Joe McElderry set to see story of grandma and aunt on stage in musical Dolly Mixtures

The remaining Dolly Mixtures with member Hilda Joyce's grandson Joe McElderry.
The remaining Dolly Mixtures with member Hilda Joyce's grandson Joe McElderry.

Joe McElderry is used to being the famous one in his family – but now he’s got some competition.

The true story of his grandmother Hilda Joyce and great aunt Margaret Fleck’s charity efforts is set to hit the stage.

New musical The Dolly Mixtures will be at the Customs House, in Mill Dam, South Shields, from August 24 to September 3.

Penned by Tom Kelly and John Miles and directed by Ray Spencer, it tells the story of eight ladies who toured working men’s clubs in the North East throughout the 1970s to raise £100,000 for cancer research.

The charity efforts began when Hilda’s brother and Margaret’s husband, Ken, lost his battle to cancer.

Joe, 25, from South Shields, said: “We’ve heard all the stories and I think it’s great that this musical has been made. My grandma has always told us about it and the Dolly Mixtures would often get up to sing at family parties and events we were having, and my grandma has always given me great advice about performing.

The remaining Dolly Mixtures, from left, Hilda Joyce, Sylvia Nichols, Doris Ashcroft, Margaret Fleck & Betty Dickinson.

The remaining Dolly Mixtures, from left, Hilda Joyce, Sylvia Nichols, Doris Ashcroft, Margaret Fleck & Betty Dickinson.

“What they did is amazing and it’s so great that it’s being recognised as a brilliant story and made into a musical – what an honour for them.

“These ladies worked all day then got on a mini bus to go to a club and do a show, then went home to look after their families, and it was all for charity, they never took a penny out of it.

“The working men’s clubs were very dominated by men then, so to get up there and hold an audience the way they did was incredible.”

The Customs House is a venue that the X Factor champ regularly performs at, with his proud grandma watching from the audience.

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.

He added: “I’ll definitely be going along to see the show. I’m really excited to see how they bring it to the stage.”

Tickets cost £17.50 with a £15 concession. To book, go to www.customshouse.co.uk or call 0191 454 1234.

Joe will be at the venue with his The Northern Light Tour on August 19 and 20 and October 22 and 23.

Tickets cost from £20.

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 money that The Dolly Mixtures raised is equivalent to more than £1million today.

South Shields singing star Joe McElderry says he’s proud of the way his grandma Hilda Joyce, great aunt Margaret Fleck, and their friends turned something so sad into something positive.

Their efforts began with attempting to raise enough to by a pool table or darts board for the hospital, where Hilda’s brother and Margaret’s husband, Ken, was being treated for cancer.

After he sadly passed away, their mission became much greater.

Joe said: “Obviously it was a sad story, my grandma lost her brother and my Aunt Margaret lost her husband, but they turned it into something really positive and did something amazing – it was something for him to be remembered for, but also them.

“It’s amazing that this musical is being made, but the people playing them have a really hard act to follow, especially for my Grandma Hilda because she’s such a huge personality.

“They all are. They’re such wonderful women with such a great spirit who just had this idea to raise money for charity.

“It really is a great story.”