Following the stint at the BBC, in early 1944 we played the London Palladium for six months, during which time I was switched to lead alto.
A provincial tour of theatres followed including the Belle Vue Ballroom in Manchester. Ivy was taken ill during this period, needed surgery, and left me in charge of a 9 piece skeleton band at the Belle Vue. After being away for three months, Ivy undertook her first ENSA tour, which began on D-Day. Following this, the band went overseas for ENSA, and we were the first English girls to enter Berlin.
The first tour of Germany was followed by another ENSA tour. In August of 1946 the band went to Ostend to play for some special occasion, at which Maurice Chevalier presented the grand prize. A month or so later the band left for a stint at the Tivoli Gardens in Stockholm, Sweden.
In 1947 I left Ivy to join Blanche Coleman who was playing the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden and whose band had a television appearance at the Crystal Palace. I then rejoined Ivy for a summer season at Butlin's, Skegness. In 1949 this was followed by a tour of the Middle East - Egypt, Malta, and Tripoli.
During the next few years, I still played for Ivy, taking time off every now and again to go on tour with Tessie O'Shea, and to lead a six piece in a Gibraltar nightclub for a year.
In 1956 I was married at Caxton Hall to a Brit I met while in Gibraltar. Six months later we emigrated to Canada, where we stayed for 10 years. Our family grew by two daughters and we subsequently moved to Florida because of my husband's work (helicopter engineer). I divorced in 1970 and took a position with the School Board here in Fort Lauderdale, retiring from that position seven years ago.
I was born in Chatham, Kent, and was taught by my father, an accomplished musician. I began playing at the age of eight, beginning on piano, violin and mandolin, finally settling on a C melody sax after my dad insisted that I had to make a choice. At age 11, I was playing weekly Saturday concerts at local hotels with Dad who played the banjo at that time. As I got older, I started playing gigs on the alto sax with local bands. Fellow bandsmen were Ronnie Verral (drums) and Tommy Whittle (tenor sax) who later played with Ted Heath.
In September of 1943, I received a telegram from Ivy Benson to find out if I was interested in joining her in Bristol, where the band was the BBC contract band. When I got there, I discovered she