Crystal Stewart

June  10th, 1968 February  23rd, 2024
Prestwich, Manchester, UK
Crystal Stewart

To live in this world, you must be able to do three things:
to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.
Mary Oliver, In Blackwater Woods

Obituary

Crystal Stewart, a cherished daughter, devoted mother, and much-loved member of her Prestwich community, sadly and suddenly passed away on Friday, 23 February 2024, aged 55. Born to Maria and John, Crystal is survived by her daughter Calista, son Elliot, mother, father, aunt, cousins Julie, Michael, and David and relatives in Cyprus.

She was proud of her Greek Cypriot heritage. She had close relationships with Aunts and cousins there, whom she visited on holidays with the children whenever she could, enjoying the Cypriot cuisine and lifestyle.

Crystal was a vibrant soul, extraordinarily creative and expressed this in artwork, poetry, and theatre. Her passion for theatre and creative writing blossomed in Liverpool, where she joined the Everyman Youth Theatre in 1990 after graduating from Liverpool Polytechnic with a degree in Psychology. She was part of community theatre projects at venues including the Everyman Theatre, The Blackie and Unity Theatre and led writing and theatre workshops with women’s and other community groups.

Crystal had a fantastic sense of humour and wrote comedy sketches, which she performed in Blackpool, Wales, and Liverpool, including one where she played the BBC testcard girl, the Virgin Mary, and the co-presenter of a terrorist cookery show!

After leaving Liverpool, Crystal moved to Salford and worked for a national travel company, brilliantly sharing comical stories from the frontline of the complaints team with the excellent group of friends she had made in the city. Just as in Liverpool, where she'd been a mega fan of indie club Macs, she threw herself into the indie clubbing scene. She was always happy wherever there was music and a dance floor.

In the late 90s, Crystal moved back to London, where she'd begun life to reunite with some family and friends. She worked in the advice sector and immersed herself in London's cultural and social life before heading back up north, where her heart always lay, to Manchester to work as an Assistant Theatre Officer at Arts Council England. At this time, she wrote and toured work, including her play ‘Garden of the Heart’ with Boojum Theatre Company and facilitated creative writing programmes.

Friendships held a special place in Crystal's heart. She valued the bonds she shared with her many friends and found immense joy in nurturing these relationships. Crystal's compassionate nature and genuine interest in others endeared her to many, creating lasting connections that brought light and laughter into her and other’s lives. Her passion for the arts was contagious, and she thrived on discussing creative endeavours and exploring art, writing, poetry, ideas, films, and music with her diverse circle of friends.

Crystal's children, Calista and Elliot, were the heart of her world. She loved them dearly, and the enormity of their loss cannot be overstated. She was devoted to them and dedicated herself to making a loving, nourishing and supportive family life for them.

Crystal's untimely departure has left a profound void in the lives of those who knew her. She was a kind and compassionate soul known for her warmth and unwavering acceptance of others. Her infectious energy and playful spirit touched the hearts of everyone she encountered, and her memory will continue to inspire kindness and creativity in all who knew her.  

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June 13, 2024
Crystal and I initially met as my daughter Rachel was in the same class at St. Mary’s, as her son Elliot. We soon moved on from being mums in the playground to being friends.
Crystal was full of life, sociable, quirky, knew so very many people, intelligent, quick-witted, vibrant and kind. One memory I would like to share of Crystal, is when we were attending a Crooked Poetry night at the Crooked Man pub in Prestwich. Crystal had just nipped in to join us for a drink and a chat, but when it transpired that someone hadn’t turned up for their open mic slot, with the host John saying there was a gap, Crystal without any hesitation, whipped up on her phone, a poem she had written previously, and filled the gap for him. It was wonderful to see such confidence, listen to such talent and also see her willingness to just join in with the joy of the event, and this was true of Crystal’s attitude to life, for her to join in, for Crystal to be a great big part of everything that was going on around her. Such vibrancy, sums up Crystal, forever to me. This vibrancy was true for Crystal when she was on the dance floor too! Crystal knew her music, and would dance the night away, barely leaving the dance floor for an entire evening. And I loved that about Crystal too. Goodbye Crystal, you are missed. Love Vanessa Burke x
Vanessa Sasha Burke
April 28, 2024
I only met Crystal a few times but mostly I remember her doing a Podcast with myself 'Spoken Label' last year I seem to recall and she had so much energy and passion with her creative projects. This is a real shock. R.I.P.
Andy N
April 20, 2024
I didn't know you so well Crystal, but I'd like to say I'm glad we shared some time on this earth together. We met at Contact and you were so wonderfully curious and encouraging. That's what I remember the most And you gave my son a chance when you asked him to photograph one of your productions. Thank you for your kindness and your laughter. I was enjoying the collages you were making. We will always leave something unfinished apart from love.
Sonia Hughes
April 18, 2024
Thinking of our happy times together. Remember our time at high school xxx
Christine Clarke
April 10, 2024

