The former lead singer of The Settlers has finally settled for a quieter life, at least for a time
Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
LONDON, UK (ANS – Jan. 14, 2016) – One-time Pop singer and broadcaster, Cindy Kent, has had an extraordinary life in the UK. She began singing with the popular British group, The Settlers, in the early 60s and toured the UK and many parts of the world for 11 years until 1973. During that time, she and the group often performed on stage with Sir Cliff Richard.
I remember once attending a radio broadcast in London during which the controversial Sir Jimmy Savile introduced her as “the girl with the unsettling legs” which brought the house down. The program was called “Speakeasy”, (theme; “Yakety Yack” by the Coasters) and was an hour long young peoples’ uninhibited discussion program hosted by the highly eccentric Savile, who has since died, interspersed with music which often included The Settlers. The unique show dealt with serious issues such as war, education, health and religion and politics.
Cindy (while with The Settlers) also had a hit record called “The Lightning Tree”, which was the signature tune for the hit British TV series, “Follyfoot”.
But then Cindy, who comes originally from West Bromwich in the English Midlands, left the group to “pursue other avenues”.
In a complete change of career, she “fell in love” with radio and moved into broadcasting initially with BBC Radio 4, presenting features on the “Sunday Programme”, a national show that covered all kinds of aspects of religious life in Britain.
After a time, BBC Radio 2 created an early Sunday morning slot which is now called “Good Morning Sunday” which she then hosted. After that she co-presented BBC Radio 1’s show called “Talkabout”.
Around this time, commercial broadcasting was finally emerging from the shadows in Great Britain, and Cindy helped to pioneer religious broadcasting at LBC and Capital Radio in London.
During that time, I would slip out on a Friday afternoon from my job at the Sunday People newspaper, and work with Cindy, Nick Page (and others) on the LBC religion show and do some of the interviews. (I wasn’t very good, but soon learned this new skill by watching Cindy Kent at work).
She then moved north and presented a late-night program at Radio Hallam, a commercial station in Sheffield, Yorkshire. She also presented programmes on Tyne Tees Television in the Tyneside area of North East England.
Cindy wrote some of the tunes, with lyrics by David Winter, the former head of BBC radio religious broadcasting, for the Tyne Tees TV series, “Life With Johnny”. This was one of 25 songs that she and others wrote for the series.
Besides all of this, Cindy would also take time out to train others in media and presentation skills and ran the “Media Awareness Project” for the Mothers’ Union, an international Christian charity that seeks to support families worldwide. Its members are not all mothers or even all women, as there are many parents, men, widows, singles and grandparents involved in its work. It main aim is to support marriage and family life, especially through times of adversity.
Then in 1995 came a breakthrough for Christian broadcasting in the UK when Premier Christian Radio, after a long battle with the British government, managed to secure a broadcasting license for London. Cindy was the first presenter they signed up and, during her long career with them, she has presented many different programs, including hosting “Premier Tonight with Cindy Kent” from 11pm to 1am.
But then, some eight years ago, she entered the next chapter of her life – as a Priest-in-Charge and later Vicar of St John the Apostle Church in Whetstone, in the London Borough of Barnet, with the post code of N20.
In a story by written by Dave Speck for her local paper, The Barnett and Whetstone Press, Revn. Cindy is said to have brought “an element of fun” to parish life, and always the loudest singer, and her clerical at achievements included doubling the congregation to around 160.
“In one service she handed out £10 ($14.41 USD) to each church-goer in order that they would invest it in a worthy cause – a stunt which raised around £3,000 ($4,324.128 USD)”, he wrote.
“On another occasion she brought a toilet into church and filled it with flowers to promote a toilet-twinning scheme which improves hygiene and sanitation in the third world.
“Revd. Kent, who turned 70 last year, says the job has been exciting and enjoyable, and that running up and down the three-storeys at the vicarage has kept her fit. But now she’s ready for a break.”
And that “break” means that she is retiring from being Whetstone’s first female vicar, and at her farewell episcopal service on Sunday, January 10, 2016, the newly elected Bishop of Edmonton, the Rt. Revd. Rob Wickham, gave her a farewell blessing.
“He got me to kneel in the middle of the church and everyone laid hands on me – from the front row to the back – everyone linked together. It was the most amazing feeling of the movement of the Spirit! And after the service, we all went outside and the Bishop plonked his mitre on my head! It felt good!” she Cindy.
But this retirement meant that she had to find a new home, and she has finally settled on a move to the Isle of Sheppey, is an island off the northern coast of Kent, England, in the Thames Estuary, some 46 miles to the east of London.
Cindy has lived in the N20 area since 1973, but the high cost of housing has caused her to look elsewhere and so she turned to prayer to find out where it should be.
“After retirement, I very much wanted to stay there as I knew lots of people in the area and also my son James lives just 10 minutes away,” she said. “But, the price of houses was unbelievable! So, after looking at the fifteenth place which was a bit like a broom cupboard, I went home and cried!”
When Cindy first moved to London in the 60s to pursue her singing career, she shared a flat (apartment) and she told me, “I didn’t fancy doing it again. “‘I want my own front door’, I cried! So I prayed and then went onto Google and thought ‘I’ve always fancied a house with a sea view’ (who hasn’t?), so I typed that in and then the next question was where? So I thought about my surname – Kent – and put that in the Google search and pressed enter. Third on a very long list was this, ‘Stunning uninterrupted dual aspect sea view bungalow!’ It was in the Isle of Sheppey! I’d vaguely heard of it, but didn’t really know where it was, so I went to look at it with a friend and fell in love with the area.
“But,” she added, “it seemed rash making such a move to a place I didn’t know and or I didn’t know anyone there. But then I took James, my son, to see it and he said, ‘Go for it, Mum’! So I did! It’s in a place called Minster [a large village on the north coast of the Isle of Sheppey], which has the oldest working Minster [an honorific title given to particular churches in England) in the country, and is about four roads away from the bungalow.
“I shall enjoy visiting the many churches until I find one I feel at home in. So, I really feel this place is God given – and I’m looking forward to the next chapter of my life.”
But, after such a hectic life, she says she will not rest for long. In a few months’ time she plans to approach her new bishop, the Archbishop of Canterbury (The Most Reverend Justin Welby), to ask if she can become involved in church life again. And that will herald yet another chapter in her extraordinary life.
Photo captions: 1) Cindy, the vicar. 2) Cindy singing with The Settlers on a cruise ship. 3) Cliff Richard recording with The Settlers (Cindy is in the center). 4) Cindy with LP of The Settlers. 5) The Bishop and congregation, laying hands on Cindy. 6) Cindy with Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 75, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. He is the author of some 45 books and has two TV programs and one radio show in Southern California, and has reported widely for ANS from all over the world. He has been friends with Cindy Kent now for more than 40 years.
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