A group of inspirational South Tyneside women who raised £100,000 for charity were honoured at a new show that tells their story.
The Dolly Mixtures opened at the Customs House, in South Shields, this week and runs until Saturday, September 3.
It tells the story of eight women who toured the male-dominated social clubs of the North East during the 1970s and 1980s to raise funds for cancer research that are worth more than £1million in today’s money.
The ladies were inspired after Margaret Fleck’s husband and Hilda Joyce’s brother Ken, died from bowel cancer, aged just 34.
Now a musical tells the story of how the ladies – also including Doris Ashcroft, Betty Dickinson, Sylvia Nichols, Jean Smith, Liz Errington and Joan Jacobson – who held down full-time jobs and raised children while taking to the stage every weekend for 15 years.
As the show ended on Thursday night, the surviving Dollies were invited on stage and presented with a lifetime achievement award by Cancer Research UK.
Hilda’s grandson, popstar Joe McElderry also helped out by presenting flowers to the ladies.
Hilda said: “We didn’t have a clue that all that was going to happen so we were gobsmacked. We’re all so happy to receive the award, but that’s not why we did it, we did it because we lost Ken and we didn’t want anyone else to lose someone.”
Joe added: “It was such a lovely moment, and it’s so incredible that their amazing story has been recognised. I feel so proud.”
Ray Spencer, who directed the show, said: “I think we righted a wrong the other night that after 40 years we were able to get these women the national recognition that they deserve.”
Carolyn Reynolds, local fundraising manager for Cancer Research UK in the North East, was there to present the award.
She said: “What the Dolly Mixtures did was amazing, touring the male-dominated clubs while holding down jobs and looking after families. Their story deserves to be told and they deserve to be recognised.”
The Dolly Mixtures runs at the Customs House until Saturday, September 9. Tickets cost from £17.50. To book, go to www.customshouse.co.uk or call 0191 454 1234.