The Cockerills were a famous musical family who came from Birmingham, England.
Arthur Cockerill who was my first double bass teacher, held the position of principal bass in the City of Birmingham Orchestra as it was then called, and also principal bass in the BBC Midland Orchestra. He gave me a thorough grounding. Later on I had to join the Army and off to France, but I did see him often later on in the ‘fifties. He was a polite and courteous man, a true gentleman in the old fashioned sense that you don’t see around much today.
His brother, Bert, was in the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He was killed in an air raid on Bristol to where the BBC Symphony Orchestra had been evacuated from London for “safety”!
There were two harpists, Winifred and John Cockerill, cousins of Arthur, who were principal harpists with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the London Symphony Orchestra respectively.
Winnie was a good harpist, the only woman in the orchestra. She was a very compassionate lady and took some of the men under her wing when they needed help. Keeping up the tradition of bassists and harpists she was married to a very fine bassist, Jimmy Hunt.
John was always immaculate as was his playing. He was reckoned to be among the best harpists in London at the time. Once, when I was sitting near him at a rehearsal I heard him singing a naughty little ditty to the ballet tunes. At that time, callow youth that I was, I didn’t expect to hear a pillar of the profession such as John to be so earthy, but it showed me that some great men are only human at times.