Showbiz pals including Tony Christie attend funeral of South Yorkshire musical director Mike Ryal

Mike Ryal
Mike Ryal
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Showbiz pals including singing legend Tony Christie and TV comedy veteran Tommy Cannon joined family and friends at a packed South Yorkshire church to say goodbye to former musical director Mike Ryal.

Yorkshire landscape artist Ashley Jackson also paid his last respects along with celebrated folk star turned artist Granville Danny Clarke, who gave a personal tribute during the service at St Paul's Church in Monk Bretton, Barnsley.

AUDIO: Listen to the emotional funeral tribute to Mike Ryal by Granville Danny Clarke on our embedded YouTube player - or CLICK HERE.

Amarillo star Tony Christie said: "It's a sad day. He was a lovely man and a great professional. We go back a long way."

Mike, aged 72, who was from Cudworth but lived in Darton, worked with a who's who of stage and TV screen stars also including Cannon and Ball, Duggie Brown, The Grumbleweeds, Paul Shane, Bobby Knutt, Billy Pearce and Marti Caine.

He was also a zealous charity worker - a non earning director of showbizcharity.com, which has raised over £200,000.

The fundraiser dedicated the later part of his life highlight the benefits of organ donation after his own life was transformed, following 14 years on dialysis, when he underwent a kidney transplant at Sheffield's Northern General Hospital in 2008.

Mike, who leaves a widow, children and grandchildren, was buried in Monk Bretton cemetery before a celebration of his life was held at Holiday Inn, at Dodworth.

Grand daughter Beth Ryal said: The outpouring of love for my Poppy and support for our family has been overwhelming and much appreciated. Thank you all very much."

Granville Danny Clarke, who spoke of his lifelong friendship with Mike during the service, said: "He was a great musical directer and worked with big names like Tony Christie, Cannon and Ball and Marti Caine - he was my recording manager and bass player and close personal friend from Cudworth youth club days.

Tony Christie with Mike Ryal working together back in the 1970s

Tony Christie with Mike Ryal working together back in the 1970s

"I remember when he was former bass man with Cudworth band Little Midge and the Zephers - I painted their drum sign.

"Mike bravely battled ill health for so long lesser mortals would have crumbled years ago. He asked me to make sure to come to his funeral many years ago...when he thought he was fading, saying 'you be there Clarkie'. I was and the church was packed giving him the send off he deserved."

Close friend and tailor to the stars Neil Crossland, founder of showbbizcharity.com, said: "We will all miss Mike. He was a lovely man and a great professional, so loved, as the turn out showed."

In loving memory of Mike Ryal - funeral service was attended by showbiz pals including Tony Christine, Tommy Cannon, Ashley Jackson and Granville Danny Clarke

In loving memory of Mike Ryal - funeral service was attended by showbiz pals including Tony Christine, Tommy Cannon, Ashley Jackson and Granville Danny Clarke