Dale Meeks, true gem of stage and screen, died of heart failure on Sunday 23 April 2023; he will be sadly missed.

A North Eastern treasure, he was born in South Shields May 6, 1975, into the talented Meek’s family.

Dale began his very full career in Byker Grove, 1990–1992, also featuring Ant and Dec. Many TV roles followed: Casualty, George Gently, The Dumping Ground and playing Simon Meredith in Emmerdale 2003–2006 to name a few. He won Celebrity Stars in Their Eyes with Mark Charnock as the Blues Brothers and was frontman of the South Tyneside blues act Shake Your Tail Feather.

He toured in the musical Chicago and appeared in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Love Never Dies in the West End. He had a starring role in ITV’s true crime drama The Hunt for Raoul Moat, screened only last week. Apart from his acting talent and great singing voice, he also wrote pantomimes and directed.

Dale was a very unassuming, private person, but one was always at ease in his company; you were very lucky to have had him as a friend or colleague, as many have testified. Local actor Stephen Sullivan spoke of the inspiration he had on his life, saying, "you had a heart as big as your talent and a sense of humour and laugh bigger than both", a sentiment echoed by many. Numerous others like Charlie Richmond, Ian Cunningham and Denise Welsh have expressed their disbelief and sorrow at his passing. As a fellow sand dancer, I am doubly privileged to say he was a friend and, working with him, I played his mother in Miller’s All My Sons .

He has been very ill, largely with undiagnosed conditions, and found it hard to cope. His brother Philip in paying tribute said, "the support of Dale's friends has been so unbelievably strong, I can only stand in awe… I will never get over his death.”

A real gentle gentleman who will be missed more than he would ever know. I will not be the only one raising a glass to you on your birthday, Saturday 6 May, a true king among men. In a tribute on Twitter, Ant and Dec wrote, “he was the loveliest of guys, RIP Dale. Sleep well bonny lad”.