HEART-WARMING tributes have been pouring in for Sunderland blues singer Maggie Ross.
Despite being told in June she had just months to live, Maggie continued to perform and dedicated the time she had left to raising cash for charity.
She even recorded a song written for her by Brian Parish, Hope You Have Enjoyed the Show, as a special musical farewell to family, friends and fans.
Just two weeks ago, the Washington singer held a party to raise money to the Charlie Bear for Cancer Care charity.
Sadly, on Sunday, Maggie, 63, lost her battle with lung and brain cancer and died at Sunderland Royal Hospital with her husband, John, 66, and daughter, Melanie, 43, at her bedside.
Lorraine Crosby, who was a vocalist on Meat Loaf’s 1993 hit I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That), paid an emotional tribute to her close friend of 34 years.
She said: “Maggie was a lovely woman who was an inspiration in all that she has achieved in life. She was a very strong-willed lady who inspired many. She was one of the nicest, kindest people you would ever meet.
“I am heartbroken at her death and she has left a huge hole in my life.”
Others left tributes on the social networking site, Twitter, with @newarkblues saying: “Maggie’s attitude and determination should be an inspiration to us all. Our thoughts are with Maggie’s family, friends and bandmates.”
“RIP Maggie Ross a big loss to the Blues world,” said @revdjwaller. @Timeless_Inter said: “RIP Maggie Ross. A local pro singer who could wipe the floor with most so called ‘superstars’. Our thoughts are with John, family and friends.”
Maggie had a lengthy musical career including fronting her own blues group, The Maggie Ross Band, and also inspired the younger generation by spending time at a music lecturer.
In 1981, Maggie recorded Come On In, written by local composer Mike Bersin and sales of the single helped the Charlie Bear for Cancer Care appeal break its ambitious £1million target to provide much-needed equipment to Newcastle General Hospital.
When she was told her condition was terminal, Maggie selflessly decided to help raise vital funds for the charity as it aims to buy the region’s first cyber surgery machine.
Maggie’s funeral will take place on Wednesday at 2pm at St Mary Magdalene Church, in Seaham, followed at 3pm at Sunderland Crematorium.
Her family has asked that instead of flowers donations are made to the Charlie Bear Cyber Surgery appeal.
The original Charlie Bear campaign was launched by Daisy Clark in 1978.
Daisy, who was suffering from cancer, and a team of volunteers, made and sold thousands of teddy bears named after her late husband Charles.
The campaign reached its target in 1982, with thousands of people since benefiting from the CT scanner it bought for Newcastle General Hospital.
Although Daisy has since died, the charity, based at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, continues to raise money.
The current project is to raise £3million for the region’s first cyber surgery machine, which will deliver high doses of radiation to small tumours.
To donate to the charity visit www.justgiving.com/charliebear or text BEAR78 followed by the amount you want to give to 70070 or call 2138615.