Archive News - 2005

Seasons Greetings to you all ! May I taken a moment to thank all the vistors, both ex members and friends, for the wonderful input I have received this year. I'm still getting names and contacts who I have not heard of before - it really is proof that the Website is getting to a size where the word is out - the Benson Girls are back !!! - just read down this years "News" section - it's great to hear from so many, and to receive so much help with Photos, Stories, Clippings etc. Please don't stop!! Many old friendships have been renewed and in some cases family contacts, lost some time ago have been re-made. With your continued assistance I shall press on, and hope you will feel free to phone, write or email me with any comments, or even just a chat!

This Update - 12 December 2005

Many thanks to Mary Dumain (played Alto - 1957 to 1960) for two separate sets of photos plus some "Tales" - see Albums 36 and 43 and "Tell the Tale" section. Your help is much appreciated, Mary!

This Update - 5 December 2005

It is with sadness I have to report the passing of Ken Mackintosh, Alto Sax Player and leader of one of the most popular Bands of the '50s - to read his Obituary please go to "Press Cuttings" and "Ken Mackintosh Obituary".

A big thank you to Inge Wannell (Baritone Sax 1957 to 1959), who has sent me a great selection of items - photos (see Album 42), a Biography, and a selection of press clippings which should be online in a few days. Hope you enjoy them!

This Update - 28 November 2005

Lovely selection of COLOUR photos from Joan Mollison (Trumpet - 1973 to 1981) introducing me to several new names from the later days of the Band; check out "Album 41" to view them - thanks to Joan for her efforts in collecting this selection for us.

This Update - 22 November 2005

Further new contacts have now written to me - Nina Dellamura ( now Meserve -Tenor Sax - 1957 to 1959 ) and Inge Wannell (now Malcomson - Baritone Sax - 1957 to 1959). Looking forward to hearing more from these Girls. A photograph of both is already online in "Album 36 - Photo wp674"

Also a great photograph of the Waldron Sisters - Winifred, Monica and Bernadette, who played during the mid 40's - I have put this in the "Biographies" section, and await some further details to add, when available.

This Update - 6 November 2005

No sooner had I updated the previous section, the Postman delivered photos from two more ex members - a photo CD with 40 photos on it, plus a Press Cutting - "Tanza joins the band" - from Tanza McKernon (Trumpet) and a selection from Mary McSherry (Vocalist 1961 and 1964 to 1966) - a further 16 photos; so I have had a very busy weekend. Both sets are now on line - Albums 38 & 39. There are a number of "blanks" for names, dates, locations etc - any info and help really welcome!!!

As promised, more photos from Una Mellor ( Double Bass - 1961 to 1964) - check out Album 40; thanks for your help, Una.

This Update - 2 November 2005

HELP - no, I'm not in any personal trouble, but the website needs some assistance - and I am sure you (our visitors) are the ones who can help.

After another great year (almost) of wonderful photographs and new names from the Bands heydays, there are now 37 "Albums", but I note almost no new stories of those Dance Band days have been sent in; I can't believe you don't have a few "Tales" tucked away in your memory which would fill out the background for the website. May I, once again, impose on you for more of your great help? Can I ask if, during the forthcoming Winter period, you put on your Thinking Cap, pick up a pen (or hit the keyboard!) and send me a few tales - comical, sad, personalities or background - it will really enhance the website for all our visitors. As I have said before - without your generous help the website would not exist. Thanks to all who have already helped out in any way, and thanks to all those who I hope to hear from soon.

Another selection of photos from the late 50's/early 60's - this time from Kay Clarke (Trombone - 1957 to 1965). Kay is resident in Las Vagas, USA - thanks a lot, Kay. Check them out in Album 37.

This Update - 25 October 2005

Mary Dumain ( Alto/Tenor/Clarinet -1957 to 1960 ) has emailed me with some photographs of the late 50's and will be sending in further memorabilia - keep a look out for it ; I have put the ones received so far online in Album 36. Glad you are enjoying the website, Mary. I know it brings a smile to many of our readers!

Another name from the 70's has contacted me - Kathy Spencer, ( Trumpet with Ivy during the early 1970's) has found the website and is going to let me have some memorabilia - Welcome aboard, Kathy; great to hear from you!!

