Top act for Tiller Girl Tilly

PUBLISHED: 08:40 09 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:59 22 October 2010

In her prime her high kicks wowed audiences from the London Palladium to the bright lights of Paris.

In her prime her high kicks wowed audiences from the London Palladium to the bright lights of Paris.

But at 73-years-old Tilly Sheridan-Melville, a Tiller Girl in the troupe's 1950s heyday, has left those days behind her.

So when she decided to raise money for East Anglia's Children's Hospices (Each) she found her options limited - eventually she plumped for the drastic measure of a head shave.

"I'm not in the best physical condition with my dickey heart, so running or cycling is out of the question and I swim like a brick," she said.

"With the head shave I can sit down quietly and take it easy. I just had to keep my fingers crossed for the weather so I can show it off properly."

The haircut took place at the Forum in Norwich yesterday in front of a large crowd enjoying the summer sun.

"At least it's warm so my head won't get too cold," said Tilly, who lives on Larkham Lane, Norwich.

She has been involved in fundraising for Each through the Friends Group in Norwich for several years and her latest escapade should raise about £500.

After retiring as a Tiller Girl she had stints in cabaret and singing in clubs before working as a nurse - a career which helped her understand the importance of hospices.

She said: "When I left showbusiness a friend said I wouldn't be able to handle the hard work of a proper job like nursing.

"I decided to prove her wrong. It was hard work but I did it for 25 years and it was very rewarding work."

She still revels in her days on the stage which saw her perform all over the UK and Europe alongside the likes of Bruce Forsyth.

"They were the days when the Tiller Girls were still in their prime and it was a fantastic thing to be involved in," she said.

"There was one particular dance which we all used to dread as it involved a very slow, very high kick. The next morning you could hardly get out of bed."

Each operates three hospices in Quidenham near Diss, Ipswich and Milton in Cambridgeshire. In 2006/7 it will cost £4m to run the hospices, with only 10pc coming from government or statutory sources.

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