I met Crystal in 1986. I was blessed to find myself living on the same landing as her in Eccleston hall, CF Mott Campus, Liverpool. We lived together for three years and both ended up in flats two streets apart, in what is now referred to as The Georgian quarter!
We shared a love of dancing, clubbing and going to gigs.
The Icicle Works, The Real People, The Stairs, Space, Rain…
We saw The Stone Roses before they went global and The La’s before they went off grid! We embraced Liverpool with open arms and both stayed on for several years after graduating.
We shared a similar and often silly sense of humour and desire to explore our creativity. We wrote lots of poetry and trawled secondhand shops. We also loved going to Miss Selfridge and Top Shop!
We went on a march protesting against cuts to benefits and grants and took part in an all night occupation of a Uni building.
We went to Paris on a whim having purchased tickets slightly tipsy on a night out. We even managed to hitch hike to Glasgow and back to visit friends.
We ate lots of pasta and attempted dinner parties! But mostly we danced and we laughed.
We thought we were sophisticated drinking Bacardi and coke, in truth we were still growing up and discovering who we were. Crystal was a brilliant friend and I spent so much time with her that she felt like family. I left Liverpool two years after she did and moved to Bath.
Our lives took different paths and although we were never as close there always seemed to be a thread between us that allowed us to dip in and out of each other’s lives.
Back in the day we used to laugh and say that when we got old we would go to Tea Dances together. I’m truly gutted that we can’t.

