Following our recent publication of information about The Jollities concert party Margaret Breedon (née Hawes) has kindly provided us with this record of her family’s contribution to entertainment in the district.
Although Sammy was probably the best known entertainer of his family, he is not the only one.
Florence Hawes and friend
His son Ken has also made a name for himself locally, as a Conjuror. We have in our archives a picture of these two ladies and the only clue to who they are is in the file name: “Florence Hawes (on the left) and friend dressed for “Hospital Day” – probably the Fancy Dress
Competition. Florence was Sam’s mother – she died on 1 January 1946 aged 54. The photo was probably taken in the mid 1930s. Can anybody tell us when and where it was taken, please.
Sam was the third child and eldest son of William George (Dickie) and Florence (nee WOODWARD). He had two elder sisters, Florence (Florrie), and Nellie – his younger siblings were Phyllis (Phyl), Frederick George (known as George), Donald (known as Dick), Queen, and Gerald (known as Gerry). They were all born and raised at 5 Denbigh Road, Bletchley (but in the parish of Simpson).
In 1924 he performed in the school production of the operetta ‘The Raja of Rajput’. Maybe ‘a seed was sown’ during this production – this could have been where his love of entertaining began.
In 1947, Sam married Elizabeth Catherine (nee HAWKINS) – known as Cassie – at Holyhead, Anglesey, her home town. They didn’t have a honeymoon. After their wedding, they travelled back to Bletchley and began married life in two rooms at 8 High Street, Fenny Stratford (next door to Martell’s Coal Merchants). An old lady named Mrs Chamberlain lived in the other part of the house.
By 1951 they had moved to Oakwood Drive, Bletchley where they raised their family – Margaret, Ken and Jean.
As they didn’t have a television until 1960, winter Sunday evenings were spent playing simple word games. After the word games it was time to listen to “Sing Something Simple”, so out would come Sam’s mouth organ or melodeon and the whole family would sing all the old songs. As a special treat the children were allowed to stay up and listen to Radio Luxembourg.
Sometime during 1963, the Youth Club at Queensway Methodist Church gave a concert which Sam attended, as Maggie, Ken and Jean were taking part. He realised that there was quite a lot of talent in the family, so he proposed that the family should start its own concert party. From then on until the early 1970s Sam very much enjoyed entertaining others at old peoples’ homes, old peoples’ clubs, women’s institutes etc., alongside his family. He acted as Master of Ceremonies cracking jokes which he read from scraps of paper!! He also did a Performing Fleas act where he would pretend to have fleas performing on a high wire. He would shout “Hally-up” and the ‘imaginary’ flea would do a somersault – right at the end of the act one of the “so called” fleas refused to perform, so he would go out into the audience and say, “Excuse me madam, I must have the wrong flea – can I have mine back please?” He got away with it every time – nobody got offended!! He also sang solos and played his saw. Ken did his magic act and sometimes sang “Hole in the Ground”, or “The Old Sow”. Maggie sang solos and Jean joined her in singing duets. At the beginning of the family concert party, Mrs Ivory was the pianist – her husband also helped out with singing solos etc. Later on, Connie Pether (nee Sylvester), a friend from his previous concert parties, was the pianist and piano accordionist – she also brought along Margaret Baker (piano accordionist) and her two daughters Marilyn and Janet Baker to help out with solo items. By the late 1960s they were called “The Jollities” (after Sam’s old wartime concert party) and by then Ken Breedon (Maggie’s boyfriend – later husband) had also joined the party as a pianist.
Sam was born with a ‘hole in the heart’ and by the time he was 54 his health started to fail. In 1968 he had pioneering heart surgery where the aortic valve was replaced with a plastic one – he was also one of the first patients to have a pacemaker fitted. All this work was carried out by a very dedicated team at the National Heart Hospital in London. After the operation he had a new lease of life for a while and continued to play his saw as a guest artiste at various local concerts. Sadly, after five years his health started to deteriorate again and he had to take life at a slower pace. He died on 25 March 1978 at the age of 65 – almost ten years after his life saving operation.
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