By Jim Hollands
With our whole world gripped in a stranglehold by an invisible enemy,
many lives have been turned upside down. We are now either among the
bravest of the brave in the front line with the NHS or, volunteers
on the ground supporting NHS staff or with the majority, locked-in
at home helping the doctors and nurses by slowing the spread of the
disease that is taking more lives every day.
As a frustrated magazine producer, unable to even distribute all the
April issues of Rye’s Own, Hastings Town and Cinque Ports to the shops
because (1) many are closed and (2) I am now ‘confined to barracks’
with all those not classed as critical workers.
I am also frustrated because even if it will be possible to produce
and distribute next month’s magazines, what is there happening to
A very special story
Then it struck me – I am sitting on a very special story – A story
of hope, a story of never give up whatever the obstacle and a story
that links with the dark days of 1940 and the same obstinacy that
was generated from the British people then.
This is the story of two very special young women, fantastic singers
and dancers, who perform wartime and other vintage songs at Wartime
memorials, festivals and events all over the country. They are hailed
as stars by wartime heroes and held in high esteem by vintage music
and fashion followers. It has been my special privilege to know both
of them, they have both helped with features and articles for Vintage
World and our other three magazines, Rye’s Own, Hastings Town and
I first met Holly Chambers at the Walnut Tree, Aldington, in 2010
where she was performing with The Clover Sisters in American uniforms,
doing many Andrews Sisters numbers.
I photographed the group several times at shows and events over the following couple of years.
Holly went on to be a stand alone singer on Cruise Ships, still following the vintage path in dress and music. On the first cruise she became known as Miss Holiday Swing, a title she still retains for her solo performances.
I next came across Holly at the 2013 War & Peace Revival, held at
Folkestone Racecourse. By now the real quality of her voice was showing through and she was invited to appear on the main stage with the Jive
In 2015 another young woman with a spectacular voice did a trial at
War & Peace and was so well received was immediately booked for the
following year. Victoria Bass There can be very few 16 year old singers
who have the ‘star’ quality and confidence that Victoria exuded.
The following year Victoria and Holly teamed up for a few numbers
throughout the show and by the time that the next War & Peace Revival
came round, the show had moved to the Hopfields near Tonbridge and
Holly and Victoria had become The Duettes (very soon renamed as The
Dulcettes). They were show-stoppers and played to packed audiences
in the Victory Marquee with other vintage performers, including Scott
Elvis, the best Elvis since the one with a second name of Presley.
Adam Hoffman, the most versatile performer in show business and the
one and only Viv the Spiv (Ian Dawson).
Each year they have gone from strength, working as The Dulcettes and
separately as Miss Holiday Swing and Victoria Bass. They are both
also members of the international group called The Satin Dollz and
sing all over the UK with them, plus a new venture ‘The Dulcettes
with The Dreamrollers Jazz Band had a great reception at their very
first performance and were fully booked for the second show which
was to take place in London but cancelled because of coronavirus.
This year Victoria and Holly were booked to appear in shows all over
Kent and the rest of the country. It all started well but then everything
came to a standstill as lock-down came into force. All shows in the
immediate future have been cancelled and the Dulcettes, who work full
time as performers, found themselves out a job.
Singing through the crisis
They both performed at Nursing Homes in and around Folkestone and
Ashford but restrictions soon came down that cut them off from singing
at these venues but this was where the fight back came. Just before
movement restrictions came in Holly arrived in the Court Yard of one
nursing home, set up her microphones, speakers, switched on her phone
and set it to play live on social media and started singing to those
inside who had been cut off from family visitors. The results were
sensational. Residents came to their windows and onto the balcony,
they joined in with singing and even dancing. One gentleman even sung
a few verses for Holly in a rich baritone voice. Finishing with a
few wartime classics, Holly had them all singing along. What a wonderful
effort – should be televised as a bit of good news to mix with the endles misery being pumped out on every channel.
Soon both Holly and Victoria were stuck indoors with the rest of us,
but you can’t stop a good singer singing. Soon they were putting out
individual programmes to keep their fans happy, they even overcame
enormous technical difficulties to put on a split screen performance,
singing individually but chatting to each other and over 800 watchers
as they went along.
As good as Doris Day
Victoria had put on a memorable individual performance the evening
before. Dressed in a black dress with eye catching ear-rings and
talking to viewers in a cheerful but very intimate way, she reminded
me of the cosy programmes put out by Doris Day, one of my favourites,
in the 1950s.
To say that these two lovely girls cheered up anyone who watched and
listened, would be an understatement. They are better than most performers
on national television and I feel sure as more and more people see
these wonderful one hour programmes put on by them, it will just be
a matter of time before they are whisked off to the studios by BBC
or ITV. They deserve no less.
This is just the basis of the story that will appear in the next published
issue of Rye’s Own.
You can get an annual subscription to Rye’s Own Here
All articles, photographs and drawings on this web site are World Copyright Protected. No reproduction for publication without prior arrangement.
© World Copyright 2020 Cinque Ports Magazines Rye Ltd., Guinea Hall Lodge Sellindge TN25 6EG