50 Women Over 50

Over 50 with much style and wise counsel

Episode Summary

In this interview The Style Council saxophonist Hilary Seabrooke shares the highs and lows and the lessons of a fifth decade filled with serious health concerns along with her hopes for her future

Episode Notes

Host Sherrilynne Starkie welcomes professional saxophonist and member of Paul Weller’s The Style Council, Hilary Seabrook to episode ten of the 50 Women Over 50 podcast where she shares the highs and lows and lessons of a fifth decade that has been filled with serious health concerns but still has left her filled with hope and feeling optimistic for her future. 

Since touring with one of the UK’s top 80s bands, Hilary’s life has been filled with artistic and creative endeavours and today she’s the host of the popular Harmonious World podcast where each week she interviews world class musicians composers and producers across all genres. She’s also a successful freelance writer working with a range of UK clients. 

Hilary’s fifth decade had a terrible start when at her 50th birthday party she had an accident which left her injured. This was followed by surgeries and a cancer diagnosis and then years of treatment. 

In this interview Hilary explains her recent name change and how, as she approaches her 60th birthday, she’s optimistic and excited for a future filled with potential as she takes on more creative projects. 

About Hilary Seabrook: 

Hilary Seabrook (Robertson) is a professional saxophonist who was part of one of the UK’s top 80s bands, Paul Weller’s The Style Council.  Since that time, she’s pursued her successful music career along with becoming an elementary school teacher and professional writer. She’s now the host of Harmonious World, a popular music industry podcast. 

Resources & Contact Information: 

About the 50 Women Over 50 Podcast: 

Sherrilynne Starkie started this show as a creative project with the goal of interviewing 50 women past their 50th birthday to learn how they see the world, what lessons they’ve learned and what advice they have for us all. She’s been blogging and podcasting for 18+ years as part of a successful marketing and communications career and looks forward to learning from the women she will interview.

Subscribe to 50 Women Over 50 wherever you get your podcasts and please share it with your friends. 


Episode Transcription

What follows is a machine generated transcript. It may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the podcast.

50 Women Over 50 Episode 10

[00:00:00] Sherrilynne: Hello, and welcome to episode 10 of 50 women over 50 a podcast for women whose personal confidence is borne of experience. I'm your host, Sherrilynne Starkie. I'm now 20% towards the goal of interviewing 50 interesting women who are over 50 years of age to learn about their lives and what lessons they have for us all. And today I am welcoming Hilary Seabrook to the show. 

She's a professional saxophonist who was part of Paul Weller's The Style Council in the eighties. Now she's a podcaster and a writer for hire. Her fifth decade had a terrible start. When at her 50th birthday party, she had an accident which left her injured. This was followed by surgeries and a cancer diagnosis, and then years of treatment. 

In this interview, Hilary explains her recent name change and how, as she approaches her 60th birthday, she's optimistic and excited for a future filled with potential as she takes on some new creative projects. 

Let's start talking with a 

[00:01:07] Hilary: chat about your name change. Right? Yeah. That was quite exciting because I suddenly thought, why am I still Hilary Robertson?

Actually, I was Hilary Seabrook for 30 years, well, 29 years. Yes. I then got married and thought, oh well I'll just change my name and become Hilary Robertson. I quite like the sound of it. Got divorced 20 years ago. Yes. And I kept the name Robertson because it made sense for the children for us all to be Robertsons.

Yes. And then it's just hung on really. And I've recently started a new relationship and that's the point at which being Robertson just didn't make any sense. 

[00:01:59] Sherrilynne: I totally hear you on this. I had a very similar situation where I had my previous husband’s. His last name was Richards, again, easy to spell. You don't have to spell that.

When you got a first name like Sherrilynne, it's nice to have an easy to spell last name. And my daughters were both Richards and then, I actually naively suggested to current hubby who I've been married to for 29 years., when we were getting married, I think I said, I think I'm just going to keep the name Richards.

