Gerry Marsden: Funeral held for Pacemakers star

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image captionGerry Marsden on a Mersey ferry in 2009

The funeral of Gerry and the Pacemakers singer Gerry Marsden has been held at a church near his beloved River Mersey.

Marsden died, aged 78, in hospital on 3 January following a blood infection.

As the frontman in the band Gerry and the Pacemakers, his hits included Ferry Cross The Mersey and a cover version of You'll Never Walk Alone.

Ex-Liverpool boss Sir Kenny Dalglish was among the mourners at the funeral which had to remain small because of Covid restrictions.

Sir Kenny managed the club at the time of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which led to the deaths of 96 fans who were attending an FA Cup game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

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image captionGerry Marsden sings You'll Never Walk Alone before an Anfield match in 2010

Sir Kenny said: "You'll Never Walk Alone has huge meaning to the lives of Liverpool supporters around the world and is synonymous with the club.

"He will be sadly missed by those who knew him and the millions he never got to meet."

You'll Never Walk Alone became a football terrace anthem for Marsden's hometown club soon after it topped the charts in 1963.

The song was played during the funeral by a guitarist while a version of Marsden singing Don't Let The Sun Catch You Crying, a song he wrote for his wife Pauline, also featured.

She said: "We, his family, are totally devastated and have been so moved and amazed at the extent of the respect, love and affection received from all over the world.

"When the time is right and we have come out of this terrible pandemic we hope a fitting memorial can be held for him in the city he loved so much."

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image captionGerry and the Pacemakers was one of the biggest British bands in the 1960s

Referring to the lyrics from Ferry Cross the Mersey, close friend Arthur Johnson said: "He lived close to the banks of the Mersey for all his life and as the words of his song say: 'This land's the place I love and here I'll stay'."

Liverpool City Region mayor Steve Rotheram said: "I feel privileged he let me into his life, although that makes his passing even more painful."

In 1962, Beatles manager Brian Epstein signed up Gerry and the Pacemakers and, a year later, they became the first band to have their first three songs top the charts - How Do You Do It, I Like It and You'll Never Walk Alone.

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image captionA flag on the Royal Iris Mersey ferry flew at half mast after the death of Gerry Marsden

They were one of the successes of the Merseybeat era, with former Beatles star Sir Paul McCartney saying at the time of Marsden's death that: "Gerry was a mate from our early days in Liverpool".

"He and his group were our biggest rivals on the local scene."

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