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The Blue Plaque

Back in June 2017 I was called in to Radio Cornwall in Truro to receive a prestigious Blue Plaque for Brenda. BBC Local Radio had organised a Music Day nationwide, and as part of the event, all 40 local radio station asked their listeners to nominate the most important musical celebrity of their area. For Radio Cornwall, the clear winner was Brenda.

I pitched up with all the family (it was in my Yellow Period), and joined John the Fish and Merv Davey in the studio for the interview. The plaque was heavy and impressive - and we had a spare for... I don't know, just in case I suppose. It felt like such a great honour, and I know the award would have thrilled Brenda - a huge vote of confidence from her Radio Cornwall listeners.

The next issue was what to do with it. Logically, Radio Cornwall itself seemed a feasible site, but there were problems. It was not a place where it would be seen by large numbers of people, and more importantly, the owner of the building didn't want a plaque affixed to his wall. Brenda's various houses, in Leskinnick Street in Penzance, and on the moors at Ding Dong, were also low on foot traffic. The obvious place, historically, and with sufficient passing public, was the Count House at Botallack. But it was owned by the National Trust - would they be willing?

My email asking for that permission received no reply. In 2020 I tried again, and I finally got a reply from the National Trust chappy in charge at Botallack - Ian Marsh. He turned out to be the grandson of one of Brenda's biggest fans, one Gerald Truscott who founded the Ashtorre Rock Centre in Saltash, of which Brenda was Honorary President in her later years. Anyway - Ian replied that they would be honoured and delighted to have Brenda's Blue Plaque on their wall at Botallack, and offered to host an unveiling ceremony with live music.

Some of my grandchildren joined me and John the Fish for the event.

Well, we had our unveiling ceremony in July 2021... which was delighful, but actually not the permanent fixture we'd hoped for. That took a little longer (with me writing increasingly agitated letters to the poor manager at Botallack)... but I'm here to tell you, that nearly 7 years after I first clasped the plaque in my pudgy fingers, it is now finally, and permanently, fixed to the wall of the Count House - and I couldn't be thrilleder. The Count House Cafe is open most days - but it doesn't need to be open for you to take a look for yourself at this iconic piece of Cornwall's musical history.

The Count House, Botallack, St Just

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