A SINGER in a punk band, a Glastonbury career and now a film star - no, not the CV of an A-list celebrity but of an 82-year-old great- grandmother from South East Cornwall.
Viva Hamnell's extraordinary life - which also includes surviving the London Blitz and being arrested for drug possession - has been made into a short film, to be shown on Channel 4. The pensioner, who lives at St Anne's Chapel near Gunnislake, is the subject of a documentary by award-winning Devon-based director Amanda Bluglass.
I've always lived life as it comes, Viva said. To me it's just my life history, but there have been so many people along the way, and the punk era in particular brought something alive in me.
Viva was one of four members of Callington punk band The Bricks, formed in the mid-1970s: We were all just sat in the Queen's Head in Albaston when a friend said he wanted to start a band but was worried he'd have to find proper musicians. He said, 'Well, there's five of us here', and within three weeks we were gigging in pubs.
Viva was around 45 at the time and, as one of Cornwall's first punk bands, her appearance in The Bricks, along with son Simon, attracted media coverage: Being the eldest, I got a lot of attention in the media but I really was 'notalent-at-all-Hamnell'. The others were good and I just sang backing vocals. It got quite famous, really.
She has spent the past 30 years working at the Glastonbury Festival, as a compere and managing a market - a job she only left at the age of 80: I thought I should go before I was pushed, she joked - but her passion of late has been performing on stage via her Beer Crate Moment, a small touring company created by her friend Jane Spurr.
In a burnished bronze evening gown and tiara, Viva invites people among her audience to pick a story from her favourite Vivienne Westwood handbag and proceeds to regale them with a personal tale of that chosen topic.
She has performed across the county, and one of her favourite venues is the Port 'A friend told me about Viva and the minute I met her I just knew this film had to happen' Director Amanda Bluglass Eliot Festival: I talk about the London Blitz, moving to Cornwall, the punk band - just about anything, really, she explained. I do enjoy it; especially the smaller venues; we've done some in Falmouth, in St Austell and even in a graveyard.
Having spent the past six months filming Viva, Amanda Bluglass has edited the film down for Channel 4, but now needs money to purchase 1970s footage from the BBC and enter the film into festivals worldwide.
Amanda said: A friend told me about Viva and the minute I met her I just knew this film had to happen.
We've followed Viva from her farmhouse to Glastonbury, reliving her years of leading a punk band at night while working as a lollipop lady in Callington during the day.
The footage from the BBC is such a find and will transport the viewer back decades. We've just got to have that footage for the mini-feature film, and the donations are rolling in beautifully.
Amanda has created a crowdfunding platform at www.sponsume.com/ project/viva COMMENT Remember Viva and The Bricks? Reminisce at cornishguardian.co.uk
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