A SINGING sensation who pulled together a band of women to entertain crowds for 30 years has died aged 86.
Muriel Steel put on shows with the Muriel Steel Singers for three decades at Hartlepool College of Further Education, in Stockton Street.
For one week a year, her troop of performers would put on a caberet act for 200 people a night and raise thousands of pounds for local charities.
Muriel died at the end of February and her funeral took place last week in Blackpool, where Muriel had moved in 1998 after reluctantly ending her link with the show due to family commitments.
Former singers in her group made the cross-country trip from Hartlepool to attend the service, before contacting the Mail to pay tribute to the mum-of-two.
Marjorie Cram, 65, who took over the shows after Muriel moved until disbanding in 2002, said she will always have a place in the hearts of those who knew her.
On behalf of the former performers, she added: “Muriel was a big personality and we want everyone to remember her for what she achieved.
“She put an enormous amount of energy into the shows and ruled us with a rod of iron, but she had to to get the best out of us. She just loved it.
“We all loved her and have great memories of her.”
A group of 12 former singers still meet up regularly to reminisce about their times on stage and visit Blackpool once a year.
Marjorie added: “The yearly visit was to see Muriel, but we will still do it. It’s a great testament to her that we have these feelings and memories.”
Marjorie recalled that Muriel, who lived in the Fens estate in Hartlepool, would sing a solo towards the end of each show.
She said her last performance on stage saw her sing A Lovely Way to Spend an Evening.
Marjorie added: “We all became very close through the performances. We made life-long friends thanks to Muriel.
“I remember the first meeting when we were all expecting to just sing and Muriel came in and said she wanted us moving about and to make it a big, bright show.
“At the time we were all a bit shocked, but she pulled it off and kept it going. They were fantastic times.”