Jazz bands were sweet music for Irene and Pennywell Toreadors

Irene Jukes, centre, with her parents Joe and Mary Thurlbeck.

Irene Jukes, centre, with her parents Joe and Mary Thurlbeck.

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A recent appeal for memories of jazz bands was music to the ears of Irene Jukes.

It was part of her life for around 14 years.

The  Toreadors are winners at the Odeon in 1969.

The Toreadors are winners at the Odeon in 1969.

Irene got in touch after last week’s photograph of the Pennywell Toreadors Jazz Band, shown marching through the streets in 1974.

The memories she shared were of a wonderful childhood in which she progressed from a four-year-old banner holder to an 18-year-old drum major.

The Toreadors were formed by Irene’s parents Joe and Mary Thurlbeck in the early 1960s and they ran it until around 1985.

It was a jewel in the Pennywell crown and attracted dozens of children.

Looking resplendant in their uniforms.

Looking resplendant in their uniforms.

“I remember it as plain as anything,” said Irene. “Mam and dad put me in at four-and-a-half. When I started, I was on the back of the banner holding the rope.

“I went on to become a mascot and I played the drums for a while. Eventually, I became a drum major.”

Practice sessions were held at Havelock School and later in the Pennywell Community Centre.

Andrea wasn’t lacking for company in the Toreadors. Most of her family were in it as well.

Pennywell jazz band  in March 1974.

Pennywell jazz band in March 1974.

All her sisters – Margaret (later Hann); Alice (Allen); Ann (Blakelock) and Jean – got involved.

And so did seven grandchildren to add to the family flavour, as well as plenty of friends.

Irene added: “I wish I could go back to those years. We classed them as holidays and we used to go all over.

“We went round Yorkshire, we went to Scotland, and we did carnivals for charities.

“Once, we played at the Odeon and won a load of cups and medals.”

The Torreadors eventually folded as interest dwindled in its later years.

But for Irene, it was a special era: “It was the time of our lives.”