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Settlers' singer now living on Sheppey spills the beans

By John Nurden

The Rev Cindy Kent is a retired Church of England priest now living on the Isle of Sheppey.

For years she worked in the world of show business as lead singer of 1960s folk group The Settlers.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal rocking Hollywood, she reveals in her own words what life was really like in those days...

The Rev Cindy Kent
The Rev Cindy Kent

The Harvey Weinstein affair has opened the floodgates to a flurry of memories of inappropriate behaviour.

The hashtag #metoo on social media has encouraged many women, and a few men, to recall awkward incidents – some more serious than others.

I posted a couple of comments myself. Because there had been so many it was hard to know where to stop!

This problem is not just in show business. But let’s start there.

Cover to The Lightning Tree by The Settlers featuring Cindy Kent who now lives on the Isle of Sheppey
Cover to The Lightning Tree by The Settlers featuring Cindy Kent who now lives on the Isle of Sheppey

I was lead singer with The Settlers through the 1960s and early 1970s and worked with the “great and the good”. I worked a lot with Jimmy Savile who, at the time, combined both of those attributes.

He raised much money for various charities. But behind the scenes he did some atrocious things to very young girls – some of whom were in a hospital bed and couldn’t do anything about it.

I guess all of us who worked with him – we were regularly on his radio show Speakeasy – would openly talk about his caravan “rocking” during the night as Jimmy indulged in his sexual habits.

The late Jimmy Savile. Picture: BBC Jim'll Fix It
The late Jimmy Savile. Picture: BBC Jim'll Fix It

But I don’t think, hand on heart, any of us quite realised how young some of those girls were. I certainly didn’t.

But, and here’s that phrase, things were different then. It doesn’t excuse it but it does explain it.

If every man who, uninvited, put his hand on my knee, or any other part of my body, were to resign, as Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has done, then there would be many vacancies in show business, large corporations and even the Church!

I remember one musician who greeted me every time we met by placing both his hands on my breasts, twizzling my nipples and saying: “I wonder if you can get Radio Luxembourg on these?”

I was expected to stand there and smile – and I did!

I can’t believe I didn’t whack him around the head or worse! But I didn’t. Why not?

Cindy Kent, former lead singer with 60s folk band the Settlers has now settled on the Isle of Sheppey.
Cindy Kent, former lead singer with 60s folk band the Settlers has now settled on the Isle of Sheppey.

I honestly have no good explanation other than it was something that happened and I put up with it.

I’m grateful that I worked with three guys who looked after me in many northern nightclubs when the local lothario decided that it was his job to “pull” the female singer that week.

We developed a “code”.

If I mentioned the ceiling it meant “come and rescue me”. If I didn’t mention the ceiling, they left me alone. There were times when I was chatted up after a show by someone I quite fancied!

I was young, free and single and quite happy to spend time in the company of another pop singer or DJ.

The late great Ed Stewart was one who had a crush on me and followed us around from gig to gig.

We dated a few times and his fellow DJs on Radio London would play Cindy Oh Cindy and dedicate it to me from him!

He was always a perfect gentleman, albeit constantly turning up without his wallet (but that’s another story).

I vividly remember one vicar rubbing up behind me as I was sorting out some files in an office which was very embarrassing.

And another who frequently made lurid sexy comments and put his hand on more than my knee.

Many of the situations we are hearing about now are very serious.

My friend Jayne Ozanne was brave enough to go public on Channel 4 about being raped by a priest. She explained how the ordeal affected her for many years.

But there are also incidents which are being taken out of proportion.

Mountains are being made from molehills.

And that demeans very serious cases like that of my friend.

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