This Update - 5 October 2005

Geoff Connell, in Tasmania, has emailed me with a photograph of the band in about 1947 - which has the signatures of most of the Girls on the reverse. Geoff was on a troop ship travelling from Harwich to Holland and Ivys Band was on board. He asked for a picture, and this was given to him. This is probably taken at the Birkenhead Cinema - there is a very similar shot in the website showing the girls seated instead of standing (as in this one) .

Click here to see Geoff's photo, click here to see the Autographs and here to see the other (seated) version.

Nice momento, Geoff - many thanks for sharing it with us.

This Update - 21 September 2005

I have now received photos and other information from Una Mellor ( Double Bass - 1961 to 1964) and Anne Blair (Trombone 1957 to 1958); check them out in the "Biographies" section. Anne has also included an interesting Press Cutting and a "Tale" - to read these items please see the separate sections.

Also just received this email from Tony Carter, who knew several of the "girls" and is still playing Alto, presently (late September) on a 20 night tour in Germany, Denmark and Sweden with Chris Barber.

..."Great site - heard of it from my wife's magazine "Yours" - an article by Roy Hudd.

I first met Ivy and her band when I was playing in Germany in 1962 at Baumholder and Hahn air base. we were alternating at the EM and NCO's club with Ivy - I was playing for Val Merrall - I was his first Alto (at Nineteen) and Gillian Dennis was Ivy's lead alto - seeing the photos on your site - some of which I am sure are the EM club in Bauholder - brought back memories. I knew Gillian, Sapphire and some of the other girls while we were on the base together.
I've gone full circle now - started out listening to Chris Barber and buying a clarinet at fourteen - now I play for him and mostly in Germany where he is so popular. I've been back to Baumholder, which is derelict now by comparison to our days there and Hahn of course is now a commerial airport - Ryanair's "Frankfurt Hahn" - what a liberty!! - Ramstein is also a shadow of it's former self - but of course there are no border problems any more.

After coming back from Germany in 63 I started to do pit work in Birmingham and played frequently with one of Ivy's early players, Norah Smalley, she was playing violin for a lot of shows and had been with the Midland Light Orchestra also - regrettably she is now with the great celestial string section but a lovely lady. Also around that time I remember being in George Clays Music shop in Birmingham when Robey Buckley was in there trying out one of the "new" Getzen trumpets with Cecil Viles - Anyway musn't ramble on - keep up the great work on the site it must give a lot of former players a lot of happiness".

Thanks, Tony - glad you enjoyed the site.

This Update - 10 September 2005

I am delighted to hear there are quite a number of ex members enjoying a good old search through the site, and I also understand they may have some further items of memorabilia which they would like to put online; if you want let me arrange this please send me an email (Use Email link or the "Contact Us" link in the "Contents" section on the Homepage) and I will be pleased to advise you.

Also, if you find any errors or need corrections or amendments making to info on the site, please let me know - I rely on you!

Andrew Blair, brother of Anne Blair (Trombone 1957 to 1958) has emailled me, giving me Anne's address; I shall be contacting her soon and hope to have some further information from her about her time with the band - keep checking!

This Update - 20 August 2005

Another find for our website - Una Mellor who played Double Bass in the 60's is now living in Eastbourne; I am hoping she will come up with some more Memorabilia from those days - keep watching!

Just had an email from Jean Smith in Florida; she sent some details about the band being in a film called "The Man Inside", made in about 1958. She's wondering if anyone has a copy of this film - please let me know. I have added her info to the section in "Tell the Tale" called "Ivy in films".

Can anyone help with another search for a past friend; I've received an email from Charley Brighton, who is looking for Christine Cox (played Trumpet in the 1970's), an old school friend - they also played together in the Hanwell Brass Band. Any info please contact me and I will pass details on.

This Update - 11 August 2005

Kay Clarkes daughter, Jeannett, has been in contact - Kay, who now lives in Las Vagas, Nevada, would like to get in touch with her ex band colleagues from 1957 to 1965, when Kay played Double Bass with the band. Please send any details to me and I will forward them on.

This Update - 3 August 2005

Just received a query from Kim White who is asking if any of our visitors know the where abouts of ex members of the Nat Temple Band; if anyone out there can help please contact me and I will pass any information on.

