Stroke shock for Roly Poly star Marie

Roly Poly founder member Marie Ashton is recovering in hospital after suffering a stroke.

Comedian husband Jack Diamond, who has been at her bedside in Blackpool Victoria Hospital every day, said Marie was "comfortable but still poorly".

"She seems to be out of danger now but it looks like being a long haul," he said today.

The dancer, who helped found the Roly Polys with Mo Moreland 21 years ago, collapsed near her home in Cleveleys last week and was rushed to hospital.

"It was a devastating shock," said Jack. "There hadn't been any warning signs. I even saw the ambulance turn up without knowing it was for Marie."

Now the couple are requesting peace and quiet to allow Marie to rest. "People have been wonderfully supportive but I must ask for them not to visit Marie in hospital – it is just too tiring for her," said Jack. "What she needs most now is lots of rest."

A decision on the immediate future of the Roly Polys has not yet been made, he added.

"The girls have some one nighters lined up during the summer but it is too early for Mo to decide whether someone will be drafted in to replace Marie or whether they will have to cancel their engagements," said Jack.

Formed to perform on Les Dawson's television series the original six members were recruited after Pop Stars style auditions and made their debut as Les Femmes before taking on the Roly Polys title.

The advertisement for hopefuls "excellent lady tap dancers aged between 35 and 50 – size no problem". The group last performed in Blackpool at the Grand Theatre last summer in Comedy Bonanza 2002 with Cannon and Ball and veteran showgroup the Barron Knights.

Marie and Jack married secretly in Florida almost 11 years ago having met several years before when he was compere at the Viking Hotel's Talk of the Coast cabaret room, South Promenade.

Marie, a trained choreographer, was previously married to show producer and performer Ronnie Parnell, whose Trafford-Parnell company staged many summer shows and pantomimes in the resort.