IN a change to the usual format of Trawler Corner and memories of a bygone Milford, Jeff Dunn recalls the life and times of ‘Mr Milford,’ Roger Arnold.

MILFORD recently lost one of its favourite sons, Roger Arnold, a name that echoed around the local entertainment world for over 60 years.

Everybody knew Roger.

Way back in the 1950s, we were in rival skiffle groups, but, over the last 25 years, we enjoyed a strong collaboration, raising funds for charity in shows like Sentimental Journey, Land Ladies, Magic Moments, The Fabulous 50s and 60s, and, of course, all the original Milford Mercury talent contests.

With the help of his wife Margaret, and his sister Yvonne, here is just a taste of his life.

Roger was the middle of three children born to Clifford and Hilda Arnold at St Peter's Rd, Milford Haven, on 27th November 1944.

As a child he suffered quite a lot, having been born with asthma and eczema, but that didn't stop him from doing what he wanted to do.

He attended Meads Infants, North Road Boys, then Milford Haven Central schools, where he took part in a number of their productions.

One Xmas, his mum bought him an Archie Andrews puppet, which he loved, and he spent many hours performing with his friend.

He joined the cubs; and went on to be a Sea Cadet with his long-time partner-in-crime, Kenny Hackett. They went on to join the Army Cadets.

He was always interested in music, and at one stage, played a guitar which his dad had lovingly made for him, and that was painted by a friend, Jimmy Buck.

But his main love was the drums. He didn't read music; but was still able to play a ‘mean’ drum.

He was part of the City Gents Six Jazz Group, with Ronnie Littlehales, Ken Harries, Brian Jobson and Wally Rowan, and, as well as playing locally, also went to Romilly Sur Seine, Milford's twin town, where they were a great success.

He became drummer in the famous Don Wade and the Wayfarers, then, with Brian Jobson, for many years, was part of the highly popular Knight and Daye, writing a number of songs about the demise of the fishing industry, and featuring large in the ‘Bring Back Pembrokeshire’ campaign.

Roger's health became a concern, and he was told that he had angina and needed to cease all strenuous activity. The news nearly broke his heart, as he sold his drum kit and left the duo. He was still able to entertain, and had a Sunday morning slot on Radio Pembrokeshire, as Selwyn, with lots of people tuning in to listen to his ‘banter’.

But life wasn't the same, and he suffered some very low moments.

After two years he had more hospital tests, only to be told that he didn't, after all, have angina…he had indigestion!

He immediately put together another drum kit and, with Nigel Clarke, took to the road again as the popular duo, Clarke and Arnold.

He travelled to both America and France with Milford Haven Town Band; and took part in a number of parades playing the bass drum.

In 1972, Roger married Margaret, who said…"I first came to the Lord Nelson from Manchester, to work as a receptionist. I didn't know a soul; but fell in love with the place.

“When Roger first saw me, he said to Brian Jobson…I'm going to marry her. (He was engaged to another at the time.) We officially became an item in November 1971, he proposed at Xmas, and we got married on 29/1/1972.

“My parents hadn't a clue who I was marrying…and shook hands with Brian Jobson…thinking it was him!"

Sadly, their first-born son, Mark, died, but they went on to have Daniel, David and Sarah.

In recent years, Roger was part of a Swing Group featuring the late Billy Jenkins, Nick Carter, Denis Wheeler, and another Dennis and Roger. They had a ‘blast’ on Tuesday mornings at the Royal British Legion for their own pleasure and that of anyone else who was there.

Roger was a devoted family man, a wonderful cook, and a gifted carpenter (designed and built Margaret her own little summerhouse), but he will always be remembered as being Mr Variety.

And there is no doubt that entertainment flows copiously through all the Arnold family veins.

Daniel plays drums in a local band, David is currently appearing in a summer show at the Babbacombe Theatre in Devon, Sarah's daughter Amy plays cornet, and her son Ben plays drums. Daniel's son Ashton plays drums, and daughter Elysia is having guitar and singing lessons.

Jeff, Roger's brother, plays guitar and sings, his son Tom plays saxophone and drums…and Yvonne, Roger's sister, is in the Neyland Ladies Choir and the Milford Town Band.

As you can imagine…no-one whoever attended an Arnold family party went away disappointed.

There are so many comical stories that show the class of Roger…like his turning up at his mother's 70th birthday with a mysterious suitcase…and changing into seven different comic costumes throughout the evening…and the time when he ‘lost’ his teeth on the way home from the Whetham…then, when, for a gourmet chinese meal he'd prepared for the Arnold clan, he cut the legs off the dining table and lowered it onto a revolving turntable!

Unfortunately, I cannot possibly include everything to describe, fully, the life and times of Roger, but thanks to Margaret and Yvonne, I hope this brief, potted history, does justice to his memory, and offer my own personal thanks for all his help and friendship.