Ivy Benson - honoured by the stars
Clacton Gazette, Friday, May 21, 1993


Stars tribute to great musician

IVY Benson went out as she had started -to the strains of the signature tune she had used to introduce her-self to generations of delighted audiences, "Lady Be Good".

For the congregation of more than 300 who came to pay their last respects at her funeral last Thursday it was a fitting finale to the 79-year-old who pioneered the country's first successful all girls' band and worked so tirelessly for charity in active retirement in Clacton.

Her pet poodle Simon, which she took with her everywhere, sat passively in the front row of the chapel at Weeley Crematorium together with over 30 past members her band.
Outside a large array of wreaths included one from the widow of former bandleader, Joss Loss, who encouraged her so much in her early days.There was also a floral tribute from comedy star, John Inman, King Water Rat.

Comedy actress, Ruth Madoc, the former star of the hit TV series Hi-de-Hi! who is Queen Ratling of the Grand Order of Lady Ratlings, the female stars' charity organisation, to which Ivy belonged for over 50 years, remembered her as"a very warm person, very dedicated and loving, and very much the professional."
First and foremost she was a pioneer of her time, and we need to know that," she stressed.

Without Ivy, who first forced audiences to take women seriously as popular musicians in a -traditionally male dominated preserve, with her All Girls' Band which she led for 40 years, there would be no place for today's female rock groups said Ruth Madoc.

Return to Index


She told the packed congregation which spilled outside "Cheer and hope and optimism - these are the great things -I remember about our sister Ratling."

-Ruth who read a passage from Revelations, Chapter Three -The New Jerusalem - concluded: "You are always remembered by your sister Ratlings, and by everyone you met."

Sheila Tracy, the presenter of BBC Radio's Big Band Special and a trombonist with Ivy's band in the 50's, recalled how during the war with many male musicians being

When in 1943 Ivy's band was appointed as the BBC's resident dance orchestra all hell broke loose in the musical press.

The British loved her and the American GI's adored her and at the end of the war she went to Berlin for the victory celebrations at the request of Field Marshall Montgomery and continued to surmount any male prejudice.

Speaking as a former band member, Sheila Tracy said "You buoyed us, you praised us and you shouted at us when you had to - but we loved you for what you were, and for what you achieved".
The Clacton musician, Jack Jacobs, who runs a music business and sold her her last electric organ said "She was brilliant - a terrific musician. She just loved performing."
And former Gunner with the Royal Artillery, John Fairbrother from Colchester, who met her in Egypt while she enter-taining the troops in 1948 recalled the uplifting pleasure she had given to the troops and said: 'She was a smashing woman.

Helga Douglas, who worked at Clacton's Royal Hotel when Miss Benson was a resident enter-tainer for five years on coming to Clacton in 1982, described her as a pro until the end.

Ivy died recently after suffering a heart attack at her home in Thorough-good Road. She was due to play that evening.