A much-loved circuit singer, who was a regular fixture in the pubs and clubs of Southend, has died after a horror fall at a friend’s house.

Raymond Collins, who went by his stage name Ray Starr, died aged 74.

He passed away two days after being paralysed from the neck down following a horrifying fall down a flight of stairs in his friend’s house in Green Lane, Eastwood, on February 13.

Mr Starr’s close 83-year-old friend Diane Noakes, who knew the singer since he moved to Southend from Northamptonshire 18 years ago, arrived 30 minutes after he died at Royal London Hospital.

She said: “They told me where he was. I phoned my kids up because they’ve grown up with him. The specialist said to me ‘it’s very grim what happened, he’s dying’.

“He was absolutely paralysed from head to toe and she said he can’t breathe on his own. After he died I held his hand and it was warm. We came back home and I didn’t know where to start, he was in good health.

“Everybody knew him in Southend. He’d go anywhere, country pubs or all the bars down by the seafront. He was a very lovable, caring, kind person. He’d do anything for anybody and he had a lot of friends.

“It was a big shock because you don’t expect to lose people that way.”

Mrs Noakes was close to Mr Starr having helped book many of his appearances around Southend as well as going on holiday with him to many destinations, such as Spain.

With his funeral due to take place at 11.40am on March 29 in Southend Crematorium she hopes people will be able to remember the joy he brought to so many in the area - for many, many years.

She added: “He had the most wonderful voice and he was so popular.

“Everybody knew him which was a bit of a nuisance because everywhere you went, he’d get stopped.

“He was that popular in Southend.

“He was out and about all the time, you just couldn’t keep him inside. I got him most bookings because he got in a muddle about that. “There wasn’t a pub or club you went to that didn’t know Ray. My family was his family.”