Emo­tional Coro stars gather to farewell Vera

Herald on Sunday - - WORLD -

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.”

Getty Im­ages

Michael Le Vell and Sally Dynevor pay their re­spects to Corona­tion Street star Liz Dawn.

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