FORMER Aquabelle Eileen King (nee Hart) contacted the Echo after she saw the feature and Picture of the Day on the Bournemouth Pier Approach Baths aqua shows printed on August 2.

"I am the girl third from the left in the line-up of Aquabelles who were in the aqua show at Pier Approach Baths in 1969," said Eileen who now lives in New Milton.

"I had already performed in several shows by the time the picture was taken. I was an Aquabelle for about ten years, joining the show in 1962 until 1972 when I moved to South Africa.

"On the last day of the aqua show in 1972 they presented me with an album of photographs, programmes and news cuttings on my time as an Aquabelle. An album full of happy memories and something I will always treasure."

Eileen, a talented swimmer and dancer, performed in her first show, the Billy Russell's Circus Water Spectacular at Great Yarmouth Hippodrome, in 1953 when she was only 15 years old. In the same year when she was living in London she learned to ice skate and auditioned for various shows, appearing in Tom Arnold's Sleeping Beauty on Ice in Brighton and toured northern theatres with Chu Chin Chow on Ice as well as appearing in Humpty Dumpty on Ice and Aladdin on Ice at the Murrayfield Ice Rink.

In the late 1950s she toured the Middle East with an acrobatic ballet company called the Martians Ballet where she met her future husband Dave King.

Soon after joining the aqua show at Bournemouth as an Aquabelle in 1962 she married Dave at St Andrew's Church, Kinson. The wedding caused a bit of a stir as the seven-girl guard of honour at the ceremony, all Aquabelles "suddenly slung off their gay summer dresses and lined up in the swimsuits they wore underneath," reported the Echo.

The vicar of the church Rev Alfred Loughlin was not amused and said they allowed hockey sticks and things like that for guards of honour but bathing costumes was going a bit too far.

In the 1964 Big Splash Aqua Show Eileen was one of the mermaids and the main star was the diving champion Rex Richards with America's top water clown Sid Brooks and Eric Howard completing the trio.

The Aquabelles that year included Sonia Davis, Linda Ellis, Jennifer Cummings, Denise Wake, Carol Carruthers, Sandra Skutchnek, Janet Taplin, Wendy Ann Clark, Pat Hawkins, Liz Jennings, Marlene Fellows, Lyndia Phillips and Zoe Edmonds.

A review in the Echo described the show as 'scintillating, superb and saucily spicy, the best holiday entertainment around'.

The following year the statuesque Australian swimmer Rhonda Parker joined the Aquabelles, and stayed for three years. She then appeared in the popular TV series The Avengers playing the part of the bodyguard and driver to 'M' head of the Secret Service.

Three years later the Aquabelles along with professional divers, including John Crease, Ray Smith and Billy Woods took part in the first aqua show under the manager Leon Markson to tour the country.

Another of Leon Markson's popular aqua shows was Grin and Splash in 1969 where Eileen not only appeared in the water but was also one of the dancers.

The aqua shows also brought romance for some. Young American diver Charles Baker and Susan Meaker, one of the Aquabelles, couldn't attend the Water Wonderland Aqua Show in 1971 as they were getting married at St George's Church, Boscombe.

Another married couple appearing in the show were the diver Bill Maidment and his wife Sonia who was also a member of the Aquabelles.

In 1972 aqua shows pioneer, Leon Markson, the producer and director of the aqua shows in Bournemouth from 1951 - 64 and then from 1965, died and the show for that year was continued by his wife Stella who also presented the show the following year.

Carnival Cascade Aqua Show in 1972 was Eileen's last show. Madge Wheeler led the Aquabelles and had a clever routine with Vikki Powlesland and Helen Scholes.

"The girls also do a marvellous sequence with fluorescent double-coloured triangles, weaving an ever-changing pattern of geometric designs in the water and giving a definite denial to anyone who says there's never anything new in an aqua show," reported the Echo.

Margaret McGuire, Karen Nicholls, Louise Gabriel-Jones, Linda Batterhan, Fay Simpson, Avanda Carter, Christine Salter, Julia Prebble, Linda Edmundson, Susan Digby and Eileen completed the line-up.

Over the years there have been different line-ups of Aquabelles taking part in Bournemouth aqua shows at the Pier Approach Baths, many of the girls coming from the Bournemouth and Poole area, and like Eileen, they will have cherished memories of taking part in something special.