsford. And we got together annually at Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle Festivals. It has been my privilege to feature him on Jazz & Jazz.

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