Emotional Coro stars gather to farewell Vera
There were emotional scenes at Salford Cathedral as co-stars, family and friends of Liz Dawn gathered to remember the actress who for 34 years played beloved battleaxe Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street.
A requiem mass was held for the soap star following her death at 77 last month. She fought a 16-year battle with emphysema.
Her heartbroken husband, Don Ibbetson, was comforted by family as his wife’s coffin was carried into the cathedral as the organist played the Coronation Street theme tune.
Their son, Graham Ibbetson, told the congregation the family only learned a few weeks ago that medics had told the actress they did not expect her to live more than five years after her 2001 diagnosis of emphysema.
He said his mother had met royalty, politicians and high profile names from the arts, sport and business but meeting Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in 1998 was “very special”.
Among the mourners were many cast members, including Samia Ghadie, who plays Maria Connor, Helen Worth (Gail Rodwell) and Chris Gascoyne (Peter Barlow). A number of former stars who also turned out to pay their respects included Ken Morley (Reg Holdsworth) and Bruce Jones (Les Battersby).
Reading a eulogy, Ghadie said “our beloved friend Liz Dawn” went from “humble, working class roots in Leeds” to become a national icon.
“Her formidable partnership with Bill Tarmey is etched forever in the programme’s history as over three decades they entertained us with their incredible wit and legendary Duckworth sparring matches, written so beautifully and enhanced by their gutsy, honest performances.
“Liz was always a force to be reckoned with and someone we all looked up to and admired. A doting mother-of-four, she used her celebrity status to make the world a better place.
“She wanted to share her good fortune with everyone and was the first to help charities that sought her patronage and support.”
Actor Alan Halsall (Tyrone Dobbs) remembered the day Prince Charles visited the Weatherfield set to celebrate the programme’s 40th anniversary and witnessed Dawn in character lying in bed in a coma.
“The Prince and his entourage came to her bedside keen to meet the character who thought she was related to the royal family. “But with one eye open, she broke the ice by asking: ‘Hiya, love, have ya brought me grapes?’ and Charles turned to his aide and said: ‘Have we got any grapes?’ “Of course we were all in hysterics, as Liz had done what she always did best — make people people laugh and put you all at ease.”
Michael Le Vell and Sally Dynevor pay their respects to Coronation Street star Liz Dawn.