Generosity of Bridgnorth's Muriel will be sadly missed
Friends and family have bid a town stalwart and great-grandmother a fond farewell.
No longer will Muriel Ellis be seen out and about Bridgnorth with her beautifully coiffured hair, her favourite elegant purple and pink clothes, or her lovely smile and generous attitude to all around her.
Muriel died, aged 97, at Bower Grange Nursing Home, in Alveley.
Her family and many friends attended her farewell service at St Mary’s Church, Bridgnorth – a service prepared by Muriel herself several years ago. There was music by James Last and Cliff Richard, two of her favourite performers.
Born September 1922, in Hanwood, near Shrewsbury, Muriel was a true Shropshire lass born of her parents Police Constable A J Ridgeway and mother Mary.
Muriel attended Meole Brace School, Shrewsbury, until her father was promoted to Inspector of Police at Ironbridge where she attended Coalbrookdale High.
In 1936, aged 14, Muriel moved to Bridgnorth when her father was promoted to Police Superintendent.
She then attended Bridgnorth Grammar School where she loved sport, especially playing for the school tennis, hockey, cricket and netball teams.
She recalled her fondest memory was winning the Shropshire Junior Tennis Doubles Championship, with her great friend Norma Sandy, in 1939.
To keep this special memory alive, Muriel has donated a silver salver depicting their victory to Bridgnorth Stage Academy, which is presented annually to a deserving young performer.
On leaving school, Muriel worked as a dental receptionist and later, during the war years, at Roots Security where she met her husband John Ellis.
They married in 1943 and had a daughter, Diane, and son, David, who died aged 53.
Muriel always wanted to be a hairdresser and she worked at the Hough and Ridley Salon, now Bailey’s Wine Bar. She spent many happy years there and after its closure in the late 70s carried on hairdressing, assisted for many years by her friend, Jill Lindley. It was not until she was 77 years old her family persuaded her to retire.
Until recently, Muriel would often lunch at Bailey’s Wine Bar and could be seen sitting at her favourite window table with her dear friends Mary Swales, the late Freda Spickernell and Sue Rumble Evans.
In 1961, Muriel and husband John joined Bridgnorth Amateur Operatic Society, now known as Bridgnorth Musical Theatre Company (BMTC), where John became patron’s secretary and front of house manager.
Following John’s death in 1969, also aged just 53, Muriel carried on with his work.
After 50 years and never missing an annual production, Muriel was presented with her gold medal from the National Operatic and Dramatic Association (NODA). In recognition of her continuing dedication to the society she became a vice president, then president of BMTC for a year following in the footsteps of her dear friend Freda Spickernell. Muriel later became honorary president for life.
Muriel is survived by her daughter, Diane, and son-in-law, Allen, six grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.
By Alison Pipe