Family of Coronation Street star Liz Dawn says she was a ‘love, light and inspiration’

1996: Actress Liz Dawn with her award for Yorkshire Woman of the Year.
1996: Actress Liz Dawn with her award for Yorkshire Woman of the Year.
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The family of Coronation Street actress Liz Dawn, who played Vera Duckworth for more than 30 years, said they are “devastated and heartbroken” following her death aged 77.

In a statement her family said: “We are devastated and heartbroken at the passing of our much-loved wife, mother, sister, grandmother and great grandmother, the incredible Liz Dawn.”

They said she died peacefully on Monday night at home “with her loving family around her”.

They added: “She has been the love, light and inspiration in our lives and we are bereft at her passing.”

Coronation Street said in a statement that “her family at Coronation Street are heartbroken”.

They added: “We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathy at this very sad time to Liz’s devoted husband Don, her loving children Graham, Dawn, Ann and Julie, their families and her six grandchildren and three great grandchildren.

“We have been blessed to have Liz in our lives, as she was such a kind, considerate and caring friend and colleague. As Coronation Street’s Vera Duckworth for 34 years, Liz brought so much joy and happiness to so many. She was a wonderful actress who will forever be a true Coronation Street legend.”

She first appeared in Coronation Street in 1974 before her character moved into number nine along with husband Jack, played by the late Bill Tarmey.

After being diagnosed with emphysema, Dawn was written out of the soap in 2008 when Vera died in her sleep.

Two years later, she made a moving comeback as the much-loved Corrie resident.

Just before he passed away, Jack saw a vision of the wife who had spent years nagging him and they shared a last dance together.

In 2012, Tarmey died in Spain. At the time, she said: “You couldn’t wish to meet a more lovely man and a true gentleman.”

Speaking about her health on a celebrity version of the Jeremy Kyle Show in 2014, the actress revealed: “I take a lot of tablets. I just live every day and get on with it.”

Born Sylvia Butterfield, the actress was best known by her professional name Elizabeth or Liz Dawn.

She was awarded an MBE in the 2000 birthday honours.

In 2015 she came out of retirement to do a cameo in Emmerdale’s Christmas special.

She said at the time: “There’s only one show I’d come out of retirement for and it’s Emmerdale, particularly as I’ve celebrated my 76th birthday this week so I wanted to mark the occasion.”

She starred in the hour-long Christmas Day episode of ITV’s Yorkshire rural soap as Mrs Winterbottom.

Her character, a pensioner, was described as “a decidedly demanding guest” staying at the B&B of Eric Pollard (played by Chris Chittell).

Talking about the role, Dawn said: “I love my character. What a feisty lady she is! Giving them all a run for their money in the B&B on Christmas Day. She’s so rude to them, which isn’t like me at all.”

In 2013 the actress spoke to the Daily Mirror after suffering a health scare.

She told the paper she was “lucky to be alive after having a heart attack”.

Dawn recalled how she began having chest pains while on holiday in Spain and had to be given emergency oxygen on the flight home.

Following a visit to the hospital on her return, she revealed she had been fitted with a pacemaker.

She told the Daily Mirror: “When I look back I can’t believe it. I nearly died. I feel lucky to still be here able to talk about it all.

“I couldn’t believe it. To hear those words - it was so frightening. After all I have been through with my health I just thought, ‘Oh no, not something else.’

“It was frightening to think that it happened while I was on holiday and that I hadn’t even realised the severity of what was happening to me.”

Coronation Street’s executive producer, Kieran Roberts, said in a statement: “Liz Dawn was a true Coronation Street legend, a brilliant actor and a wonderful person.

“Everyone lucky enough to have worked with Liz during her 34 years playing Corrie icon Vera Duckworth will remember her with huge affection.”

Coronation Street stars have paid tribute to their former colleague, with Kym Marsh saying she was a ‘wonderful lady’.

She tweeted: “Just heard the terrible news of our lovely Liz Dawns passing. I’m so sad. What a wonderful lady. She will be so missed. Love to her familyx”.

Actor Antony Cotton, who plays Sean Tully in the ITV soap, said he was ‘devastated’.

In a long message on Twitter, he wrote: “ Liz was a wonderful actress, a fascinating storyteller, a hilarious comedian and most importantly a brilliant friend.

“For many people of my generation, Jack and Vera WERE Coronation street.

“I’m thinking about Don and all their family who Liz adored. A light had gone out in Weatherfield a few years ago, but now Manchester too, has lost a little of it’s sparkle...”.

TV presenter Kate Garraway also paid tribute on Twitter, writing: “So sad to hear of the passing of #LizDawn - she created one of the best characters ever & she was always so lovely in person #RIP”.

Coronation Street actor Shayne Ward, who plays Aidan Connor, tweeted: “RIP Liz Dawn”.

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