Music man Alan's singing star relative

Broseley-born singing star Janie Marden had a voice which graced many top television shows in the 1960s.

Broseley-born singing star Janie Marden died in her 50s.
Broseley-born singing star Janie Marden died in her 50s.

So perhaps it's not surprising that one of her Shropshire relatives, Alan Parker, has also made a bit of a name for himself with his singing.

The other day we featured the story of Janie, whose real name was Janet Instone and was the only child of Mr and Mrs Edward Instone, of New Road in Broseley.

Although her family's Shropshire links were soon broken as she was not yet two when they moved to Bristol, she left behind relatives in the county.

Alan, who is 82 and lives in Lilleshall, has been able to give us a little more information, as Janie was his mother's niece.

He said: "My mother was an Instone before she married, and was related to Janie Marden. She was Olive Instone, and used to live on the farm, Woodlands Farm, at Broseley Wood. I was born on that farm. It's no longer a farm now, it's been converted into a house and all the barns are now barn conversions."

Olive's brother was Edward Instone, who was Janie Marden's father. Janie was born Janet Instone and took on the stage name Janie Marden, which was chosen from a London phone book.

Alan does not think he ever met her.

"I heard a lot about her. I used to see her on television. My mother and relatives told me about her, that we had this famous singing star.

"I've done some singing myself and wondered if it ran in the family. I sing in three choirs – Newport and District, Shifnal and District, and Halfway House, which are male voice choirs."

Alan has also raised thousands of pounds for charity with CDs of his singing.

He knows little about Janie's life.

"My mother would have known about this, but she died a few years ago."

However Mike Grainger, a hobby genealogist from Newport, has been doing some digging and it turns out that Janie's husband was the composer of an instantly recognisable piece of music, even if many people will not recognise it by the title.

"Puffin' Billy" by Edward White is evocative of 1950s jolly japes and is so quintessentially "middle England" from that era that it was used as the opening theme to the Comic Strips’ two parodies of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five adventures.

Mike's researches show that Janie was the daughter of Edward and Eveline Instone – Eveline's maiden name was Garbett – and that she was born Janet Hilliard Instone on February 23, 1934.

Janie's husband Ed White was much older than her, being born in 1910. He was a noted composer of light music. Their marriage date is not known.

Janie went into showbusiness in the 1950s and her singing career shone brightest throughout the first part of the 1960s when she was a staple on various television shows like Morecambe & Wise, the Frankie Howerd Show and the Benny Hill Show, and in cabaret.

She then seems to disappear off the radar and Mike has found that she died some time during the 1980s in Can Pastilla, Mallorca, where the couple had no doubt moved. It would mean she died relatively young, in her 50s.

Her husband survived her, living to 1994.

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