Lynda Bellingham laid to rest as fireworks explode
Lynda Bellingham was laid to rest at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset, today (03.11.14) with her funeral attended by a host of her famous friends, including Christopher Biggins, Gyles Brandreth, Jane McDonald, Kate Thornton, Maureen Lipman, Helen Worth and Sue Holderness.
Lynda Bellingham was buried today (03.11.14) as fireworks were let off at her graveside.
The actress - who passed away in October after losing her battle with colon cancer - was laid to rest at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset, and as her coffin was committed to the earth at a nearby cemetery several fireworks exploded in the sky in keeping with her wish that her friends and family "have a party when I'm gone".
Her coffin - which was covered in white flowers - was carried by her husband Michael Pattemore, sons Michael and Robert and her stepson Bradley to and from the church which was full of her famous friends.
Among the mourners were her close pal Christopher Biggins, who wore a pink suit because he "knew it would put a smile on her face", her former 'Loose Women' co-stars Jane McDonald, Kate Thornton, Lisa Maxwell, Andrea McLean, Denise Welch and Coleen Nolan, actress Maureen Lipman, 'Coronation Street' star Helen Worth and actor Michael Redfern - who played her on screen husband in the long-running series of Oxo adverts for which she became synonymous with.
The service was led by Lynda's friend, the former Archdeacon of London Peter Delaney MBE, and Maxwell gave a reading of The Epistle to the Romans, while 'Only Fools And Horses' star Sue Holderness read Shakespeare's Sonnet 116.
Lynda had asked her spouse Michael to organise a funeral which was full of fun and he fulfilled her wish by creating a service that mimicked The Royal Variety Performance.
Actor-and-broadcaster Gyles Brandreth read out a hilarious tribute to his friend, during which he described her as "sexy", "funny" and a person who showed everyone "how to live".
Recalling how he met 40 years ago through Biggins, he said: "I liked her at once. I couldn't not. She was so funny and so sexy. Every guy who met her fancied her. In fact I say especially gay men fancied her. She would be the first to admit that when she came to men she didn't always get it right. Her first marriage was a blip, her second was a trauma, although it brought her her greatest gifts in life - her two sons. Then came Mike. We were suspicious at first. Some of us were jealous. But then there was that lovely happy wedding day and we met you.
"We were so happy that you made Lynda so happy, and we were so happy therefore for you both.
"I don't think I've known anyone who was more happy than Lynda. She showed us how to live, and then in her last months she showed us how to die; with grace and courage and humour and acceptance."
Other tributes came from her sister Jean Bellingham, Lipman - who admitted she would miss Lynda's honking laughter and her high campery" - and former 'Loose Women' panellist McDonald, who struggled to hold back tears as she remembered her pal.
Referring to her husband and sons, McDonald said: "She loved you so much. That's what Lynda had in abundance, she had love.
"You only had to ring Lynda and she would bring you out of it. We all know that Lynda was a great actress but she was so much more.
"I just wanted to say how much she brought to our little show. She hated it with a passion to be honest. She couldn't stand it you know, but we all loved her. She just had this passion for life and the thing about Lynda Bellingham she lived three lives more than any of us. She knew how to live. She really did."
Biggins paid a moving tribute to his pal and and ended it by reading the poem 'Codicil', written by Julia Deakin, which had been given to him by his "comedy guru" Lipman.
Among the hymns sang was 'Away In A Manger', which was poignantly chosen because of Lynda's wish to spend one last Christmas with her family, a desire which influenced her decision to stop having cancer treatment.
Outside the church hundreds of fans gathered to pay their respects to Lynda and were able to listen to the service via speakers placed outside.