It's the same as the girls and it's easy to spell. And he said, oh, I, I'm okay with that, of course. But you have to explain to my mother why you have a different man's name, 

[00:02:34] Hilary: Yes, exactly. 

[00:02:36] Sherrilynne: And in that instant, I was like, oh God, he's right. I'm not, I'm not going to do that. I did decide to change my name to his.

And so, I've been Sherrilynne Starkie ever since. But, yeah., why did you wait the 20 

[00:02:48] Hilary: years? I don't know. I think it was, first of all, it was because of the children. And then once they left school, gone to university and that sort of thing, and it, and it really didn't matter much. I just couldn't be bothered to change and there was no reason to change.

Right, right. Okay. And then, actually another reason why I wanted to go back to my maiden name was that my father died in March, and it was one of my moments of sadness that I wasn't a Seabrook like him and like my mother and my brother. That's sort of been festering in my brain a little. And then when I started this new relationship, I just thought, actually it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

The one person that I was bothered about telling was my ex-husband because my, I knew my children would be okay with it, right? And I thought, out of courtesy, I will just speak to him, right? And I sent him a message saying hi. Just to let you know, I've decided I'm going to go back to Seabrook. It's no reflection on you, it's just what feels right at the moment.

And his response was, well, you've always been Hilary Seabrook to me. Oh, that's nice, 

[00:04:02] Sherrilynne: isn't it? It's nice that you are able to maintain positive relations after a divorce. Yeah. Not all of us have been able to do 

[00:04:11] Hilary: that. No, and I do appreciate. He's not the man I want to marry, but he's not that bad, you know?


[00:04:23] Sherrilynne: Tell me about your 50th birthday. What did you do? 

[00:04:26] Hilary: Oh, my 50th birthday was a, it was a lovely birthday, I, during the day, I met a friend for lunch. I did some shopping and, and among the shopping that I did was in the January sales, 

I bought this amazing pair of beautiful shoes. With a very high heel and I thought they'll be perfect for my party tonight. Went home, got changed, put these shoes on, went to the local pub that I'd already arranged to have my party at my 50th birthday parties, and I went in, and everyone said, wow, you look amazing.

The shoes are great. You know, I just had a, the best party. It was just an amazing party. And then just as people were starting to leave, I came around the corner. And I'm convinced I wasn't that drunk, I don't think the drink made me fall over but it certainly made me fall less, less elegantly.

Right, right. And I smashed my shoulder. Oh my God. Yeah. And, and also had a, had a huge egg on the side of my forehead where I'd literally gone sideways and hit the. Oh, my goodness. And yes, it was very bad. I, it was a very serious break of my shoulder, which then eventually when the shoulder healed, when the bone healed, I then got, what's it called?

I then got frozen shoulder. Oh no. In that shoulder, in my left shoulder, which spreads to my right, which apparently it does sometimes. Eventually a year or so later, I had to have both arms. Operated on. 

[00:06:16] Sherrilynne: Oh, my goodness. Welcome 

[00:06:17] Hilary: to middle age. I absolutely, it was, and, and actually partly because I was then on stupid painkillers and all sorts of things.

I stopped drinking, but it was also partly because I felt like, well, I've done it. I've, I've celebrated my 50th birthday in style with falling and smashing my shoulder, it doesn't get any better than that. I'm just not going to drink anymore. I haven't had a drink in 10 years. Oh, okay. Yeah. The good, not at all.

I don't, I really don't miss it at all. Okay. No, but the good thing that came out of all of this was that I had to have all sorts of scans when I broke my shoulder. I can't remember why. I think they were worried that I'd broken a, a rib as well. Anyway, I had all these scans done. A couple of months later I was feeling very sick and just wasn't right.

Went to my GP and having been obviously to my GP backwards and forwards because of the arm and everything else. And he said, oh, I'm just going to send you for a scan of your stomach just to see if there's anything wrong. And they found a lump on the outside of my stomach, inside me, but on the outside of the stomach hanging down.

