Eunice looks back on a wonderful musical career.

(from Eunice Cox - Target
23 April 2003)

Eunice Davison has many golden memories of her years in the glittering world of showbiz.Those were the years towards the end of World War Two when Eunice' still only 18, played the saxophone and clarinet
with the celebrated Ivy Benson's All Girl Band.

Edna Wayne, Eunice Cox, Norma Cameron, Irene Boynton and Lena Kidd.

Eunice is now living at The Phoenix Residential Care Home, Chapel St Leonards and recently she was given a very special surprise and an op-portunity to reflect on her musical career with one of the most popular bands of the Forties and Fifties. In those far off days, Eunice traveled to many parts of the world with Ivy and the girls, enter-taining troops who were still overseas. Now, with the help of her friends, Sue and Peter Stapleton, Eunice has been able to hear the band again and her own performance on a new CD. Recently the Target featured Peter Stapleton's hobby - Big Bands.

Peter's wife, Sue, is activities officer at the Phoenix Centre and the couple have made it possible for Eunice to hear again, the music that she played, many years ago.A new company is currently reproducing on CDs, the music of the big bands and Peter had located a CD on which the company has featured the music of Ivy Benson's and her Girls' Band. Sue had taken the Centre's CD player into Eunice's room and Peter set things in motion while Eunice sat quietly,wondering what surprise was in store.

When she heard the first bars of "I cover the Waterfront" the amazement on her face was a joy to see. At the sound of the alto saxophone she said, excitedly "Thats me!" Then followed "I'm in the mood for love" and "If I had my way" with Eunice finding it difficult to keep a dry eye.

Said Peter "The reproduction of the music of these bands of years ago is as good now as it was when we first heard it!'' It was s a huge surprise to Eunice and a greeat pleasure to watch her as she sat back in her chair and listened to the loveley sounds of Ivy Benson and the band.

Born in 1925, Eunice was only 14 at the out-break of the Second World War and was still at school. She had hoped to go to college but eventually, she went to a girls' school until she was 16 and then studied at evening classes. Said Eunice: "I loved music and always wanted to play an instrument. After leaving school, Eunice would be found at the Victoria Ballroom, Nottingham, every Tuesday night, where she enjoyed old time and modern dancing.

In the 1930s, Eunice's mother, Nellie Cox, had her own band. They were known as Mrs Cox's Boys and included Colin, Eunice's brother who is well known in Nottingham and further afield. It was from Nellie that Eunice and Colin inherited their musical talent and they never wavered from their desire to be come professional musicians, despite the fact that their father would have preferred them to follow more conventional careers.

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In those early days. Eunice had started playing thee violin at the Church Hall. "Then I took up the clarinet and later the saxophone" she said. I was trained on the saxophone by Jimmy Honeyman, well known band leader in Nottingham ballrooms".

Soon Eunice was playing at different venues in Nottingham and all the money she earned was put into a bank account for her "musical future". When she was 18, she used the money to buy a new saxophone. "I'd a waited a long I time for that!" she said.

Eunice's music teacher was Bert Tyler and she had played alongside him, as lead violinist, when he was conductor of the 'pit' orchestra at Nottingham's Empire Theatre.

In 1945, when Eunice was playing with Gloria Gaye and her Girls, she went to Derby to see Ivy Benson who was appearing in the town. Eunice plucked up courage to seek an interview with Ivy. "I never actually attended an audition with her" said Eunice. "I just went along and asked if I could do a number with the band. l was placing that night." said Eunice. "I could play anything by ear and I was invited into the band room."

Eunice was thrilled to see the empty instrument cases, beautiful dresses and silver shoes scattered around and longed to be a part of it."That was really, the start of my career with Ivy," she said, "and although I was sad to leave my parents, I was des-perate to join the band!" Eunice said, "The band had toured the world during the early years of the war. It was dangerous but the troops loved Ivy and the girls.

Eunice also played the baritone saxophone but, as the photograph shows, it was almost bigger than Eunice, who said "I stuck to the Alto sax instead. Remembering those bygone days, Eunice reflected "It was wonderful when the curtain went up and we saw all the troops sitting there waiting for us.They cheered when we appeared and despite the war we enjoyed a lot of parties after the show was over". Eunice revealed: "We were not too popular with leaders of the other big hands and there was jealousy, but the musicians in those bands were always very courteous to us."

The Viennese Ballroom, Skegness 1948.

Ivy was extremely talented; She played clarinet, baritone saxophone, piano and other instruments "much better than !" said Eunice with a smile. Eumce met her late husband, Eric at Butlins, Filey, while she was still with Ivy's band. Eric was manager of the resident band at the camp.

They were married and lived happily together for many years, eventually moving to Chapel St Leonards where Eric was for ten years, secretary of the old Chapel St Leonards Football club. Eunice treasures the gold medal that was presented to Eric for his services.

When Eric died, some years ago, Eunice remained in Chapel St Leonards where they had spent so many happy years together. Now she is living quietly in the residential home, happy in the knowledge that Sue and Peter can bring to her the lovely music of Ivy Benson that was part of her life many years ago. "I have so many wonderful memories" said Eunice. "They are always with me, and now I can hear again the music that was my life and which I love so much".