Lancashire

Bernie Nolan funeral takes place at Blackpool Grand Theatre

Media captionBernie Nolan's funeral was at Blackpool Grand Theatre

Large crowds gathered in Blackpool for the funeral of actress and singer Bernie Nolan, who died following a long battle with breast cancer.

The former lead singer of The Nolans was first diagnosed in 2010 but, following treatment, received an all-clear two years later.

However, the disease returned and in May she stopped chemotherapy and entered palliative care.

Paying tribute, entertainer Roy Walker said she was "one in a million".

"Everybody loved her, [she was a] great friend, great artist," he said.

The funeral service took place at Blackpool's Grand Theatre and the family had invited mourners to gather in the streets outside.

Image caption Bernie Nolan was also known for acting in The Bill

Stage door

The service for family and friends, which took place in the theatre auditorium, was relayed outside by a public broadcast system.

Among the guests were EastEnders star Shane Richie, singer Joe Longthorne and comic duo Cannon and Ball.

Well-wishers heard her sister Maureen read from a letter Bernie had written for the ceremony and her daughter, Erin, also gave a reading before the coffin left the building by the stage door.

The funeral was followed by a private ceremony at Carleton Crematorium.

Born in Dublin in 1960, Bernie Nolan moved to Blackpool with her family and performed as a singing troupe with her five sisters and two brothers around the town.

In the mid-1970s, the five sisters began performing as The Singing Nolans - later The Nolans - and went on to achieve global musical success, including supporting Frank Sinatra.

Image caption Bernie Nolan's family invited mourners to gather in the streets around the theatre

She married Steve Doneathy in 1996 and leaves one daughter.

In recent years, she was best known for her acting roles in The Bill and Channel 4 soap Brookside.

On stage, she performed in Blood Brothers, Flashdance The Musical and the UK tour of Chicago The Musical in 2012 as well as a touring production of Calendar Girls.

After first being diagnosed with breast cancer she had chemotherapy and a mastectomy, receiving an all-clear two years later.

However, months later the disease returned and spread to her brain, bones, lungs and liver.

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