'Derbyshire's own Lady Gaga' inspires friends' fundraising e-book in her memory

A playwright and an illustrator have joined forces to produce a fundraising book in memory of their friend who was described by her daughter as Derbyshire’s own Lady Gaga.

Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 2:08 pm
Updated Thursday, 22nd July 2021, 2:11 pm

Tim Elgood, whose plays have been performed at Chesterfield’s Pomegranate Theatre and Derby Playhouse, and Thelma Knowlson are raising money for The Royal Derby Hospital through the sale of their e-book.

Proceeds will go to support ward 303 at the hospital where Mary John was cared for while receiving treatment for cancer.

Mary, 71, died earlier this year and at her funeral in March, the song Shallow from the film A Star Is Born was played. Tim said: “When I queried this choice of music with her daughter Charlotte she told me it was a doubly appropriate choice as Mary loved the film and Charlotte had always referred to her Mum as Derbyshire's own Lady Gaga; Mary loved this description as it worked at so many levels.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Tim Elgood, writer of Dead Merry Mary.

Tim lives in Fritchley where Mary was a lifelong resident. He said: “She was a particularly inspiring and extremely mischievous person – she had much to teach us all – not least about her positive response to learning she had cancer.

"To do her philosophy and sense of humour justice we have written the book as if she herself has written it since she passed away. She would have liked that far more than an obituary … she was a very fun-loving and entertaining person and hopefully ‘her’ book reflects that.”

The e-book, entitled Dead Merry Mary, features tales about Mary shooting her Mum, sleeping on Dave Lee Travis’ sofa and unwittingly rubbing shoulders with Princess Anne at a horse show.

Thelma, 74, who lives in Marehay, said: “Mary was the great-great-great-granddaughter of George Bradshaw of Bradshaw's Guide to the Railways. She actually met Michael Portillo and was interviewed by him in Sheffield and it was broadcast on tv. I went with her and watched the filming.

Thelma Knowlson, left, with her friend Mary John in Blackpool.

"Then we were treated to lunch and wine in a lovely French restaurant. Mary was also given money to cover taxi fares back to the railway station. We decided to walk to the station and we spent the taxi fare on coffee, cakes and chocolate!”

Containing strong language, the e-book can be downloaded for a donation of £3, go to https://dbhc.org.uk/product/ebook-dead-merry-mary/

Illustrations by Thelma Knowlson feature in the e-book Dead Merry Mary
Mary John lived in Fritchley all her life.