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TRIBUTES have been paid to the last surviving member of a popular Portsmouth band who has died, aged 77.

Stuart Mugridge was a member of The Freemen, formed in 1959 when Mr Mugridge was an apprentice engineer at Portsmouth Dockyard along with his brother Brian and their friend Alf Grainger.

The trio were encouraged by George Turner, manager of the Savoy Ballroom in Southsea, and they turned fully professional in order to feature in a radio series.

It saw them performing in theatres, clubs, on television and led to them releasing several records.

They also worked alongside the likes of Shirley Bassey, Matt Munro and Ronnie Hilton, and even performed in the Royal Variety show in front of Princess Margaret.

Mr Mugridge's daughter Daniella Jordan said: `My dad met my mum in 1963 at the Kings Theatre when he was doing a summer season there.

`Later, he was offered two weeks' work up in Scotland which then turned into five years.

By the time the group broke up in 1969, they were having to book in time to take holidays, which was just unheard of in showbusiness, as most groups would have some downtime.' After the group disbanded, Mr Mugridge returned to Portsmouth, living in the North End and Cosham areas, and went back to his original profession of engineering, though music was always a big part of his life.

He performed at the Co-op Club in Portsmouth, would make musical arrangements with his friend Neil Worley, and would perform alongside his four daughters and Mr Worley at the Music Lovers Club. He used to keep the four of us girls, and more recently our own children, highly entertained with his stories of "the business".

Mr Mugridge is survived by his wife Penny, 65, and daughters Daniella, 46; Gabrielle, 43; Jane, 40; Ruth, 36.

His funeral will be held at Worthing Crematorium at 1pm on Friday.

 Stuart Mugridge: born , June 7, 1933; died October 6, 2010. Freemen recorded for Parlophone Concerning the 1950s youth club at Buckland church in Portsmouth, I mentioned a singing group who originated there.

They were called the Vocaltones but later turned professional as the Four Freemen.

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