ONE of the Osmond brothers caused a stir at a Meltham factory when he called in to promote a big fundraiser.
Staff at UK Disposables in Huddersfield Road couldn’t believe it when Merrill Osmond dropped in.
Merrill, 60, the original lead singer with The Osmonds, is patron of a charity for deaf people founded by his son Justin, who was born profoundly deaf.
Merrill visited Meltham to promote the Gala Night in Leeds in September to raise money for Justin’s charity Hearing Fund UK.
The charity, set up last year, raised £50,000 with its first Gala Night.
This year’s gala is set to be bigger and better and all the money raised will stay in Yorkshire.
One of the charities to benefit will be Huddersfield-based Music for the Deaf, set up by Paul Whittaker.
Family-run Disposables UK, which makes disposable paper and hygiene products, was chosen to host Merrill’s visit by one of the gala sponsors, environmental scheme Ecolabel.
Merrill toured the factory, which employs 100 people, and met chairman Diane Storer and managing director David Birkill.
The Osmonds, from Utah in the United States, began performing in 1957 and have sold an incredible 102 million records worldwide.
Merrill was the lead singer in the group with three of his brothers Alan, Wayne and Jay.
They were later joined by younger brothers Donny and Jimmy. The family were huge in their 1970s heyday.
Merrill’s two elder brothers Tom and Virl were born profoundly deaf and their parents Olive and George originally set up The Osmonds as a barber’s shop group to raise money to buy hearing aids for them.
Merrill said: “Not a lot of people know the background to how The Osmonds were formed but that’s a true story.
“That was the only reason The Osmonds got started and our mother was so committed we eventually launched the Osmond Foundation which is a $4 billion industry in the States.”
The family were brought up devout Mormons and Merrill said: “I believe there are no accidents in anything. I had a mother with such a vision of what was supposed to happen.
“Before she passed away she said: ‘Merrill, you are the middle son and I want you to take this vision forward.’
“She said I was the only brother who had a son who was deaf and that we should go out and make a difference in the world.”
Merrill pledged that all the money raised from the Gala Night would stay in Yorkshire and said hearing aids were now so advanced – and so expensive.
“We want to help kids who can’t afford hearing aids,” he said.
“My son’s hearing aid is so hi-tech he can hear what you are thinking!”
The charity was launched in the UK because The Osmonds consider Britain their second home.
“We are so thankful that the world has embraced The Osmonds and Osmond Mania kicked in in the 70s,” said Merrill.
“I had never heard it called a ‘mania’ before and it was Paul McCartney who called it that.”
Merrill is still performing and has just completed a three-month UK tour with his brothers Jimmy and Jay and will be back for more in September.
“I love it and we don’t have anything to prove,” he said.
“We have been doing it for 56 years and we will keep going until we get it right!”
Workers at the factory had their pictures taken with the pop icon.
One of them, Angela Coldwell, said: “I used to be a big fan back then. I’m all flustered now.”
The Gala Night on September 1 will be attended by a host of stars. Those confirmed include Shane Ritchie, Gareth Gates, Chico and Fiona Phillips.
To sponsor the Gala Night ring Tracey Beaumont on 07967 186539. Tickets priced at £20-£35 are available from 0844 848 2700. For further details see www.hearingfund.org.uk
THERE are eight Osmond brothers – Tom, Virl, Merrill, Alan, Wayne, Jay, Donny and Jimmy – plus sister Marie.
The original Osmonds consisted of Merrill, Alan, Wayne and Jay.
Eight of the nine Osmond siblings were born in their hometown of Ogden, Utah, except the youngest Jimmy who was born in Canoga Park, California.
The Osmonds were formed in 1957 and the last time they all appeared together on stage was for the 50th anniversary concert in 2008.
The Osmond family are devout followers of the Mormon faith.
Jimmy Osmond became the youngest artist to have a UK No1 single when Long Haired Lover from Liverpool topped the charts in 1972.
Donny, the heartthrob of the family, teamed up with Marie for the massively popular Donny & Marie variety show.