A Song For Hazel

The CVFolk Treasury

A Song For Hazel, BBC1 Sept 1984

Broadcast on BBC Midlands in September1984, this 30-minute documentary reflected on the life of Coventry folk fan Hazel Lester, who had died a year earlier. Hazel had refused treatment for cancer as she had been pregnant when it had been diagnosed and wanted the baby to have a strong chance of survival. By the time the baby (Adam) was born, Hazel’s illness had progressed too far for treatment.

Friends of Hazel on the Coventry folk scene organised a day-long festival called Come Together to raise money for a trust fund for Adam and some of the music included in this programme was filmed at that event. News of the festival reached the national tabloids, many of which chose to run front-page stories on how Hazel ‘sacrificed’ her own life to give the ‘gift of life’ to her baby. This rather sensationalised and simplified news story ignored some of the more complex details of Hazel’s life such as her left-wing politics, her refusal to conform with conventional lifestyle expectations and her passion for folk music as a singer and supporter of local clubs. This programme went to some lengths to examine these more interesting and nuanced aspects of Hazel’s personality.

Apart from the memories for people who knew Hazel, the programme offers a fascinating snapshot of some of the characters and music of the Coventry folk scene in the 1980s. It includes contributions (speech and music) by Kevin Dempsey, Margot Buchanan, Nigel Ward, Dennis Clarke, Pete Willow, and the late Dave Bennett, Mick Cullen, and Derek Brimstone.