By comparing it to the scan that I'd had in January, they were able to see that it had grown, and they were able to measure how much it had grown. And they realized this was something serious, whereas otherwise, I think they might have just left it. Oh my. It was a good thing that I'd had that scan done in January because otherwise they wouldn't have been able to compare it and seen.

What was wrong, and it actually ended up being cancer. And I had it operated on and then had it operated on again three years later. My fifties have not been fantastic. My goodness. And how are you now? I'm, I'm great now. I'm really, really good. I had four years of really being quite unwell, but I've had more than five.

Actually, being alright, so, okay. Yeah, I head into my sixties, really fit and healthy, you know. And did 

[00:08:33] Sherrilynne: these shoulder injuries impact your ability to play music? 

[00:08:39] Hilary: Yes. I didn't play for, well, the best part of six or seven years, and then of course it was lockdown. Although I could play, there was no one to play for.

It has been difficult, but I've been lucky because my, my other, the other string to my bow is writing. I was able to do that at the same time, I've, I've been very lucky. Really. You 

[00:09:07] Sherrilynne: still had the creative outlook, but Yeah, I think, I think you must have really missed making music, right. 

[00:09:15] Hilary: Incredibly.

Yeah. I just, I, there's something about when you have something wrong with your stomach, especially something, I mean, it was, this was, it was serious for three years. The, you don't have any energy, you don't have any ability to perform, to stay out late, to do any of those things. I just couldn't do it.

It's only really now coming back after that and then lockdown. Yeah. My goodness. 

[00:09:43] Sherrilynne: And are you playing again now? 

[00:09:45] Hilary: I am. I'm playing in a couple of bands around and about just sort of just to practice really. But then I've got this really exciting musical project that I'm, we've started a little bit of, but we're really going to start properly in January, which is, with an old friend of mine who.

I need to explain really, because I played sax with Paul Weller in the Style Council. Yes. In the early eighties, and while I was playing. With the band. There was a musician called Barbara, who was a good friend of mine and we played together, and it was lovely. And then when we left a new sax player and Trumpeter came in and Billy was the sax player and the trumpeter was a guy called Stuart who I got on really well with, but I didn't know him at that time.

We've only met subsequently completely by chance literally bumped into each other and just started talking and we thought, well, let's do something together. We've got this jazz thing starting. We're not really sure where it's going, but it's going to be, I think it's going to be quite exciting.

We've done two demos so far, two demo tracks, and I really like what we are doing, it's exciting. That 

[00:11:05] Sherrilynne: is exciting. That is exciting. Yeah. You're, enter your fifties really on a, a note of optimism and, and full of, hope for a fun future 

[00:11:17] Hilary: Yeah. I'm entering my sixties full of excitement and my fifties have been a real, how do I put it?

They've been, there's been a sense of. Me becoming me. Through all of the illness that I had and the, the changes in my life, I have become me, which I think is marked by at 59, changing my name back to my maiden name. Yes. Yes, I'm, my sixties are going to be great. I've decided. Fantastic. 

[00:11:50] Sherrilynne: What advice would you give your 30 year old self 

[00:11:54] Hilary: live more?

Enjoy what you're doing. I think, don't sweat the small stuff that it's a cliche, but it's a cliche for a reason, which is that actually just let some things go. Were you with the Style 

[00:12:13] Sherrilynne: Council when 

[00:12:14] Hilary: you were 30? No, that was when I was 20 and 21.. Yeah. 

[00:12:21] Sherrilynne: I feel like, Paul Weller and the Style Council have had a personal impact on me delaying my marriage to my current husband for a number of years because being music fan especially, in my younger years and especially of, kind of the new wave and the British invasion type music and And what I knew of England was what I saw in music videos.

So, Style Counsel, The Jam, Sex Pistols. What I saw did not excite me. It looked, looked like there was never any sun. It was raining all the time. It was super, Urban and people weren't very happy or having fun. And so, the first time he asked me to marry him, I was like, I'm not going to live in England, no

Oh. And so, we eventually did get around to it. He did talk me into it, and I moved over there in 1993. But I think the first time he asked me to marry him was like 1988, I think. Maybe, maybe 89. And, no, I really like, I was surprised when I moved to England and it was, you know, not Misty all the time.

