FAMILY and friends have paid tribute to a “great lady” who sang with Elgar and worked tirelessly for charity.

Mary Burston, of Malvern, died on Thursday, February 21, at the age of 95 but one of the highlights of her musical career came at the relatively early age of 16, when she was conducted by Sir Edward Elgar during a performance of his Dream of Gerontius with the Hereford Cathedral Choir.

Later in life she joined the Downs School Community Choir, in Colwall, as first soprano, going on to perform at the British Embassy in Berlin and the Albert Hall for the Princess Diana memorial concert led by conductor Sir David Willcocks.

She married her late husband Gerald in 1941 at St Francis Xavier’s Church, Broad Street, Hereford, and is survived by three children; Geraldine Burston, Di Stewart and Suzy Burston.

Geraldine said she and her sisters would remember her “upbeat attitude and wonderful smile”.

She added: “She was a great lady and was so positive and bright right to the end.

“She was full of gratitude and appreciation – a love of life.”

Mrs Burston was also a keen fund-raiser, particularly for Save the Children and the RNLI, as well as founding the Good Will Christmas Fund with her husband to organise food hampers for those in need.

In 1995, she attended Buckingham Palace garden party at the invitation of the Queen in recognition of their charitable work and was also awarded the longterm service medal from the RNLI.

Grandson James Henderson added: “Grandma was a reassuring voice throughout my life. Her wisdom, like her sponge cakes, will be missed.

“Although we can reflect that she fitted so much into her long life, her passing feels shocking nonetheless.”

Friends also paid tribute to her “sparkling smile and twinkle in her eye” and “generous family spirit”, saying she was an inspiration to all.

Members of another of her former choirs, Malvern Festival Choir, will sing at a celebratory requiem mass.

Donations to Save the Children can be sent to Holland Funeral Services, Barnards Green Road, Malvern.