Key player Mike returns

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In the 1980s piano player Mike Raine was a familiar figure in Scarborough town centre – and then it was Viva Espana for the honky tonk king.

Shoppers chucked silver in his cap and charity boxes and he collected thousands of pounds for causes including Zebrugge ferry disaster, Lockerbie air crash, Children In Need and the Hillsborough tragedy.

Now Mike is back in town – with a spot at the Leeds Hotel in the Old Town and he’s knocking out standards and pop classics on an upright to the Friday night crowd.

He went to Spain 20 years ago and returned three months ago and has settled, for now, in Bridlington with fiancee Janet, who is a care assistant.

“I enjoyed Spain immensely,” said Mike, “and we still go back to see old amigos,” he said.

He went to Benidorm to get out of the old routine and worked in hotels and bars there.

Born in Scarborough, Mike went to what was then Scalby Secondary Modern School. He worked as an auto electrician and for the Duchy of Lancaster Estates before making music his full time job.

He cannot read music but his father and grandfather were piainists and Mike said: “There are lots of songs I know and lots I don’t.”

Mike worked at the Royal, the Royal Opera House and the Grand and you name a pub in Scarborough and he may have well played there.

Scarborough born and bred, Mike is glad to be back near his home town and as we sit in the Leeds Hotel he reminisces fondly about the North Bay Railway, his busking days in the town centre, the Floral Hall and the Royal Opera House – “the nostalgia of the building has gone,” he said.

He has two daughters, Wendy who lives in Rotherham, and Sarah who lives in Cloughton, where Mike once lived. He has five grandchildren.

After our chat, Mike offers to play my favourite tune and without hesitation I chose Sinatra. He plays New York New York while I lean on the old Joanna – no electronic equipment here – and sing along. It’s magic.

Mike is at the Leeds Hotel tomorrow and on Saturday.