Back in the swinging Sixties, it was quite a job saving Jagger from the wild girls...

Anna Askew

Anna Askew - Credit: Archant

Red Cross stalwart Anna recalls her days providing first aid at Stevenage Locarno

Stevenage landmark: the Locarno and Mecca complex

Stevenage landmark: the Locarno and Mecca complex - Credit: Archant

A Stevenage pensioner fondly recalls being invited for a drink with Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones after they performed in the town 50 years ago.

Anna Askew, who lives in Shephall Green, was a member of the town’s branch of the Red Cross in her teenage years.

Throughout the 1960s the group was called upon every week to man first aid stations when bands played at the town centre Locarno, now the Mecca bingo hall.

Anna remembers hearing the endless screams of girls when groups such as The Who and Gerry and the Pacemakers visited Stevenage.

Still rolling: The Rolling Stones in the 1960s

Still rolling: The Rolling Stones in the 1960s - Credit: Archant


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The 65-year-old said: “It used to be great fun. My mother Emila was one of the commandants of the Red Cross and my sister and I were teenagers when all these bands were coming to Stevenage.

“We were senior cadets in the group so we would stand by either side of the stage. There would be literally hundreds of girls screaming, being sick and crying with make-up running down their faces.

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“Our job was to get anyone who had collapsed out of the crowd and to stop the girls getting too close to the stage.

“Looking back it all seems quite funny but at the time it was really scary because so many of the girls were manic.

Inside the Locarno in its golden years

Inside the Locarno in its golden years - Credit: Archant

“When The Rolling Stones came I was standing at the side of the stage and was just a few feet away from Mick Jagger for the whole concert.

“They were magnificent. Mick was dancing all over the stage and really playing the part.

“There was one girl who was screaming so much and trying to touch him that she passed out and we had to take her to the first aid station.

“As we were taking her there she recovered and kept on trying to get to him.

“After the concert Mick came over and invited my mum, my sister and me to come and have a drink with him and the band.

“It was lovely. They were all really nice people. At the time my mum had a massive crush on Charlie Watts, the band’s drummer, and she was really excited.

“Guitarist Brian Jones was such a beautiful man with his blonde hair.

“The whole thing was really surreal but brilliant all in one.”

After leaving the cadets, Anna worked as a dental nurse in Stevenage before joining the Queen Alexandra Nursing Corps.

She spent her entire working life in the armed forces, travelling around the world, before retiring and returning to the town where she was born.

She said: “I still look back fondly on those days because it was such a great time. We were all so young and there was something so special about that time.

“As a child you feel so happy when the musicians you hear on the radio every day come to your town and play your favourite songs.”

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