Legacy of Dolly Mixtures lives on as musical raises £4,000 for cancer research

A group of ladies from South Shields, dubbed the Dolly Mixtures, raised �100,000 for cancer research by touring working men's clubs in the North East throughout the 1970s.
A group of ladies from South Shields, dubbed the Dolly Mixtures, raised �100,000 for cancer research by touring working men's clubs in the North East throughout the 1970s.

The legacy of the Dolly Mixtures is living on after a show telling their story raised more than £4,000 for cancer research.

The eponymous musical ran at the Customs House from August 24 until last Saturday and held collections after every performance for Cancer Research UK.

The Dolly Mixtures at the Customs House.

The Dolly Mixtures at the Customs House.

Audiences at the Mill Dam venue, in South Shields, raised £4,110 for the charity after being inspired by the tale of eight amazing South Tyneside women.

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, pals Hilda Joyce, Sylvia Nichols, Doris Ashcroft, Margaret Fleck, Betty Dickinson, Jean Smith, Liz Errington and Joan Jacobson toured working men’s clubs in the North East putting on variety shows that raised a whopping £100,000 to fund research into the disease – that’s worth more than £1million in today’s money.

They were inspired to raise cash after Margaret’s husband and Hilda’s brother, Ken, died from bowel cancer, aged just 34. Out of tragedy, came a wonderful charity effort and a life-long, unbreakable friendship.

Ray Spencer, executive director of the Customs House, who directed the show penned by Tom Kelly and John Miles, said: “We were delighted with the outcome of the show and clearly their legacy lives on with this £4,000 raised by those who came along to these memorable performances.

The Dolly Mixtures at the Customs House.

The Dolly Mixtures at the Customs House.

“Everyone is hopeful that this show will have a life in some form beyond this run, however it’s early days.”

Hilda, 82, who is grandmother of South Shields X Factor champ Joe McElderry, added: “The show and the fact that this money has been raised just brings back the past and shows what a brilliant community we have here.

“I’m not really surprised that so much has been raised because people in the north of England are very generous.”

The remaining Dolly Mixtures were invited onto the stage at the show’s press night and presented with lifetime achievement awards by Cancer Research UK.