Entertainment & Arts

Liz Dawn: Coronation Street stars bid farewell at Salford Cathedral funeral

Liz Dawn order of service
Image caption The order of service gave both Dawn's real and professional names

Liz Dawn's Coronation Street co-stars have paid emotional tribute to the actress at her funeral in Salford.

Dawn, who played Vera Duckworth in the ITV soap for more than 30 years, died last week at the age of 77.

Samia Longchambon, who plays Maria Connor, delivered a eulogy alongside Alan Halsall, who plays the role of Tyrone Dobbs.

Dawn was "a wonderful, kind, funny, and considerate person", Longchambon told the congregation at Salford Cathedral.

"On this very sad day for us all, we know you'll understand when we say how much we're going to miss Liz," she said.

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Media captionCorrie star Helen Worth isn't ready to say a final goodbye

"Her infectious laughter, the mischievous sparkle in her eyes, her considerate and warm way with those around her. Always asking after you and your family before thinking of herself.

"We will cherish our memories of working with her and our everlasting friendship. God bless you, Liz, sleep tight. We'll never forget you."

Halsall described her as "a true inspiration" and recalled how she once left fellow cast members in hysterics when she berated Prince Charles on a visit to the set.

"She had no idea how much she was loved or how funny she was and she'd have been totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of love these last couple of weeks," he said.

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Image caption Pivaro (centre) was last seen as Terry Duckworth in 2012

The Coronation Street theme tune was played by the organist as her coffin was brought into the cathedral.

Nigel Pivaro, who played Vera and Jack Duckworth's wayward son Terry, delivered a Bible reading.

And Dawn's real-life son Graham Ibbetson recounted personal memories, including the time when his mother, before she was famous, gave away the £25 prize from a holiday camp talent competition to a children's charity.

Her generosity, he went on, meant that her husband Don had to borrow petrol money for the journey home.

He said: "No matter who met with mum, at any place, at any time, in any circumstances, all of them laughed and walked away smiling. Happier. That was mum's legacy."

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Image caption Sally Dynevor and Michael Le Vell were among the Coronation Street stars present

Graham Ibbetson also recounted the actress's final afternoon, when the family sat with her and held her hand, while he played Frank Sinatra on his phone "hoping she could hear it".

He finished his tribute by adapting the words of Sinatra's My Way to apply to his mother, making it Her Way.

Other cast members at the service included Helen Worth, who plays Gail Rodwell, Sally Dynevor, who plays Sally Metcalfe, and Michael Le Vell, who plays Kevin Webster.

"It was a lovely service," said Worth, holding back tears. "It was quiet, it was calm, it was gentle. People spoke beautifully and so bravely.

"We all loved her. I also know she'll be looking down now and saying, 'eh, that were nice.' It was a good send-off for someone we loved."

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Image caption Ken Morley (l) and Bruce Jones were among others in attendance

Outside "Weatherfield Cathedral" - Ian Youngs, BBC News entertainment reporter

When Coronation Street's famous faces emerged from Salford Cathedral after the funeral, the mood was one of sadness - but they were also comforted by remembering and celebrating the woman who they knew as Liz and we knew as Vera.

Above all, there was huge affection as they spoke. Antony Cotton described the service as the coming together of her "two families" - her real family and her screen family.

The word family was mentioned a lot to describe the atmosphere on the show when she was there - as several co-stars said, she was the matriarch of Corrie.

There was a third family - the family of fans. A few dozen of them had gathered to watch the mourners amid the everyday bustle of Salford, a couple of miles from the Corrie cobbles, outside Weatherfield's local cathedral.

Dynevor said the service had been "incredible" and that Dawn was "the heart of Coronation Street".

"There was always laughter where Liz was, and kindness," she told the BBC. "She was friends with everybody."

Le Vell remembered an occasion when Dawn, a devout Catholic, returned from an audience with Pope John Paul II in 1998 "with all these little angel things to bless us with".

"She was such a selfless person," he went on. "She was like a proper matriarch. It's a massive loss."

Former stars Ken Morley, who played Reg Holdsworth, and Bruce Jones, who played Les Battersby, were among the others there to pay their respects.

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Image caption The Coronation Street theme tune was played as her coffin was brought in

The funeral was conducted by Father Brendan Curley, the former dean of Salford Cathedral and a friend of Dawn and her family, alongside the cathedral's current dean, Father Michael Jones.

Her coffin was transported to the cathedral with a display of pale pink roses spelling the word "Mum".

Dawn played the battleaxe Vera from 1974 until 2008, when an episode featuring Vera's death attracted more than 12 million viewers. She was diagnosed with emphysema in 2004.

She is survived by her husband Don, four children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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