LAST week's article on bands in Weymouth and Portland stirred many memories for Poppy Butcher.

The vivacious 88-year-old, who was awarded Freedom of the Borough of Weymouth and Portland, last year, has many happy memories of being vocalist in the Bob Newsam Band, the Merry Makers band and the Johnny Day band.

Poppy, of Weymouth, may be better known for tirelessly organising the vehicle parade during Weymouth's Veteran Day celebrations for more than 20 years, but she was in much demand as a singer.

She first realised she had a talent for singing after she performed on the BBC live radio broadcast Star for a night.

She also performed with Bob Newsam on Weymouth's pier bandstand on VE Day.

Back then, Portlander Poppy was known as Poppy Collins.

She said: "As a child I used to perform concerts and I did a pantomime when I was quite young.

"After I performed with Bob I ended up singing with the Bob Newsam band until 1949 but I had to stop because I was going to have a baby."

It was through the music scene that Poppy met her late husband John Butcher.

She said: "John used to play the drums in the RAF band. I went into the Merry Makers band in the 1950s and was there until the 1960s.

"We used to perform a lot of popular stuff from the day. We would go around Weymouth, Dorchester and Poole performing."

Poppy would put a lot of effort into her appearance for the band's gigs. She would often get her hair done at the hairdresser's and would make her own dresses.

She next went on to join the Johnny Day band and remembers performing at Weymouth Pavilion the day JFK was shot.

Poppy also has many memories of visiting holiday camps around Weymouth to perform.

"I really do have some lovely memories of being in bands and I really enjoyed it.

"My children turned out to be musical, I had a daughter and a son who were both in bands.

"I'm lucky that I have always been outgoing and was keen to perform, but there were times when I would get nervous."

And it was a very lively local music scene, Poppy recalls.

"There wasn't any rivalry, everyone was very friendly with each other. There were lots and lots of bands around at the time and when somebody was ill we would get somebody from another band to cover."

The Sidney Hall in Weymouth was a regular venue for Poppy to perform in.

She remembers a non-stop ball there in 1946 when she would perform as a member of the Bob Newsam band. Couples would take to the floor and perform waltzes and foxtrots.

At one gig in Dorchester the band was introduced as 'Johnny Day and Poppy Day'!

Many Looking Back readers will also remember Pullingers in Weymouth where the 'Johnny Day Band and Poppy' would regularly perform.

Unfortunately Poppy has lost touch with many of her fellow band members and some have passed away.

But she still sees Peter Price, a former Weymouth showman.

When Peter left left the RAF after the Second World War he took up trumpet playing, eventually becoming a bandleader. He later reinvented himself as a magician.

*If you have musical memories of performing or seeing bands in the local areas, we would love to hear from you and would love to see some photos too. Get in touch using the contact details below.


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