I have received the following memory from Bill Rainey about the "Girls" and the summer seasons on the Isle of Man:

"Congratulations on a great website I cannot tell you how many memories of the band and my vacation in Douglas this brings back.
After singing in pubs and clubs in Scotland etc my greatest memory is singing in a talent contest at The Villa Marina in Douglas in 1958 at the Glasgow Fair, with this great band (Ivy Benson) backing all the contestants. It is still my claim to fame that I had this great privilage.
I sang "Be Bop Alula" and was well received and if by any chance their is someone out their who captured my moment of fame on camera I would give my right arm for a copy.
I wish you all the very best with your website and I am sure their must be many who remember and enjoyed this unique group of girls".

Thanks, Bill - it's great to get this sort of correspondence; it's the stirring of memories of those dance band days and the stories that are sent in that makes the running of this website worth while. There's always space for more!! Keep them coming!

This Update - 22 July 2005

I have recently received a selection of photos from Joan Marsden (Trumpet - 1963 to 1964); these have been put into "Album 35". Also a very interesting Biography. Any help on naming the girls shown in the photos would be appreciated. Thanks for your input, Joan.

Thanks to Jasmine "Jazz" Barclay for a great Biography and photograph - Jazz has been one of my main contacts with ex members of the band having played Trombone with them from 1965 to 1983; wonderful details of those days which will, no doubt, stir many memories with our visitors - please, keep them coming!!!

This Update - 16 July 2005

Thanks go to Jean Smith - now O'Neill ( Tenor Sax - 1955 to 1959) for her Biography together with a couple of photos ( see Album 33) - which also include photos of June Lesley (Vocalist); I believe she is in Stevenage UK; anyone know where I can make contact?

This Update - 10 July 2005

I am delighted to report another link up between ex members of the band - I have now located Mary McSherry - (Vocalist in 1961, &1964 to 1966) who is living in South London; after many years I have now been able to arrange contact between Mary and some of her old colleagues.

Whilst on the subject of locating people, I have received a request for any information for details of Wendy Nichols (Sax player in approx 1957 to 1959) - from her son. Any information to me please, and I will forward it on.

I have been in contact with Jean Smith (now O'Neill), Tenor Sax player in 1957 to 1959, now living in Florida, who will be sending some info for the website after Hurricane "Dennis" has passed by - hope all our friends/ex colleagues located in the area weather this storm! We're thinking of you.

This Update - 1 July 2005

I was recently in touch with a Brass Band specialist magazine - "4 Bars Rest" - to ask for permission to use an article on Gracie Cole, who was very involved with the Brass bands in the North of England before she joined Ivy. Permission was given and I was asked to put a few words together about the website, and how it started - you may be interested to read the story - click on this link -

I am also very pleased to have received a Biography and Press Cutting from Pam Brett - (Trumpet, Trombone and Keyboards). Pam, originally Felicity - married name Hubbard, featured as keyboards player with the Beat-Group "The Alleycats" around 1964 - see "Album 34".

This Update - 4 June 2005

I have been in contact with Margaret Chappell (Double Bass - 1946 to 1948) who has sent me a very comprehensive biography of her family history and the early days of working with Ivy - thank you, Margaret.

Also a facinating early photograph of the "Rhythm Girls" - the original band that Ivy established in 1939 - thanks to Sherridan Crompton whose Grandma, Vera Howcroft is shown in this photo. Please look in "Photogallery- Album 32" for this entry. Any chance that someone can add the missing names !!

More from the 60's - thanks to Sally Cursons - (Guitar - 1964 to 1966). I have put online a new album (Album 31), some Press Cuttings and a Biography of Sally. Thanks for the great selection of photos and general information together with several new ( to me ) names; also details to update the exisiting website.

This Update - 20 May 2005

More info about "missing" names to photographs - just received the name of the Drummer in Album 14; Tony Taylor tells me it's his wife, Karen Fulton. Thanks, Tony, for this information.

I am very pleased to note that a lot of our site visitors are using the "search" facility (see above); I am also aware that some of these searches have been unsuccessful; if you try a search and don't get a result, it means that I have not had any information to put online for that name; so PLEASE contact me with the persons name you are seeking so I can put online any detail, however small - others may see it and be able to add to it; it's the only way I can expand the site. All details very welcome to expand information on the band via this website.

I have just received the name of the vocalist in Album 14 (The band at Hayling Island in the 80's) - Shelley Lee; many thanks to her husband, Peter for the email from their home in Florida; I am particularly keen to get more information about the later years of the band - any information welcome - I have several contacts who I am expecting information from and will be putting details online as and when received.

