A TOWN’S music and theatre groups are joining forces to stage a poignant tribute to two performers and mothers who died earlier this year.

Wendy Reed, 38 and Diane Henry, 52, both from Northallerton, died in January. Mrs Reed had been battling eye cancer for five years and Mrs Henry is believed to have died suddenly in her sleep from an undiagnosed heart condition.

The tragic loss has prompted performing arts groups they were involved with, to come together to stage a Music and Laughter event at The Forum in Northallerton on Sunday, July 16 in their memory. It will involve a performance by Wendy's two daughters, Elise, 9, and six-year-old Annie.

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Maureen Willoughby, from Northallerton Amateur Variety Company organised the event.

“Diane played the fairy in our pantomime for the past eight or nine years and Wendy would be our musical director. It left us feeling devastated when we heard the news,” she said.

“We invited all the groups that Diane and Wendy were involved with to take part in this with us and they all came back with enthusiasm.”

Other groups taking part include the Northallerton Musical Theatre Company, the Allerton players, Northallerton Variety Company Concert group’s adult and junior groups and Northallerton Methodist Church Choir. Proceeds will go to the two charities being supported by Wendy and Diane’s families.

Mrs Henry’s husband and son have chosen to support The Friends of the Dales School Hydrotherapy Pool campaign, while Mrs Reed’s family are fundraising for Wendy’s Wish, set up in memory of the mother to raise money for eye cancer research.

Elise and Annie have already helped raised thousands for their mum's charity. They will be taking part in the event with Northallerton Variety’s Junior Concert group, who will be singing songs from the hit West End musical, Matilda.

Their mother took them to see the musical in a trip paid for by Macmillan Cancer Care not long before she died.

Maureen Willoughby said although there might be tears on the night, the event was designed to be uplifting.

“Matilda was the last musical Wendy saw with the girls, but we want this event to bring a lot of happiness. Wendy didn’t want anybody to sit and grieve. She was absolutely incredible in all the instructions she left her family behind.

“Diane and Wendy were both really nice people. I think this will be a lovely way to remember them both and the way both of them were.

“We’re going to have a compere and talk to Wendy’s husband and parents and Diane’s husband and son, who is about 16. It will be sad but also uplifting. It’s called “Music and Laughter” and that’s what it’s designed to be.”

Tickets are £10 now on sale from The Forum in Northallerton, or from Maureen Willoughby on 01609-770936.