I was born in Bradford, West Yorkshire and from the age of 8 until I was 16 I played the Cello. I left school and joined Ivy Bensons band after my mother had seen a write-up on the band in "Titbits" magazine, and had written to Ivy, asking for an audition for me. I was successful and joined the band who were on Summer Season at the 400 Ballroom, Torquay. At the end of that summer I took over on Bass (my fathers) and we went to Germany to entertain British troops.

There were three of us girls who were just 16 years of age - Elaine Harris, who played Trumpet and another girl who played Trombone and myself. Ivy had to take us to Bow Street Court and put money down before she could take us out of the country - something to do with "white slave traffic".

I stayed with the band for 8 years; winters in Germany - usually a month for the Germans and then about 3 months at Ramstein Airbase for the Americans; then Summer Seasons in the Villa Marina, Douglas on the Isle of Man. Ronnie Aldrich and the Squadronaires were up the road at the Palace and Basil & Ivor Kirchen were down the other end of town. The first season we had Joe Loss with us at the Marina, and following years we had Ken Macintosh, the Dankworth Seven and the Ray Ellington band.

I left in 1962 and worked in London for 4 years at the Astoria Ballroom, Charing Cross Road, with a vocal/instrumental quartet until Top Rank sold it. I joined a Mecca band in Coventry and did 2 years at the Locarno; we then were moved to Derby, where I met my husband.

We married in 1968 and emigrated to South Africa where I worked for 2 years with Eddie Calvert in a nightclub in Johannesburg. My husbands job brought us back to England and we first lived in Leicester, where I had two children, and then moved to Peterborough where I ran the Musicians Union branch. I also did summer seasons at Great Yarmouth and was a founder member of the Peterborough Jazz Orchestra.

In 1983 my husbands job moved us to to Falmouth where I do mainly Jazz gigs with occasional work - Ballet, Opera etc - at the Hall for Cornwall.

Since our divorce, in addition to the jazz, I teach Double Bass around the schools in Cornwall for the County Council.

I have two grand daughters; one 7 months old living in Italy, and one of 1 week old living in Cornwall (August 2004).

Claudia Colmer
played Double Bass
1954 to 1962