Love always Gail x
Gail Medley
April 4, 2024
I met Crystal when our children went to primary school together. I'd lived in Chester till I was a teenager and in Manchester for a few months as a student and this was the first time I'd properly lived in Manchester for family life. The school mums were really friendly and Crystal and I got talking and connected even though our children were in different years.
Her Greek background has a lot of similarities to my Pakistani heritage. The 'Mashallah' play she wrote touched on common cultural norms. (It's a stereotype but I refer to my big fat Greek wedding - like my big fat Pakistani wedding!). In Mashallah, above all the characters were endearing and interesting. Crystal didn't mind when I talked about how I thought the ending could've been different- she loved the conversation!
We always had lovely chats. I remember our art gallery and foodie trips - she introduced me to Bundobust Manchester - she knew I'd love it. And some fascinating people! One of her contacts and I started an interfaith textiles group that is still going.
She was energised by different cultures and religions, I introduced her to pink tea, and would always chat to her about my beliefs. She asked empathetic and thoughtful questions - studied behaviour and was a people person.
She was generous, I was asking her where to buy tamarind sauce and next time she'd bought me some. She totally helped me find my way around. One funny memory of when we'd go shopping is she'd have a bag for life for shopping and she'd call herself the bag lady! I was only in Manchester for 2 years before we moved to the south to be near family. When I left she bought me some amazing art pens, to keep sketching. We stayed connected, sharing our latest creative projects, and family life. We met for dinner recently and had a laugh and great food. Deep Condolences to her family. Her children were lucky to have her as a mum. I was lucky to have her as a friend. Rest in peace Crystal till we meet again <3
Rabia Salim
April 3, 2024
Crystal Stewart was one in a million. I've never met anyone like her before and I very much doubt I will do again. She was sincerely the kindest, most supportive and caring, least judgemental person you could ever hope to meet and the best friend anyone could dream of having.
I met her after we both replied to the same letter on the "Dear Deirdre" page of the Manchester Evening News in 1994. In those days before social media and online dating, people actually wrote letters (by hand!!) and posted them to the local newspaper. One fateful night we were all invited to meet the mysterious 'Karen' in St Anne's Square in Manchester. A good number of us turned up and headed to a nearby bar. That was the last time any of us saw the woman who's letter we'd replied to! A group of about 8 of us kept in contact though and started regular meet-ups. A year or so later, there was a strong core of 6 of us and we went out every Saturday night in Manchester for about 6 years!
We were clubbing / dance-floor friends but so much more. We discovered that we'd both been in Liverpool for much of the same time (Me 1985-93 and Crystal 1986-94). We both loved the same music and went regularly to the same clubs - Macs and Mardi - and we were both at the Everyman at the same time - I worked in the box-office whilst Crystal was in the Youth Theatre. In later years relationships grew more complex but I always knew Crystal would be there for me when it counted.
This should have been the exciting stage of a new chapter in Crystal's life that she was making lots of plans with friends as she established herself in her new home, a beautifully quirky house that everyone agrees was perfect for her. I take some comfort knowing she was finally in the place she wanted to be and was so looking forward to a brighter future for the three of them x
Gaynor Richards
April 3, 2024
I met Crystal in the early 1990s at the MNG (Monday Night Group), a writer’s group that met every week in a smoky, upstairs room on Newton Street, just off Piccadilly. I wasn’t really a very good writer but loved the social... exciting times in your early 20s. The evening always ended in the pub across the road. The Crown and Anchor?
Crystal and myself were the same age and became good friends for a period of a few years.
Dancing was big. Crystal’s love of the dance floor is now legendry of course; The Venue was Crystal’s first choice, and I shared that dancefloor with her! On some nights a gang of us would meet for beers, then she would go one way to The Venue with one crowd, and me the other to The Hacienda or Brickhouse. We didn’t agree on the best dancefloor.
My Gran lived near Strangways and I used to visit Crystal at her flat down the road. As 20-somethings do, we talked about life, love, relationships, theatre and music… exploring the potential of being young and wanting to dance, travel, learn.
We lost touch over the years.
We reached out to each other a couple of times and talked about meeting up. It didn’t happen. I / we, were too caught up with ‘living’ and our ‘grown up’ lives. This is of course now a deep regret. We would have talked about life, love, relationships, cats, theatre, Greek food… and the fragility (and finality) of life. I am so sad and sorry I didn’t get to have that chat. There is a lesson learnt.
It’s been said by many of Crystal’s friends before me; she was a genuinely beautiful person. With so much love, sadness and regret that I didn’t get to see her these last few years. I am only glad that I did know her and that we shared a brief moment in time.
Rowan
April 2, 2024
Crystal Stewart, you were the most powerfully kindest of a most powerfully kind bunch. I’m absolutely heartbroken writing this. Sometimes on here (Facebook), ‘things’ can come at you as the most dramatic of incidents, reading about you today, one of those horribly dramatic ‘things’.
I’m remembering how you, with huge emotional intellect, were able to empower those around/about the youth theatre. I loved being the director of ‘The Everyman Youth Theatre; exactly because of individuals like yourself. I was an incredibly lucky director to have such a talented and caring group of young people to make great theatre with/for. More than that, beyond lucky to have someone of your creative/caring calibre to work alongside with. That’s what you did Crystal, you were never simply a member of the youth theatre you were integral in the whole wonderfully bonkers, sometimes out of all control, mechanics of it. I know we’re never supposed to say this (youth theatre policy after all), but you were one of my very favourite mechanics.
It’s a rare ego-less energy putting itself aside for others because that ego-less energy is what’s exactly needed to make the scene or the improvisation better and you were so completely expert at that. There was an inbuilt holistic wisdom to how you would work with people’s who might not be as confident as others in the group and believe me, when you’re directing a show with sometimes well over eighty eclectically ‘up there’ young Scousers, it’s a wisdom youth theatre directors like myself not only need but feed off. When we were doing ‘House’ for example, I was always quietly thrilled and reassured you were part of the company, because I instinctively (perhaps even selfishly), knew, you just being there, would make the wildly whirl-winding processes of such a massive undertaking, easier for me.
I’m recalling you now with those young people, you as a young person and the remarkable eccentric electricity you all possessed. Just to be ‘the adult’ around all of that howling/jigging/singing zhuzh, was one of the many joys of the job. Y’know Crystal, I’m a li’l bit loathe to call it a job, because of all the fun we had. I’m not saying we changed the world or anything as Positivia glib as that, but we did change each others, mini world builders/shapers if you will. Without any hesitation I can call you one of the greatest and most understanding of those world builders/shapers.
Just been talking to my mate Maria, an old youth theatre member herself and said, there’s something esotericaly parental about being a youth theatre director. Just like a parent, you don’t think you’re gonna outlive any of your youth theatre kids, like a parent, you certainly don’t want too.
I’m sad now but just want to tell all of your friends and family how important you were, not only to me, but to the whole beautiful youth theatre ethos you so profoundly knew and perfectly, passionately furthered. Hey, perhaps you changed the world after all.
So much love Crystal, so much love.
Gerry Pantomime… a trillion X’s,
Gerry Potter/Pantomine
March 23, 2024
I remember Crystal from her Everyman Theatre days and then particularly when she joined the Arts Council. She was a big supporter of what we were doing with Aspire in Wallasey and she gave ACE an invaluable human face which could be difficult to find at times. This is so sad to be writing this at what should have been a brilliant time for her and her family: but she will be remembered with love, appreciation and affection from all those lives she touched. Thank you Crystal for your belief in us all.
Nick Owen
March 23, 2024
I met Crystal during my time at Arts Council England where I job-shared with her for a good while as Assistant Officer for Theatre. She was such a lovely and vibrant soul, caring and empathic and gentle. I'm deeply saddened to learn of her passing, so young still! Much love to all the family! ❤️
Jessica Bockler
March 23, 2024
I met Crystal when her daughter Calista was about 5 months and my son about 4 months. I was desperate to meet other mothers and in she strode to a baby meet-up looking poised and confident whilst I was wreck. Thank you, Crystal, for all those get-togethers in each others houses when our children were small. Crystal was a lovely friend and I cherish those memories. We saw each other less as the children started school but it was always so good to catch up with Crystal when we bumped into each other in Prestwich or she popped into the charity shop where I volunteer. I pass Crystal's old house on Ostrich Lane every morning and remember the fun we had with our children there. Thank you, Crystal. Xxx
Jane Bernhardt
March 22, 2024
I remember very clearly the night I met Crystal. It was Feb 1990, I was 19, studying in Liverpool, and had joined the Everyman Youth Theatre a few weeks earlier. That night, we were put in groups to make an improv comedy sketch. Next thing, I was splitting my sides laughing with someone who’d graduated the summer before – she had the curious name Crystal - as we made a very silly sketch about travelling to the seaside on a bus. A group of us went to the bar afterwards and Crystal and I shared our mutual love of Holsten Pils and Indie music and from that moment on, a wonderful friendship was born.

