In the days before social media, you would only get to know someone from either meeting them in person or hearing what others said about them – which would often be completely inaccurate. Until the early 2000s, when I first met Emma Cox, the only impression I had of her was that she was a busy DJ, part of a duo who were like the scooter scene’s version of Ant and Dec; guaranteed crowd-pleasers who usually came as a pair. Her ‘Ant’ was an Ant in real life, although to the rest of us he was known as Tony Class, the late (and extremely great) legend of the scooter music scene.
But Emma has been a leading entertainer in her own right for more than a quarter of a century. She’s no sidekick, but a standalone ‘performer’, as was proved the first time I finally saw her in the flesh. It was in the early 2000s at a Camber Sands Rally and there had been a power cut in the main room during her set. Rather than panicking, or fleeing the stage (which I would have done in her position!) she stood in front of the crowd and started a singsong. She sang the first lines of ‘Long After Tonight Is All Over’, the Jimmy Radcliffe classic, and then the whole crowd joined in. It was amazing and a great introduction to the sheer entertainment value of this scootering icon.
Fast forward nearly 20 years and at the recent Hayling Island scooter rally (which you can read about here) I had the pleasure of Emma’s company for a couple of hours, which I recorded on my phone for this interview. It would make a hilarious podcast – something akin to an episode of Loose Women – and I will try and find the time to edit out the scandalous parts and put it out there one day. We nattered away and I really found out what makes Emma tick, how she started on the scooter scene, and what incredible adventures she has planned this year. Settle down with a cup of tea and I’ll tell you a story…
Emma Cox, the early years
Once upon a time, in the early 1980s, there was a teenage mod called Emma. Emma was the only female mod at her school, and hung around with the ace face boys like she was one of the lads, but this made all the nasty girls hate her and they bullied her relentlessly because Emma got on with the guys who they all fancied. She was subjected to some horrific treatment, which I’m sure would have been toned down for Grange Hill as a storyline, but I suppose what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Emma has since been vehemently anti-bullying via her Facebook profile and had to take a stand when history repeated itself with her son, some twenty years later. She is a shining example of how, when she saw the chief bully in her hometown recently, was able to hold her head high and look her straight in the eye, knowing that karma had done its thing and she was in a much better place than the cowardly girl who had tormented her youth and has done nothing with her life.
It was inevitable that Emma would become a cornerstone of the scooter scene. Her first scooter was a Vespa 90 which she bought a few weeks before her 16th birthday, a barn find which cost £50. She enlisted her brother to collect it from Minehead in his Austin Maxi, and it was squeezed into the back of the car on the way home when they had a blowout on a country road in the middle of nowhere. The car bounced up on two wheels with Emma being pummeled in the back by various pointy bits of the scooter, and being seriously injured as a result.
The car was undriveable, so her brother got the scooter out and jumped on it – having never ridden one before! He didn’t know about reserve so it conked out after half a mile so he dumped it in a hedge and ran home for help. Emma’s mum came to collect her and once they got home they tried to get an ambulance but it refused to come out so they eventually got a doctor out who diagnosed kidney damage. She’d also been stabbed in the back and wrist from bits of scooter trim, causing nasty wounds which required treatment. News spread about this incident around Holsworthy and the subsqeuent chinese whispers declared that she’d been riding the scooter, had a head-on collision with a Land Rover and was dead! Don’t you just love small-town gossip?
The drama didn’t stop there either. Once recovered from the crash, on her 16th birthday Emma rode the scooter for the very first time. She had no clue about how to ride it, including how to brake, use the clutch or follow any road signs. She headed off to see some mates who had a drive at the side of their house with a gate which was always open. Except on this occasion… Emma came flying around the corner and went smack bang into the five bar gate! Emma was in a crumpled heap, the scooter had a bashed-in mudguard and it was certainly a birthday to remember.
Emma started going to rallies around 84/85, riding to the likes of Weston, Exmouth and the Isle of Wight. By now she was helping out Tony and Gill Class at their events – although not DJing yet. She was invaluable, helping with the ticket sales, security, cloakroom staff, accommodation, scooter competitions and being a general dogsbody. Then there was the most important job; getting Tony “I’ll be there in a minute” Class to the venue on time, as he was always running late!
