Tributes have been paid following the death of a long-serving and committed member of Wigan Musical Theatre Group.
Hilary Harrison spent 40 years as a member of the organisation, serving as its chairman between 2010 and 2013 and as vice-chair until recently.
The Hindley Green 63-year-old died on January 3 after losing a brave battle against cancer.
Maria Rignall, who succeeded Hilary as WMTG chairman, said: “I first met Hilary when I joined the society in 1981. What was clear then, and remained so over the intervening years, was her love of musical theatre.
“We have all been left shocked and saddened by Hilary’s death. Members past and present have said how friendly and welcoming she was and how sorely missed she will be by us all.”
Hilary grew up in Stockport and was the eldest of the late Edgar and Beatrice Worthington’s four children. It was through her parents that she first developed her passion for musical theatre.
She settled in Wigan following her marriage to her first husband, George Henesey, in 1973. It was in 1977 that she became a member of the Hindley and District Amateur Operatic Society, now known as WMTG.
Hilary had been a mainstay in the women’s chorus of WMTG productions ever since, and last appeared on stage during the group’s production of Hello, Dolly! in April 2016.
Maria said: “She was a really hard-working person and stage performer.
“Despite her failing health, she took part in rehearsals for our musical revue in November 2016 and recently shared in our delight at being nominated for three National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA) regional awards. Her commitment to WMTG remained to the end.”
Her youngest son, Bryan Henesey, 32, said: “Mum had two main passions in her life – her family and musical theatre.
“She loved nothing more than to go to rehearsals on Monday evenings and spend time with her friends, many of whom she had known since she first joined the group. Even during her illness, she took strength from seeing and performing with her friends.
“She’ll be sorely missed by all who knew her.”
Away from the musical theatre scene, Hilary worked as a librarian at Hindley and Ince libraries for many years.
She retired in 2014, with her final job having been as a receptionist at Leigh Family Practice’s Wigan Road Surgery.
Hilary is survived by her second husband Les Harrison, whom she married in 2005; her sons Paul and Bryan Henesey; step-sons Paul and Mike Harrison; three grandchildren and three step-grandchildren.
Details of her funeral will be announced shortly.