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Redbridge mayor talks politics, marriage and beloved trumpet ahead of charity gig

PUBLISHED: 12:17 18 February 2016 | UPDATED: 12:17 18 February 2016

Mayor Cllr Barbara White and consort Frank White with their instruments

Mayor Cllr Barbara White and consort Frank White with their instruments

Archant

Having an all-singing, trumpet-playing, musical mayor is not something out of the ordinary in Redbridge.

Musician Barbara White, of Bramley Crescent, Gants Hill, became the first female secretary of the East London Branch of the Musicians' Union.Musician Barbara White, of Bramley Crescent, Gants Hill, became the first female secretary of the East London Branch of the Musicians' Union.

Cllr Barbara White, who has been in big band groups for most of her life, has lifted the lid on her musical past to the Recorder ahead of her charity gig in Ilford on Sunday.

Cllr White, who represents Goodmayes Ward, said she became interested in politics after becoming the first female secretary of the Musicians’ Union.

“I have always been a community person, I have always had a social conscience,” said the Labour councillor. “I have been active in the union for about 30 years.

“My first experience was a little strange – there were a few dinosaurs that didn’t really welcome it at first.”

The mayor, who met her saxophonist husband Frank while playing in the same band as a youngster, admitted it was not unusual for her to turn up to ceremonial events and know people playing in orchestras.

“They would say here’s a trumpet, come up and play or come up and sing,” she said.

“Music has always been there and it doesn’t feel unusual at all – I think we’re quite lucky.”

Cllr White said there was “nothing like the camaraderie among musicians” and spoke of her love for the big band sound.

“It has a feel-good factor and it’s great fun to play,” she added.

The singer, a “toddler bride” who married Frank in 1962, said music has helped her as mayor.

“It gives you a good insight into people and helps you mix and communicate,” she said.

“I think other councillors quite like the idea of what we do, but I wish they all supported the arts a bit more.”

Speaking about her passion for culture, Cllr White said: “The arts to me are a frontline service – it’s so important.”

Frank, who has played for the likes of Petula Clark and ABBA, added: “It’s so valuable, but not everyone sees it.”


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