top of page

1943: Keeping up spirits in wartime

An account in the Mid Sussex Times 28 April 1943 tells of a concert held in Cuckfield to raise spirits. They were royally entertained by a concert part including top professional entertainers, and it must have been an excellent evening:

A tip-top entertainment was given at the Queen's Hall, Cuckfield, last Wednesday, under the auspices of the Cuckfield Residents Hospitality Association. The first half of the programme was sustained by a concert party - the members of whom have performed on the radio - presented by Mrs. Norris, of Crawley, under the sponsorship of the YMCA.

Left: Miss Vera Sherburn 1936

That celebrated piano-accordionist. Dante, rendered favourite melodies and those of his own composition with no little skill. Hebe Haworth enraptured the large audience with her beautiful pianoforte playing and kept them amused with a number of delightfully witty anecdotes. Reginald Gibbs, the well-known opera singer, was enthusiastically applauded for his magnificent vocalisations.

Stella Scott proved herself a capable banjoist. Colleen Clifford, a droll and charming compere, also made a hit with her vocal items, which were both grave and gay. The latter half of the bill was admirably sustained by Private Jack Smith (vocalist). Private Fred Joyce (comedian), Vera Sherburn (monologues and impersonations) and Kathleen Lindars (violin solos). The artistes were warmly thanked by the Rev, HFC Kempe. (Vicar), and on behalf of the Hospitality Association Mrs M Platt-Higgins handed Mrs. Norris, amid acclamation, a lovely bouquet.


Irene Margaret Clifford (née Blackford) (17 November 1898 – 7 April 1996), known professionally as Colleen Clifford, was a British-born performer, who worked in her native England as well as New Zealand and, later in her career, Australia. As an actress she worked in all facets of the industry: radio, stage, television and film. She was also a theatre founder, director and producer, coloratura soprano, dancer, comedian and classical pianist who was a specialist in voice production, drama and music.

Biography: Colleen Clifford: A Biography by Darren Gray. Pub: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform 2014.

Stella Scott Emile Grimshaw a 'player of exquisite taste on banjo, mandolin and guitar' taught many stage performers how to play the banjo. Four of his best pupils formed a quartet led by Marjorie Brightwell (stage name Stella Scott), they were the only all-girl banjo quartet in Britain and ' … and they were very good' says an expert on the subject.

Adrian Dante - impresario, organiser, teacher, writer, publisher, composer, arranger, record producer and accordionist - was born in London of Italian parents in 1914, and spent much of his childhood in Italy where he became fascinated by the accordion and immersed in music. His birth name was actually Dante Adriano, but as a teenager in London he preferred the anglicised name Adrian Dante. As a young man, Adrian Dante rapidly emerged as an outstanding accordionist, with an extensive repertoire that ranged from the musette music of Italy and France through to transcriptions of classical music.

Full caption

Crowning of Jean Hoy as Carnival Queen by Miss Vera Sherburn, taken from Poole and Parkstone Standard, 8th July 1936


bottom of page