I have recently received a selection of information about Eunice Cox (Alto & Baritone - 1944 to 1951) from her brother Colin. I have been able to add two press cuttings about Eunice and have also included a Biography; lots of interesting detail - check them out; I hope you enjoy them! and many thanks to Colin for the information.

This Update - 21 April 2005

A nice note via email from Steve Humphery -"What a wonderful and comprehensive site, if only other of our great bands had such good sites!! Many thanks" - Thanks Steve; glad you enjoyed it!

I have just recieved the email below from David Read, who has some interesting first hand knowledge of Ivy and her Girls........

"I have enjoyed reading about Ivy Benson and her girls and particulalarly the 4 barsrest article on Gracie Cole. Gracie had many connections with Askern in South Yorkshire where I began my banding carreer. I played next to one of her Uncles in that band. My father worked on the coal face with another of her Uncles- he also lived opposite us on our street and when I was very young ( about 4or 5 years old) Gracie and myself had our photographs taken together -she would be 14 or 15 at the time.I was not aware of it but knew of our connection.Gracie herself submitted this photograph to the British Bandsman a few years ago and it was published. It was years before I started to play myself but who knows she may have inspired me to do so. After the publication we talked about those times and she remembered me toddling over to see her Uncle!

I also knew Ella Godwin who as you know played lead Trumpet with the Ivy Benson Band in a later period and who is about my age.Ella came from Upton and played with the Upton Colliery Band (our next village) we used to compete in Solo Contests against each other.I remember going to listen to the Ivy Benson Band in the restaurant at the Cumberland Hotel Oxford Street with some of my Welsh Guards Band colleagues about 1954/5. We chatted about our old competitive days, It was the last time I saw her, she married Phil Parkers son and I believe went to live in Canada.Thanks for taking me back down memory lane! Much of this is in my recently published book 'Beyond the Box.(about brass bands)
Hope some of this has been of some interest to you.
Kind regards
David Read

Thanks very much for the email, David - It's good to know our efforts find an interested audience; responces from visitors and stirring their memories is what it's all about! Please keep them coming.

I'm very pleased to have recieved some new photos of Dinah Dee and her Band (and Groups); these come from Maureen Mortimer ( Alto/Clarinet - 1953 to 1955 with Ivy), from the 1960's period when Maureen was playing with Dinah and other groups. These photos have been added to Album 21. There are also a couple of new Press Cuttings - one about Kay Starr's visit to Europe and another excellent article about Gracie Coles early days.

In addition, there are more of Gracie Cole's photos soon to be put online, also from Maureen - keep an eye open for them!

It is with great sorrow and regret that I have to report the passing of Pat "Haggis" Gentles who played Bagpipes and was a vocalist with Ivy Benson from 1958 to 1962. Pat passed away in Detroit USA on Thursday 14 April 2005 after a recent serious illness. She was the first contact I made with ex members of the band in my quest to establish this website and her interest in the site, together with her knowledge of the Band during those years was terrific; without her help this website would not be in existence. Many of you will have read and enjoyed her stories (check them out by typing "Haggis" or "Gentles" into the Search facility on the Homepage) - they give a flavour of Pat and her lifestyle - fun, reliable and a good friend.

My condolences go out to her husband, Tom and her family for their loss.

I have put a new album online (Album No:29 - Ivy's Legacy) as a tribute to those of Ivy's Girls who went on to set up their own Bands/Groups. Several photographs have been found on the "Big Band Database" some of which need additional details - can anyone help? Thanks to Murray Pfeffer for his help in gaining permission for their use. Also a new Press Cutting from the website "", about Gracie Cole playing Cornet at Grimethorpe Colliery.

This Update - 24 March 2005

I have received a nice selection of photographs from Gillian Fleming (Alto - 1972 to 1975); these are online in Album No:28 - thanks, Gill. I am particularly keen to gather more information, both photos and stories etc about the latter part of the Bands history - so I would be delighted to hear from anyone who can help with the period around the late 1960's to 1983. I have also placed 12 new "Tales" from Pat "Haggis" Gentles (Bagpipes and Vocals - 1958 to 1963), centred on her early days with the band - these Tales cover 1958 to 1960; another new Press Cutting - "Club Call" with a great heading photo, is included - and all are very entertaining and I hope you enjoy them.

