Corrie stars past and present say ta-ra to Leeds’s own Liz Dawn

Stars of Coronation Street have gathered for the funeral of much-loved soap actress Liz Dawn.

Cast members past and present arrived at Salford Cathedral to pay their respects to the 77-year-old, who played the part of Vera Duckworth on the cobbles for 34 years.

A coach of Coronation Street stars arrived at the church ahead of the service.

Among the mourners were Samia Longchambon, who plays Maria Connor, and her husband Sylvain, a professional ice skater.

Alan Halsall, whose character Tyrone Dobbs was taken in by Vera and husband Jack on the soap, attended with wife Lucy-Jo Hudson, who played Katy Harris in the soap.

Helen Worth, who plays Gail Rodwell, Jack P Shepherd, who plays David Platt, and Chris Gascoyne, the soap’s Peter Barlow, were also present for the service.

Liz Dawn's family arrives at Salford Cathedral for the funeral service of the Coronation Street actress. PIC: PA

Former stars Ken Morley, who played Reg Holdsworth, Bruce Jones, who played Les Battersby, and Alison King, who played Carla Connor, also turned out to pay their respects.

In her role as the wife of on-screen husband Jack, played by the late Bill Tarmey, the duo endeared themselves to millions of the Street’s fans, becoming a staple of the ITV soap.

A former Woolworths shop girl from Leeds, who first set foot on Weatherfield’s famous cobbles in 1974, Dawn, who had four children, died peacefully last week at home with her family around her.

She had been diagnosed with the lung disease emphysema and was written out of the show in 2008 at her request.

The funeral cortege arrived at the cathedral shortly before 2pm.

Dawn’s husband Don Ibbetson was in tears as he arrived for the service.

Floral tributes, including one spelling out the word “Mum”, were placed on and around the coffin in the hearse.

The wooden coffin was blessed before being carried into the cathedral, with family members following behind.

Longchambon and Halsall delivered a joint tribute to Dawn at the service and both had to comfort each other at times as they recalled how generous she was when they joined the cast as teenagers.

Longchambon briefly broke into tears as she told mourners: “Liz was undoubtedly a wonderful, kind, funny and considerate person, and someone whose generosity knew no bounds.”

Her co-star consoled her with an arm around her back and Longchambon later returned the favour when Halsall’s voice broke when he spoke of Dawn’s dedication to her family and her “devoted” husband Don.

Longchambon told mourners how “our beloved friend Liz Dawn” went from “humble, working class roots in Leeds” to become a “national icon”.

She said: “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.”

Dawn delighted in channelling her energies into raising funds for St James’s Hospital in Leeds when she was bestowed the honour of Lady Mayoress of the city, she said, and was “extremely privileged” to be awarded an MBE for her services to charity.

She went on: “I was 17 when I joined Coronation Street and as daunting as it was becoming part of such an iconic programme it was made easier by having Liz and Bill as parental figures to Alan and me.

“They guided us throughout our early days and ensured we stayed grounded.

“They instilled a discipline in us that would always remain, but at the same time our days on set were filled with nothing but fun and laughter.”

Halsall remembered the day the Prince of Wales visited the Weatherfield set to celebrate the programme’s 40th anniversary and witnessed Dawn in character lying in bed in a coma.

He said: “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.

“Liz was a hard-working wife and mother, sister, grandmother great grandmother and a great friend. Liz was a true inspiration and was always so generous with her time. And she never expected anything in return.”

Longchambon added: “Liz was a truly great and special lady, and her legacy will go on. She touched our lives and made a difference, and for that reason we are truly grateful to her.

“We will cherish our memories of working with her and our everlasting friendship.”

Struggling to hold tears back again, she said: “God bless you Liz, sleep tight. We’ll never forget you.”

The pair completed their tribute by saying: “I love you” - the words that Dawn would always say at the end of their conversations.

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