Alan Bell, who has died aged 84, was a folk singer, songwriter, festival organiser and activist, but earned his living as a sales manager in the wine trade. His best-known song, Bread and Fishes, written in 1968, is still widely sung in churches and schools, was featured on television's Songs of Praise and reached the charts in Ireland and Japan.

Alan's first payment was a couple of bottles of beer for performing six Woody Guthrie songs in the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel in the Lake District in the mid-1950s. He had just been demobbed after national service in Korea and the skiffle boom was under way. He soon turned to British folk songs and joined the Taverners quartet, who started the highly successful Blackpool Folk Club in 1961. They recorded four albums and did as many gigs across the north of England as their day jobs allowed, disbanding in 1981, after performing at a Royal Command Performance in Blackpool. The son of Reginald Bell, an RAF driving instructor, and Lilian (nee Brooks), a barmaid, Alan was born in Gorton, Manchester, but grew up in Fleetwood on the Fylde coast in Lancashire, attending Hodgson secondary school in Poulton-le-Fylde. The Fylde and the Lakes provided much of the inspiration for Alan's songwriting. Windmills, The Lakeland Fiddler, Alice White and Song for Mardale all referred to specific people, places and incidents, and even Letters from Wilfred, about the poet Wilfred Owen, referred to the time Owen was stationed in Fleetwood. So, Here's To You, has become a standard end-of-the-night song, especially in Ireland and Scotland. In the 70s, Alan was principal songwriter for Granada Television's series Ballad of the North-West. Inspired by Ewan McColl's Radio Ballads for the BBC, he later wrote several song cycles, which were performed and recorded by his own band, often incorporating brass bands and choirs. The Band in the Park won an Italia radio prize, Wind, Sea, Sail and Sky celebrated Fleetwood's 150th anniversary and The Century's People told the stories of local people - local themes, but universal messages. Frustrated that the north-west had no major folk festival, he started the Fylde Festival in Fleetwood in 1973. It quickly grew, in size and reputation, was well integrated into the local community, and continued the area's strong tradition of entertainment. There were clog dance and dialect competitions and a music hall night as well as concerts from many famous names in folk music Here he was strongly supported by his wife, Christine, who was festival secretary. Always encouraging of younger performers, he obtained Arts Council funding for Folkus, the folk arts network, to run music workshops across the north-west. Despite failing health (the reason he had to end his 41-year stint, running the Fylde Folk Festival, in 2014), Alan had been planning a Fylde Folk revival concert at Fleetwood's Marine Hall on June 22, to coincide with his 85th birthday - and this will still go ahead. Son Jamie said: "It was dad's wish that this event would still go ahead. We hope it will be a celebration of his life and his music Alan is survived by his wife, Christine (nee Harrison), whom he married in 1966, their sons, Jamie and Alistair, and his brother, Tony.

As I advised last week, and have confirmed above, the Fylde Folk Festival Day takes place in Fleetwood on Saturday (June 22) from 11am-11pm in the Marine Hall on the Esplanade. The array of stars who will turn out to give Alan a well-deserved farewell includes Show of Hands, The Wilsons, Stanley Accrington, Gary & Vera Aspey, Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman, Marie Little, Scold's Bridle and, as always, the Alan Bell Band. The event will be compèred by one of Alan's closest friends, Dave Jones, of Folk North West and vice chair of Folkus, the folk arts network founded by Alan and one of his enduring legacies. Telephone the box office on 01253 887693 for tickets and further information.

In a busy weekend, other gigs include Vicki Swan & Jonny Dyer at Frodsham Folk Club this Friday (Friday 21) at 8pm and, on the same day, those busy, busy, bees, Merry Hell (Acoustic) continue their never-ending tour of the UK at Knutsford Music Festival, again promoting their new album, Anthems to the Wind. I must admit that Knutsford Music Festival is one that I have, sadly, overlooked in the past. I suppose the omission of the word folk in its title probably drew my eyes elsewhere. However, to address previous years omissions, I can tell you that there is indeed a strong folk contingent. Mark Radcliffe, recovering from his cancer treatment at the end of last year is back in the scene and presents Folk at the Theatre from Knutsford Little Theatre each day. On Friday it will be the acoustic band Fine Lines and Merry Hell and, on Saturday (June 22) it will be The Old Firm (Dave Russell, Nick Mitchell and Chris Lee, from Chester band, Full House, together with Emma Sweeney & Friends. Elsewhere over the weekend there will be performers from all over the musical spectrum. There is even a Music Train from Chester to Altrincham to ride on! The Official Programme can be loaded down from the festival website.

As a footnote, I see that our friends Merry Hell will have a busy weekend as they are also at The Beardy Folk Festival, Cleobury Mortimer, Shropshire on Sunday (June 23). More information on this one from the website.

On Saturday (June 22) there is chance to witness a musical tradition that goes back all the way to 1204 and takes place at St John, the Baptist, Church, Chester. The Minstrels Court was an event that took place every year between 1204 and 1756 before mysteriously disappearing from the ecclesiastical calendar. Enthusiastic folklorists, traditionalists and musicians researched the ancient ceremony and it was revived in 2008. It starts at 10am and is well worth a trip over the border to see

As I advised last week, there is an additional event that nearly slipped under my radar on Saturday (June 22). It is the folk event at Mollington & Backford Village Hall, Station Road, Backford 6NT (off the A41). The much-missed John Wright is remembered in the band that carried on after his untimely death, Other Roads, and they will be in concert at the Hall next Saturday (June 22) at 7.30pm. Telephone Meggi Silva on 01244 371771 for tickets (£12). There will also be a limited bar and refreshments available.

The 25th Ruthin Festival starts on Saturday (June 22) and runs through to the following Saturday (June 29) with culturally diverse events all week so, worth checking that one out if you are in the area. On Thursday (June 27) Ruthin All Styles Music Club, The Feathers, Ruthin enters the festival spirit with a guest night from Virginia Kettle and, whisper it quietly, she is also a member of a certain band called Merry Hell. Now where have I heard that name before???

In the meantime, whatever you do, and wherever you go, enjoy your music.

By D.C.M.