This Update - 20 February 2005

Heres an unusual request just received from David Grainger - can anyone throw light on his query? Contact me through email or "Contact us" facility.........
"Hi, I am trying to trace the history of my Father's Double Bass. He died five years ago and I have had the bass since then. According to my mother he bought it from the Ivy Benson Band in the early 50's, from an add in the Exchange & Mart. The Bass is still in it's un-converted THREE STRING form and I have been told it is French from around 1890. It has had a hard life, Dad (Walter Grainger) played in his own dance band and in the early days transported the bass around in the sidecar of his ex US Army Harley Davidson!! I have looked at the many photos on the site but cannot get a really good image of the basses being played. It would be great to hear from you with any information you may have".

I have recently received a great selection of photographs from Norma Cameron - now Lamplough ( Alto Sax) - 1943 to 1955, which have been added to the site; Album 26 is of Show Programmes and Album 27 covers the period from just before the end of the War to 1955, with Overseas and Home tours - thank you Norma - I'm sure these will stir a few memories; please let me know if you have any stories etc of the band days for me to add to the site.

Also I would like to welcome another ex member - Joan Marsden - now Walsh, who played Trumpet in 1962 and 1963. Thanks for contacting me, Joan. Hope you enjoy the website.

This Update - 1 February 2005

More memorabilia has arrived - this time from Maureen Mortimer (Alto Sax - 1953 to 1955); a great selection of pages from an early 1950's edition of "Showgirl Glamour Revue" - check it out in Photo Album No:25 .

A couple of the sections on the website are begining to suffer from their own success! The size of both the "News" section and the "Where are you now" feature are getting so long, visitors may be experiencing excessive loading times; to try and improve this situation, I am creating an "Archive News" section, which involves splitting the old news and information into this new file. This will still be available to those who want to read old News, but it will be in a separate file accessed from a link at the very end of the more current "News" section. Also the "Where are you now" section will be made into two stage access - the first page to view is an Alphabetical Index - select the letter of the Surname you are seeking, and then Click on it to bring up the names available.

I am delighted to have recieved some great information from Norma Cameron - now Lamplough (Alto Sax 1943 to 1955); a great "Biography" and three new "Tales" - very entertaining; I understand there's some photos due as well! Looking forward to them. Another new ex member, Joan Mollison (Trumpet 1973 to 1981) has found the site and contacted me - welcome Joan; hope you like the site.

I am very sorry to have to report the passing of Eunice Cox (Alto Sax - 1945 to 1951). She made many tours to Germany and the Middle East, and after six years with the band, she left to marry Eric Davison, and they went into the Hotel business. When they retired they moved to Chapel St Leonards and after some years of happy retirement Eric passed away. In about 2001 Eunice moved into The Phoenix Care Centre where she passed away on the 1st.January 2005.

After a hectic start to the New Year I am pleased to say two more interesting photo albums have now been put online, very kindly provided by Dorothy England (Trombone 1951 to 1956); Album 23 is of a selection of Programs from the Tabaris Nightclub in Dusseldorf, Germany in the early 1950's, a very popular venue for the Band during this period. Album 24 is of a wide, varied selection of photos from the first half of the 1950's; the detail provided is great; I know both Dorothy and her sister Sylvia have both been sifting through their files to provide this information - many thanks to both.

In addition Biographies from both have been added; I hope these updates stir a few memories and create a few laughs!

This Update - 1 January 2005

A very Happy New Year to all our readers. I hope you had a good Christmas with family and friends, and trust the New Year will be a peaceful and happy one for us all.

If you are in receipt of the "BOGS" (Bensons Old Girls) Bulletin, distributed each Christmas by Sylvia England, you will see that this website is featured, and that my name appears in it - this must be an honour accorded to very few of the male gender! Thanks Sylvia, for the inclusion. I look forward to hearing from even more of you during the next few months. Please feel free to contact me either by the details included in the Bulletin, or by using the "Contact Us" and "Email" features in the "Contents" section of this website - I'm always looking out for new contacts. If you feel there are new or additional sections you would like to see, please let me know - I will try to accomodate as requested.

In the next few weeks I am hoping to meet Sylvia's sister, Dorothy (Trombone 1951 to 1956), who I understand has another great selection of memorabilia to add to the site. Keep an eye open for the new Albums and Stories.

As a result of the BOGS bulletin, I am delighted to have had contact from Patsy O'Hara (now Wayne - Trombone and Vocals 1948 to 1949) who is located in Queensland, Australia; welcome, Patsy; hope you enjoy the site.

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