The catalyst for Emma’s first solo DJ gig was Live Aid. Tony Class had organised Mod Aid to raise funds so Emma decided to organise her own version in Holsworthy. She drew the flyers by hand, used the photocopier at work to print a stack off, went through the yellow pages and delivered them to any business or group who may have been interested. It was a 250 capacity venue so an ambitious first do, but she got the word out to the mod and scooter communities too, which wasn’t easy in the days before Facebook.
The local DJ kindly lent her some equipment, showed her the ropes, and she persuaded some others to do a set including Rob Cox who would become Emma’s husband. A huge man mountain of a local mate who bore a striking resemblance to Jaws from James Bond offered to do the security. Suddenly it took off and scooterists from far and wide started calling up for tickets. On the day the town was buzzing with scooters, and it was a sellout! Such an amazing achievement for an 18 year old and it was a big two fingers up to the locals who lent no support whatsoever and ended up being turned away as the do was full.
Emma married Rob at 19, and had her son at 21 – who was nearly born at an all-nighter in Blackpool! It’s another example of a story that you just couldn’t make up. I’d asked Em whether she’d had a break when she’d had Mathew and the answer was, unsurprisingly, no. At 9 months and 1 week pregnant she was DJing up North and was on the way home in a minibus full of blokes when she felt contractions coming on. She didn’t want them to be fussing around like old women so kept this news to herself, willing the baby to hang on until they were down South. As a true Cornish lass she wanted her firstborn to be of similar stock.
As it turned out, after arriving home and having a bath to ease the pain, the contractions suddenly stopped and Mat wasn’t born for another week! She’s a naughty girl and was determined on her next hospital visit that she wasn’t going home without a baby, so she got off the bus one stop early, ran to the maternity ward to make her blood pressure go through the roof and they dutifully induced her on the spot! I do love a determined woman…
Emma worked throughout early motherhood and Mathew did his first rally at 2 weeks. He was tucked away in a back room which was turned into a nursery for the weekend enabling her to keep on keeping on, so to speak. Her mum was super supportive too so would step in for the long distance rallies and look after Mathew, giving Emma a chance to let her hair down occasionally.
Emma cut her teeth on the rallies in the early evening slot at LCGB events, being Tony’s warm-up girl playing mainly Motown. She also played lunchtime dos which were a favourite of mine – you had three hours of music during the 12-3pm period when drinking was allowed (before the licensing laws were relaxed and all-day drinking introduced) and often some extra entertainment was thrown in. We both rolled our eyes at the wet t-shirt competitions which were a mainstay of 80s rallies, but Emma also recalled the onion-eating competitions which were the brainchild of Tony Class!
Emma has travelled far and wide for her gigs. She DJ’d at a few of our Detours dos in Bognor in the early 2000s, which is quite a way just for one night. But she’s gone much further, including to Scotland. Friends Lee and Helen from Exit 17 asked her to DJ at their wedding there, with the deciding factor being that it was held in a pink castle! She was sold! Who could resist that? It meant over ten hours of driving to lug her equipment there, but it was through the most beautiful countryside and the wedding was fantasic, a proper scooterist do. She broke a tooth on a fortune cookie, adding to the drama, and luckily Nita Derrick kept her company on the way back!
She’s also a proper international DJ having played in Ireland, Spain, France and Vegas (baby) twice! I was there the first time and remember her being SO nervous of flying long haul for the first time, but it was an unmissable experience.
Emma has been a member of the Modrapheniacs SC for well over 20 years, and her proudest moment in the club was when she was presented with the Jo Loving Shield. When her beloved Nan passed away, her funeral was on the Thursday and Emma was at the rally on the Friday, which was probably the best place to be as she was surrounded by love and support. It was the first time she has ever been speechless on stage – and the last! There wasn’t a dry eye in the house…
Emma Cox, NLP Practitioner
Emma’s mantra is ‘don’t just say, do’ and she applied this two years ago when she started her NLP (neuro linguistic programming) therapy training…. The story starts with a very good friend, Kevin Fagan, who had an aggresive throat cancer. The Trogladytes Scooter Club pulled together with Kev’s girlfriend to help him move into his own flat from a house share which hadn’t been ideal from an infection control point of view. With Emma’s help they scrubbed it, decorated and furnished it and the story had a happy ending as he recovered back to full health.
