In 2014 Judith East contacted Playlist for Life about making a playlist for her mother, Florence. Florence was living in a nursing home and, despite her Alzheimer’s, would sing and entertain staff with favourite songs from her younger years, songs she could recall word-perfect.  Judith created a playlist for her Mum and we supplied the family with a second-hand iPod so that Florence could have access to her music whenever she needed it.

My mother, Florence East, was born in London on 26th April 1925, the eldest surviving child of a family of five. Her mother died at 40 after a long illness and it fell to Florence to hold the family together aged 14, at the outbreak of WWII. When her younger siblings were evacuated, Florence took to singing at the local club where she accompanied her father.

Florence lost herself in musical theatre, and after joining the Womens’ Royal Air Force, she appeared as a vocalist in concert parties and recorded songs from the musical Showboat.

Listen to Florence performing Make Believe from Showboat click here then click on the music section

Florence often talked about once missing a local talent competition that was won by another young woman named Vera Lynn. Florence always believed she would have beaten Vera and become the Forces Sweetheart herself!

After meeting a dashing older man called Jim, Florrie settled into family life and put her ideas of a singing career on permanent hold to raise their three children, and later, to care for seven grandchildren. Sadly, Jim succumbed to cancer in 1987 but music and singing continued to be a happy part of Florence’s life, and she encouraged her eldest grand-daughter to sing and play piano and violin. – Judith East

Judith emailed us in June 2017 to let us know that the iPod was “still going strong”. A few months later, on 31st October, Florence passed away.

Judith told us Mother was lucid up until her last day and I am sure that the music kept her going for as long as possible.” We are very grateful to Judith and her family for allowing us to share Florence’s story and for giving us permission to share the wonderful recording and photographs.

Florence listening to her music