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Judd Solo

Past Test Rat

Judd Solo joined the Water Rats as Rat No. 605 on 11th November 1963.

Born in Whitechapel during W.W.1, Judd was a colourful character who came from an era when things were done the right way; some would say a gentleman from another time. He was married to Jessie Solo for 40 years and had three children; Penny, Howard and Malcolm and six grandchildren; Jonathan, Alexa, Sarah, Daniel, Alison and Garry. As a youngster, Judd was a keen sportsman. He also had a musical talent from a young age and started his career as a nine year old boy tenor singing in classical concerts and in his synagogue choir. He taught himself to play the violin and guitar and these talents were to be developed later in life.

In September 1939, Judd was due to go to Milan for voice training but war was declared so, like so many men of his generation, he volunteered for military service and within ten days he was indeed on his way to Europe with the BMT Expeditionary Force in France. He was part of the Dunkirk evacuation where he survived being sunk by enemy planes, in the channel, and was pulled out by Allied soldiers thereby avoiding certain death.

This near-death experience gave him renewed vigour to pursue his talents. He entered the showbiz world, firstly as a radio broadcaster and then he formed his own band "The Quartetto Italiano". He went on to achieve nationwide acclaim as one of London's top band leaders, broadcasting nightly from the top of the Hilton Hotel on London's Park Lane. He played for Royalty, celebrities and other distinguished guests for over 20 years at the top of the Hilton, as well as other prestigious venues.

He joined the Grand Order of Water Rats in 1963 (being elected Test Rat in 1969). For many years he took it upon himself to contact all members of the Order who had been missing from the meeting to ensure that they were alright and if any help was needed. He was a very kind and caring person. For many years he was a major fundraiser for the Water Rats and for many Jewish causes.

As well as being a top band leader, Judd also found time to appear in movies and television, with his credits including Hi-de-Hi, 'Allo 'Allo and Eastenders. In 1995 he was awarded the honour of Freeman of the City of London for his services to music and charity work during his life. Judd Solo was a man who led a diverse and interesting life and was strong and courageous until the end.

Alexa Lawrence, (Granddaughter)
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