[00:13:28] Hilary: no, we, we have sunshine. We, the sun does shine here sometimes. Yeah. Yeah. But all 

[00:13:34] Sherrilynne: those videos of the era, it was all kind of doom and gloom, and, 

[00:13:39] Hilary: yeah. Yeah. 

[00:13:40] Sherrilynne: I feel like, Paul's opened it up since then too. A lot more kind of optimistic view of the, of his country. Yeah. From those days for sure.

, you're doing some music right now for fun, but I know that you're also podcasting. Tell me a little bit about the podcast. 

[00:13:58] Hilary: So, Harmonious World, it's called, it's a podcast where I interview musicians and them. From any genre. When I started, I thought, well, I used to love classical well, I still love classical music, but I used to study it and I love jazz, let's interview people whether they're classical or jazz.

And I've found since then that actually I'm just interviewing musicians no matter what genre they are and it's been amazing. I have, I started in May of. 2020 with the intention of just getting people to explain what it is that makes them tick and makes their music what it is. And obviously when we started, I was asking people a lot about what they were doing through lockdown and how their lives have changed.

And what I'm finding now is there's a huge optimism about the business and, and the music that people are making. There are so many great musicians making great music. It's just extraordinary. the reason it's called Harmonious World actually is quite interesting because. I heard a quote from Quincy Jones who I, and I love everything Quincy Jones has ever done.

And he said, imagine what a harmonious world it would be if everyone shared a little of what they're good at. I thought, that's perfect. I'm going to call my podcast Harmonious World. And that's how I frame it when I'm talking to people. It's just what, what can you bring to the world that makes this a little better?

That's it. And 

[00:15:48] Sherrilynne: how many, musicians have you interviewed so far? 

[00:15:51] Hilary: Well, I'm on episode 132 now, but some of them have been duplicates. I've got four or five people who are, who I've interviewed a couple of times because they've had new albums out, they've done different things and, And how did you get 

[00:16:05] Sherrilynne: interested in podcasting

[00:16:07] Hilary: I started about three and a half years ago doing a little radio show on a, a local radio station, just a community station, which sadly is no more, but I suddenly realized that I actually quite enjoy it and I quite enjoy the, the interviewing people like this, like as we are doing now just talking face to face and. I started doing that, as I say, on the radio show, the radio station. And then I thought, actually a podcast gives me a little more control than the radio station did. And it also, it's a bit, you hold your own feet to the fire because I have to find the guests. I, I have PR agencies that, that I work with and that sort of thing, but I have to decide who I'm going to interview and schedule it and all of that.

So, which I really enjoy. So, Yeah, it's good. 

[00:17:07] Sherrilynne: Yes. I really love podcasting too, as you can tell. I feel like there's going to be nothing but growth. For podcasting. Absolutely. I imagine one of the things that you've discovered is how many doors it opens for you, like how many relationships, how many new people that you get to meet and make contact and have like a real relationship with.

Right. That's one of the things I love about 

[00:17:31] Hilary: it. Yeah, for sure. And actually, one of the things that I've found is that I'm now, as we've, as we've moved out of lockdown, Gigs are starting up again. For instance, I'm able to go to gigs and meet the people that I've interviewed online before, and I'm doing some of my podcasts now as live interviews, which has its own challenges, obviously, in terms of sound and that sort of thing.

Yes, yes. So, but it is, it's, it's really nice. It's a great thing.

[00:18:05] Sherrilynne: Let's move on to the quick round then. Yeah. What are you reading, watching, binging? What are you doing these days? 

[00:18:12] Hilary: I'm part of a book club, which means that every month we read a different book., and I can't remember the name of the book we were reading at the moment.

That's the problem actually. When you read so many books, it's hard to keep them in your head. 