Crystal and I were massive clubbing fans – it was the time of Madchester - and Macs, Mardi &Temptation were our faves. I've so many memories of us staggering back at 3am in the freezing cold or getting Crystal’s favourite post clubbing snack – chips from the Chinese chippie. We had so much fun, that’s what I remember most. We were young, free and open to anything, and Crystal threw herself into the world of theatre, writing & the arts. Liverpool at that time was just the right place for her to be.

At the time, Crystal was living in the grimmest house ever; it had a massive hole in the floor of a room upstairs, but she didn’t care. Crystal’s imagination and experiences were what fired her, she couldn’t care less about her surroundings or fanciness – labels, status, how much anyone earned. And that endured, it was one of the things that was so beautiful about her; her complete lack of pretension and ego, despite her wonderful artistic talent.

I left Liverpool in 1991 but our friendship grew from there. We’d visit each other in London & Manchester, where she’d moved, and we hung out with all the fab friends she’d made. We went on package holidays to Portugal & Gran Canaria, Crystal hiding from the sun whilst I barbecued myself. We went on a boat trip only to discover Crystal suffered horrendous sea sickness, spending the entire day below deck in the loo, whilst our friend Ged and I were serenaded by The Spice Girls on repeat above.

We had a never to forget millennial New Year in the far south west of Ireland with a bunch of writer, eco-activist and artist friends. It was a wild few days and one of my funniest memories is Crystal innocently having her feet rubbed by a mate who was besotted by her whilst I did a drunken jig for some Irish farmers who’d gate crashed the cottage. We took paints and sketchbooks out to the rain sodden hillsides – Crystal’s talent shining through whilst I just enjoyed the daubing and dabbing.

We spent weekends together visiting the Lake District or Liverpool, and later she’d visit me in North Wales and Devon.We’d walk in the wilds and ruminate on life and all its eccentricities whilst dabbling with our paints. She was an introvert who loved people and the more eccentric the better – meeting the eclectic mix of locals I’d met in north Wales was just her thing.

Like all long, close friendships, there were times in the late noughties when we were less in each other’s lives, but I was so happy to reconnect again when I moved to Wales. She had young children by then and her devotion and love for them shone through.

