Who was Auntie Mabel?

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“Big band saxophonist, ladies’ hairdresser, hotelier, village shopkeeper, wife, mother, grandmother… and keeper of many family stories. Auntie Mabel – actually my grandmother’s cousin – was a raconteur, brimming with recollections. Her stories inspired me when I first set out on researching the family history; she’d entertain me with tales of her father’s dance band playing at Boots’ cafe, her grandparent’s pub by the clock tower, and enterprising Victorian aunts and uncles.

It was as I grew older that I realised how remarkable her own life had been: broadcasting on the radio in her 20s, touring with an all-women big band, and running a seaside hotel.

You’ll meet Auntie Mabel from time to time in my blog posts, as I begin to piece together her life story. And I hope that Auntie Mabel’s enthusiasm for sharing stories from the past shines over this website.”

Graham Barker