STOURBRIDGE opera buffs have been saddened by the death of internationally acclaimed singer Lyndsie Holland at the age of 79.

Lyndsie, who hailed from Pedmore, died following a fall at a London nursing home in Streatham earlier this month.

She spent seven years as principal contralto with the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company having made her debut for Sadler's Wells Opera two years earlier.

Long-time friend and principal conductor with the D'Oyly Carte, David Harrison-Steadman, said: "Lyndsie sang all over the world but never let success go to her head.

"I spent many happy years working with Lyndsie, she was great fun and had a wonderful sense of humour."

Born Margaret Foster, the youngest of eight children, she took to singing when harmonising with her brothers in the garden shed.

Educated at Stourbridge High School, she worked at British Road Services in Kingswinford and then as a telephonist in Birmingham.

She sang with the Gentlemen Songsters in Stourbridge after taking some preliminary singing lessons before being persuaded to join the Midland Music Makers.

It was while appearing for the Midland Music Makers that she got her big break, being spotted by a talent scout from Sadler's Wells and made her debut for them in September 1968 and was coached by the renowned Linda Vaughan of the Birmingham School of Music.

Lyndsie , who took her stage name from the maiden names of her two grandmothers, auditioned for the D'Oyly Carte as replacement for Christene Palmer and was immediately offered the job.

She went onto enjoy huge success with the company, not least in America, where one Broadway critic hailed her performance of Katisha in the Mikado as the best since the 1930's.

Former Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath was a huge admirer and Lyndsie also appeared at the Royal Command Performance and the Centenary Celebrations at the Savoy.

She later went onto tour withEvita and gave many performances in Gilbert and Sullivan. She also performed a number of concerts at Stourbridge Town Hall.

Mr Harrison-Steadman added: "It was the stuff that dreams are made of, yet she only became a singer by chance. She went with a friend who was taking piano lessons at the Birmingham School of Music and decided to enquire about signing lessons while she was there.

"Lyndsie later became ill and she moved into a nursing home, but she never lost the ability to sing. Her voice remained unimpaired."