Worthing accordion duo celebrate 25 years of playing together

As long-running musical partnerships go, you've got Chas and Dave, Simon and Garfunkel... and now, a duo from Worthing who are celebrating 25 years of playing together.

Shirley Verenne and Bill Perkins. Picture: Derek Martin
Shirley Verenne and Bill Perkins. Picture: Derek Martin

After seeing an advert in the Worthing Herald to join Shirley Verenne’s accordion group, Bill Perkins decided to give it a go.

The pair have been playing together since 1993 across the south coast and beyond, and will be marking the milestone with a concert at The Barn in English Martyrs Catholic Church, Goring Way, Goring on Saturday.

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Shirley Verenne and Bill Perkins. Picture: Derek Martin

Shirley said the secret to their longevity was in their stage name, Two in Accord. She said: “We get on very agreeably all the time, and that is why we are called that.

“Bill often says ‘we are in accord, as long as I agree to what Shirley wants to play!’.”

The 82-year-old from Heene Terrace, Worthing, first started playing when her father bought her an accordion aged 12, and picked up the hobby again in her 50s.

She took lessons with Keith Harling in Eastbourne, who wrote the UK’s runner-up Eurovision Song Contest entry behind Sandie Shaw’s Puppet on a String, which won overall in 1967. Both will be performed on Saturday.

After setting up Shirley’s Accordionists group, Shirley, Bill and the other 12 players raised thousands for charity and opened the remembrance service at the Worthing Pavilion.

As members retired a few years later, Shirley and Bill continued as a duo, with 91 engagements in a year at their peak including weddings in London, Burns Night dinners at the Royal Naval Club in Portsmouth and care homes, WI groups and shopping centres across the coast.

Although they play music from Latin to classical, Shirley’s favourite tune to perform is The Can-Can, while Scottish-born Bill, 78, remained loyal to his roots.

He said: “Playing is a challenge, but I love it because it is so different from all other instruments.”

Shirley said: “It has been very enjoyable. I’m very grateful to Bill’s wife for agreeing to let us practice so often and go to all these engagements.”

The concert is from 7.15pm to 10.30pm. Tickets cost £10, call Shirley on 01903 238 785.