IN reply to the article in The Bugle (March 6 edition) about Ted Heath.
I was his last vocalist between 1957 and 1960 and was then Tricia Payne, a West Bromwich girl who lived at Hollyhedge Road, Charlemont.
As a child I was always singing and from the age of 15 would queue for tickets whenever Ted Heath was playing a Sunday concert near West Bromwich.
I admired not only his music but also the voices of Lita Rosa, Dickie Valentine and Dennis Lotis. It became my ambition one day to sing with the Ted Heath orchestra.
My brother-in-law was Bob Carter who formed the Hedley Ward Trio based on the Nat King Cole trio for those old enough to remember. Bob was a brilliant musician and encouraged me to sing as he realised I had great potential.
At 16 years of age under the name of Pat Marion, I joined the Ken Rat jazz band and enjoyed singing jazz for three years. I then sang with Bob Carter's band for a while.
Following an audition at ATV's studios in Aston, I performed on a television show called Time for Rhythm with Bob Carter. At that time television was only in black and white. I was then asked to sing on Rainbow Room hosted by Jean Morton and this was followed by many week-long appearances on Lunch Box with Noel Gordon and the Jerry Allen Quartet.
This was a live show with an audience but a wonderful experience and so exciting for my family.
I read in The Melody Maker that Ted Heath was looking for a resident female vocalist and my brother-in-law Bob Carter insisted I take a recording to him. We went to the Aeolian Hall in Bond Street, London, where Heath did his Saturday lunchtime radio shows and left my tape of Long Ago and Far Away which I sang on Lunch Box. Much to my amazement I received a telephone call the following week to go and see him and I was offered the job. It was unbelievable that a girl from West Bromwich was to sing with the Ted Heath Orchestra. I had achieved my ambition.
Ted Heath preferred my own name Patricia Payne, hence Tricia Payne. Lita Rosa and Dickie Valentine had left the band and Dennis Lotis left soon after I joined and Bobby Britton joined at the same time as me.
I was with Ted Heath for three years singing all over the UK and abroad and it was a wonderful and happy experience. I met many stars often on the same show such as Petula Clark, Adam Faith, Lonny Donegan, Ann Shelton, Ruby Murray, Mat Munro and Tommy Steel to name but a few.
Dickie Valentine became a very good friend of mine.
However, it was only an ambition to sing with Heath and the hectic life wasn't very appealing to me, so I came back home where I met Paul Lister, then a Director of James Lister and Sons, West Bromwich. We have been married for 52 years and live in Shropshire. We have three beautiful daughters and five grandchildren.
I am proud of my singing career and proved that you can achieve your ambition if you work hard at it.