[00:18:26] Sherrilynne: Sorry, I was going to say, tell me about the book club. What, what made you decide to join one? 

[00:18:30] Hilary: I just love. I just love reading books and, and to have a different selection of books all the time really works for me.

Actually, one book that I have read recently, which I've really enjoyed is, There's an actor called David Haywood who is, he's a very famous British actor and he's worked in Hollywood and done all sorts of things, but he's suffered from mental health issues and his autobiography is amazing. Okay. I read that and really enjoyed that in particular, 

[00:19:03] Sherrilynne: what role would we know him for?

[00:19:07] Hilary: Do you know what? I can't remember. He's one of those British actors that you just see in lots of different things.

[00:19:15] Sherrilynne: I'll look it up later and I'll put something in the show notes for that. Okay. And are you involved in kind of community volunteering or, or anything charitable like 

[00:19:25] Hilary: that?

Yes. I'm, I'm part of a, an organization called Hitching Creative, and what we do is we act as a central hub for people in hitching who are. The idea being that we share contacts, we share ideas, we share inspiration, we share frustrations about being creative. And the idea is to try and promote Hitchin as a creative place because it is a very creative town.

There's a lot of creative people who live here. 

[00:20:01] Sherrilynne: Well, it's so commutable to London and Yeah. And, I feel like they're, they're making movies and TV shows and stuff in Hitchin now do as using it as backdrop, right? Yes. Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I saw something on Netflix. I was like, just a second. I've shopped in that store.

[00:20:17] Hilary: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Yeah. 

[00:20:20] Sherrilynne: Okay., is there an app that you couldn't live without?

[00:20:22] Hilary: Do you know what? No, I, I'm, I'm one of those people. I love my phone. I'm on my phone all the time. I've got an iPad. I'm on my Mac. I, you know, I love technology and I love all the things that it can give me, but I also love being in the real world. One of, one of the, my favorite parts of the day is walking my dog in the morning without anything, without even looking at my phone for ages.

And just being able to switch off. I like using the tech for what it can do, but I also like switching it off. Well, I 

[00:20:56] Sherrilynne: think that you just answered my next question, which is, what is your life hack? It sounds like it must be turning the phone off. Absolutely. Yeah. 

Is there anything that I haven't asked you that you'd like to share with our listeners?. 

[00:21:08] Hilary: I think as I'm ending my fifties and obviously a lot of your audience are perhaps starting their fifties and a and a bit anxious about it, I'd say embrace it. I'd say my fifties, although I've had cancer twice, I've had my shoulder operations.

I've had all sorts of things that have gone wrong. I've still loved being 50. Okay. 

[00:21:33] Sherrilynne: Do you have any gigs coming up? 

[00:21:36] Hilary: no. Okay. I'm just, I'm waiting for this massive project to start in January and our intention is to start gigging with that probably in the summer. 

[00:21:49] Sherrilynne: All right. And I will have links to all your socials in the show notes so that our, listeners can find you and follow you, 

[00:21:58] Hilary: Thank you very much. 

[00:21:59] Sherrilynne: Episode 10 is a wrap and I'm already one fifth of the way on this project. This has been 50 women over 50 a podcast for women whose personal confidence is born of experience. Thank you to professional musician, Hilary Seabrook for joining me today and sharing so generously the highs and lows, and the learnings of her fifth decade. Her optimism about life as she turned 60 is an inspiration to us all. I've put links in the show notes to Hilary's podcasts and socials, along with links to the books, organizations, and other stuff we discussed on the show. And I'm really excited for the next few interviews I've got lined up and I hope you will join me. 

These include a woman with a successful career in the building trades, a sex therapist, and a woman living with HIV. So don't miss an episode, subscribe to the 50 women over 50 podcasts. Now. And if you have a second, please drop me a rating or review on apple or wherever you get your podcasts. Let's connect and create a whole community of wise women over 50 by sharing a link to the show with your friends and connections. 

See you next time on 50 women over 50. I'm your host, Sherrilynne Starkie.