I was born in Norwich on 7th January 1940 - a war baby! After attending three local
schools, I started work at a well known department store; Henry Jarvis. I enjoyed
working there, starting on the haberdashery dept, then onto display / window dressing.
It was in 1956 that I bought my first LP record, the soundtrack to the film 'Rock Pretty Baby'. It cost £1.19s.11d, which was more than a weeks wages then! I still have it. In 1957 I left Jarvis and went to Sainsburys where I met my first husband.
I thought I'd lived a very ordinary life; always having to work, and living in the
same house for over forty years. Jobs have included hand sewing sheepskin gloves
at home (sometimes my fingers would bleed), domestic cleaning, office work, and Mark's
However when I think back I have some wonderful memories.
From an early age I'd loved films, going to the cinema as often as my pocket money would allow. Saturday morning westerns - Roy Rogers / Gene Autry / Hopalong Cassidy etc… I've always loved musicals and have a good collection now. My pin-up of the 1950's was Fernando Lamas. His pictures were all over my bedroom wall. One of my favourite films of his is 'Dangerous When Wet' with Esther Williams, whom he married. I still have a series of books that I bought in the 1950's called 'Fan's Library'; each individual book about a famous film star. I really treasure them. In 1997 they were featured on a TV programme called 'Heirloom', hosted by John Blyth. Also on display were a couple of table cloths that I'd embroidered - John called them 'heirlooms of the future'.
1960 - I was chosen to represent J. Sainsbury for the Queen of Industry Beauty Competition. I didn't win the main event but I enjoyed the experience.
1961 - My daughter Anne was born - The light of my life.
Just An Ordinary Life
1962 - A friend and I went to see Chubby Checker at the theatre and he asked members of the audience to come up on the stage and dance with him. I couldn't persuade my friend to join me but couldn't miss the opportunity of doing The Twist with Chubby.
1973 - I have always been a fan of Cliff Richard, and he was due to appear in a play called 'The Potting Shed' at Bromley. I was lucky enough to meet him after his performance and we had a nice chat - he was so friendly. He told me that his sister lived in Norfolk and he loved visiting the area.
1977 - I met local singer Peter Collins and thought he was fantastic. With his permission
I started a fan club and it was quite successful, until I decided to disband it.
I accompanied Peter and his group Style to many of their gigs and loved every minute, meeting many of his fans. It was a wonderful time. Peter and Style appeared three times of 'New Faces' - I'll never understand why nationwide success didn't happen for them.
Read more on my Pete Collins page
1982 - I worked for Jill Applin Entertainments, and Jill co-produced a musical called 'Forever Elvis', which was at The Windmill Theatre, Great Yarmouth. For the premiere, Jill arranged for Dee Presley, Elvis' Stepmother to be there. She came to the office during the day and was very friendly. Pleased to say she only had good things to say about Elvis. I had my photo taken with her, which I really treasure. One day Leyton Sommers, who portrayed Elvis in the show came into the office wearing a white jumpsuit. He took my breath away, looking exactly like Elvis.
1990 - I had always done hand-embroidery and started framing individual roses. Having had several exhibitions, I decided to contact the gift department at Harrods of London in the hope that they might buy some. Everyone thought this was a bit over ambitious, but after making an appointment, I took 15 pictures (all I could carry), and they bought them all! I felt quite proud that my work was on display at such a prestigious store.
1992 - After taking early retirement at 52 from Marks and Spencer I decided to go all out and follow my teenage dream. I wrote to BBC Television's 'Primetime' and asked if they'd make a viewers dream come true - mine was to sing to an audience. Several months went by and I'd given up hope. However a researcher contacted me and after an audition at BBC TV Centre, I recorded the show. I sang 'Lady Is A Tramp' accompanied by the BBC Big Band - a fantastic debut for me. The show was hosted by Roy Castle who was so nice. He went out of his way to help and make me feel at ease. At the time it was felt that he had overcome the cancer, but sadly it returned.
1997 - With another contestant auditioning for the Barrymore Show
2007 - Britain's Got Talent
I'd never even sung in front of family or friends, so it came as a total shock when they heard of my ambitions. And since then I'm pleased to say that I have achieved more than I ever thought possible - Appearing on 'Esther', 'Trisha', auditioning for 'Stars In Their Eyes', taking part in talent competitions, recording a CD of the 'old songs' - several tracks have been played on local radio. After seeing many shows at the Britannia Pier Theatre, Great Yarmouth, I was thrilled when asked to sing at the British Heart Foundation Charity Show.
1992 - I decided to write my life story; Not for publication of course, but a family history to pass on to my daughter. So far there are 180 typed pages and many family photos.
From 1993 to 2004 I worked at a local entertainment agency that booked many of the East Coast holiday venues, responsible for all accounts - VAT, invoicing etc. A job I really loved but the agency ceased to operate.
Who says 'Life begins at 40'? It can happen at any age. While I shall always regret not singing when younger, I'm having a great time now.
PERHAPS MY LIFE HAS NOT BEEN SO ORDINARY AFTER ALL!
My husband Bill and I are both retired and have to say we love it. Not having to live by the clock is wonderful and I can honestly say we don't get bored. We've been together for 30 years and still enjoy each others company. Mutual interests include films, music TV and shopping! Bill seems to enjoy gardening more nowadays; even growing plants from seed.
I use my computer to store photos (Mainly family); So far there are over 5000 on there. Have transferred all records - 33's - 45's - 78's onto mini disc. This took over three years to complete and includes typing all track titles in alphabetical order.
Like many people who reach a 'certain age' I have experienced health problems. Twice
I've nearly died* and require regular check ups at the hospital.
This has made me realise that you must make the best of your life.
*1994 - Pancreatitis *1997 - Septicaemia
2006 - Diabetes 2009 - Hysterectomy
Like most people, I've had my share of ups and downs. But whatever happened, my family have always been the most important part of my life. Mum - Dad - Anne - Son In Law David - Grandsons Matthew and Alex - Granddaughter Emily and of course my dear husband Bill
Anne & David
Olive May Harrald
06/05/1914 - 13/01/2009
Charles William Harrald
25/05/1906 - 16/07/1985