To thank her, he started her off by teaching her all he knew about NLP because he could see that people opened up to Emma on rallies and she was an absolute natural at helping them out. She just had to learn the formal techniques and some very long words which you need to pass the exams.
NLP is simplifying things, using the right language, and can be used for everyday life, for example getting your child to do their homework. In fact, shhh, I’m scared he’ll read this, but it’s just worked a blinder for my son who is literally doing it as we speak. Hint : I gave him the choice of doing it now or in an hour, but doing it in an hour would mean he wouldn’t get time on the xBox later on. (Emma didn’t exactly mention the xBox part, but I’m freestyling and it worked!)
The great thing about NLP is that it teaches you how to process your feelings. It also helps with physical issues too, and Emma has already cured a lady who suffered with eczema and helped Shelley Evett get a good night’s kip after being on sleeping tablets for 20 years. She unlocks the subconscious with hypnotherapy, and has had fantastic success with all sorts of issues, both mental and physical.
She has set up her practice in a renovated room above a hairdresser and currently works two days a week there (rallies permitting), juggling it with her other job working for her brother. Emma has applied NLP to her own life and is a different person now, in such a positive way. People have walked into her room completely broken and walked out feeling on top of the world. I can understand why, because although I was fine when I went in for our chat, I walked out feeling like a million dollars. I can’t put my finger on what it is but she is truly inspiring. If only I could bottle it!
Over the last few years Emma has raised an astonishing amount of money for cancer charities. It all started when she had a tattoo, which for many may not be a big deal but as Emma had a needle phobia it was a massive challenge. It is also to support the many needles that cancer patients have to endure as part of their treatment. Little Flo, the fairy, raised over £2,500.
Next it was the head shave. This may not be the end of the world for someone with short hair, but the gamechanger for me was that Emma committed to grow hers for 18 months beforehand. I would actually prefer to shave my head than grow my hair as the in-between styles can be horrific. Before the big shave, her hair was plaited and then cut, and donated to make wigs for cancer patients. Three very close friends cut the plaits, all of whom had fought this horrible disease. This challenge raised over £6,500.
These individual efforts, coupled with three fundraising weekends for CIAC (Cancer is a C***, founded by Jan) spread over the past three years, have raised a grand total of £75,000 which is an amazing achievement.
This year, Emma is jumping out of a plane (for charity, of course) so has conquered her fears of flying and taken it to the next level. She has been hypnotised, not just to remove the fear but to actually make her look forward to it, and she couldn’t be more excited. This all happened thanks to Shelley Evett who roped Emma in to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society, in order to overcome her own fears. There are a group of scootergirls, including Mel Carey and Sam Young, doing it on 5th August near Honiton in Devon at a tiny airfield.
Emma was determined to cure Shelley’s phobia of flying and, as this Facebook post shows, has used her NLP skills to achieve that for her.
The JustGiving page is here or click the image below to donate; at the time of writing she has raised over £600. Each of the girls has their own page too so between them they will accumulate a tidy sum for the charity.
If you’d like to find out more about how Emma’s NLP techniques could help you, then give her a call on 07471 129387 or email email@example.com.
All-round good egg
So, back to Emma’s accapella rendition of a soul anthem when the power failed… She was taught by Mr Class that you must always fill the gap, no matter what goes wrong you can’t leave a silence, so if you put a single on at the wrong speed or play the wrong side of the record then pick up the mic and entertain the masses. She did the same at Meltdown too, which I would love to have witnessed!
It proves that she’s the most down to earth, self-deprecating person you will ever meet – happy to take the mickey out of herself and with no airs and graces whatsoever. And that’s what endears her to scooterists up and down the country and will make her new venture a massive success. Good luck Emma, not that you need it!
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