Lockdown was filled with virtual raves on Zoom with Crystal and friends. The last time I saw Crystal was in June 2021 in London. We spent a beautiful sunny day together diving into some immersive art and eating Wagamamas. I was excited for a visit to Manchester this spring and all the shared futures we had ahead of us.

Meeting up with Crystal always felt like coming home. She brought out the best in me. And she was so kind, sending me surprise gifts in the post like the Oodie she’d found in a charity shop because I loved sofa time.

Crystal had an indescribable special energy. She was simultaneously both completely down to earth with a fantastically cheeky sense of humour and mysterious with hidden, magical depths. Crystal is totally irreplaceable as a friend. I'll miss my beautiful friend always.
Emma McFarland
March 22, 2024
I met Crystal in 1990 when I joined the Everyman Youth Theatre in Liverpool. Crystal was two years older than me and I thought she was very cool and worldly wise. We became close friends very quickly. She lived in a bedsit in a crumbling house off Smithdown Road where there was a hole in the floor! This became my second home and the laughs we had were unparalleled.
Crystal had a great collection of books and music. She was also a poet and a photographer. She could be very mischievous. She convinced some people that she could tell their fortune by using a dictionary. I had never met anyone like her and I still haven't.
Soon I too lived in a crumbling house off Smithdown Road and Crystal lived there too for a bit as her house had been repossessed courtesy of her terrible landlord.
We wrote comedy sketches and performed them. We had lots of stupid adventures and misadventures. We once tried to hitch to Peterborough to stay with our friend Emma McFarland. We got as far as a service station just outside of Liverpool!
Crystal was very funny. She was protective and loyal to her friends. She also wouldn't stand for any sort of nonsense and had an incredible memory for awkward and embarrassing events which she would remind me of when I was being a dick.
Crystal was a fearless and talented comedy actress and a very good mimic (I used to like her James Dean in Giant) but she preferred writing.
We were in and out of each others lives for a decade, laughing, clubbing, drinking a lot, falling out sometimes then making friends again.
We lost touch then reconnected in 2018. We both now had children and a I was struck by what a fantastic mum she was. A lot had changed but she was still the funny, talented, loyal, encouraging and bright star she always was.
She changed my life and was a wonderful friend.
Michael Bendib
March 19, 2024
Crystal and I first met at the baby groups of Prestwich in 2009 as new mums. We were tired and overwhelmed and took comfort in getting together for play dates and park visits, and if we were lucky we’d manage a cuppa and a natter.
Cups of tea were soon replaced with beers/Bacardis, dancing and lots of laughs. We became really good friends.
Crystal was kind, generous and full of fun, not to mention incredibly talented. I am devastated that she is no longer with us and we won’t be growing old together. Instead, I’ll remember all the good times so fondly and with a smile. Love you always my fabulous friend.
Jan Baguley
March 16, 2024
I worked with Chrystal when she joined the Arts Council. I liked her enormously as she was always so cheerful and positive, a real asset in every situation. She was creative and put a lot of energy into her work. I think that rubbed off on the people around her which made her a very special part of our team.
Jane Beardsworth
March 10, 2024
I met Crystal about 20 years ago on a writing weekend. We clicked immediately and stayed close friends ever since. Crystal was a vibrant, warm, supportive and caring friend with a great sense of humour. She was also a very talented playwright, poet and artist. She will be greatly missed by those who knew her and will never be forgotten. I am so grateful and proud to say she was my dear friend. There is definitely a Crystal shaped hole in my heart.
Crystal was most importantly a mother and her children Calista and Elliot were her whole world. She loved them to bits, always wanted the very best for them and was really proud of them.

Helen East
March 9, 2024
Crystal and I became 'fast' friends when we noticed each other hanging out in St. Mary's Park in Prestwich where my son Oisin and Calista and Elliot loved to play. It turned out we had mutual friends Steve and Matt! Much fun ensued.

We'd hook up for coffees and drinks squeezed in around busy family life, knowing that those meetings would add much needed value and nourishment for us both.

Crystal's beauty, and her gentle, melodic voice, calm, kind nature was a pleasure to be around. She was such a good friend to me, and our close friends. She was so considerate of others, even when her own life was full up.

She will be sorely missed from our friendship group, a missing link.

John, her Dad and Maria, her Mum and Crystal's family — please accept my heartfelt sympathy.

Extending my heartfelt sympathy to Calista and Elliot; know that many, many people care about you and wish you strength at this most difficult of times. Your mum was an amazing woman and she lives on through you.
Pauline Minsky
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