Friends, family and fans gathered at St Bartholomew’s Church, Somerset, for Lynda Bellingham’s funeral on 3rd November 2014.
Guests gathered to bid a fond farewell to their friend, including Loose Women colleagues Jane McDonald, Kate Thornton and Andrea McLean and television personality Christopher Biggins – who wore a pink suit as he thought it would’ve made Lynda smile.
The service began with Lynda’s husband Michael and her two sons Michael, 31, and Robert, 26, carrying her wooden coffin, which was covered in a cloud of white flowers.
Remembering Lynda, both for herself and on behalf of her Loose Women colleagues, Jane McDonald spoke of Lynda’s deep love she held for her family saying: ‘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.
‘She just had this passion for life and the thing about Lynda Bellingham – Lynda Bellingham Pattemore OBE – she lived three lives more than any of us. She knew how to live. She really did.’
Guests gather to pay their final respects
Another Loose Women star, Denise Welch, paid tribute by reading out a poem which included the lines: ‘If you are looking down from wherever you are I am sure you will be having a hoot at the odd bods that loved you so dearly like Biggins [one of Lynda’s best friends, Christopher Biggins] in that bloody pink suit.’
Lynda’s husband Michael Pattemore and her two sons, Michael and Robert, led the ceremony as they carried the coffin into the church
In a particularly emotional ending to the funeral, Lynda’s son Michael read out his mother’s final thoughts. She expressed that she would be sorry not to see the ‘great lives’ her children would build and added, ‘But if you have a little spirituality you must believe I will be watching.’
Lynda continued: ‘Hopefully, I have taught you to aspire to things in life and it isn’t all about money – it is what is in your soul.’
Referring to the brave choice to end her chemotherapy, Lynda said: ‘I know you boys will feel upset and probably cross and go through a cross part with me but you have to respect my decision. I know you will both feel very abandoned.’
Her parting line was in her signature optimistic style, as she wrote: ‘Onwards and upwards sons. Tomorrow is another day. Don’t let the buggers get you down.’
Many of the guests carried white roses in remembrance of Lynda
Lynda’s husband, Michael, paid an emotional tribute to his wife as he described how he had told his wedding guests that Lynda was safe with him.
He said: ‘I did try to keep my promise to keep her safe and I think I protected her from most things. The only thing I couldn’t do was protect her from this vicious cancer.’
Michael revealed that the day of the funeral was exactly 10 years from when he had first met his future wife, Lynda. He then read a poem which Lynda had written about the ending of their relationship: ‘As I always tell you in my own way, I love you Michael Pattemore there is nothing more I can say.’ Crying, he added: ‘I love you too Lynda.’
In accordance with Lynda’s wishes, the funeral wasn’t a typically somber affair though. On leaving the church guests were greeted with a colourful display of fireworks.
Lynda Bellingham Remembered: 19/05/1948 – 19/10/2014
Best known for playing the mother in the Oxo adverts for 16 years, Lynda was more recently in the public eye as a panelist on Loose Women. Just days ago, Lynda returned for a final appearance on the ITV show. The show, which is yet to be aired, sees her former colleagues Janet Street-Porter and Coleen Nolan interview her. Coleen broke down in tears after asking Lynda how she would like to be remembered. Ever humble, Lynda simply replied with, ‘just an honest person.’
On receiving a standing ovation from the audience, Lynda urged fans not to cry for her, saying: ‘Enough! We’ve got so much to chat about. We haven’t time for this! And I do like to chat. Come on girls, ask me, what do you want to know?’
Lynda was buried in accordance with her wishes, that were laid out in her memoirs. She wrote: ‘There will be a service in Somerset and a knees-up in London. So if you are passing, do drop in for a quick boogie.’
Lynda’s husband Michael paid tribute to his late wife in Yours magazine, for which Lynda wrote a regular column. He said: ‘I can tell you now that the words on her gravestone will be ”The curtain went up on May 31 1948, and the final curtain went down on October 19 2014.
‘I just want her to be remembered as an actress more than anything – not as a celebrity or one of the Loose Women. She started her career as an actress and never thought of herself as a celebrity. She’s always been an actress.’
Denise Welch and Lynda Bellingham were good friends, as well as colleagues
Denise Welch, who starred with Lynda on Loose Women, spoke to BBC Ulster about one of the last afternoons she spent with Lynda and some of the other stars of the show. Denise said: ‘She got us chocolate cakes in, she was still the mother hen. It was quite obvious that she was very, very tired but none of us thought that the end was quite as close as it was. We were late getting to the house, we rang the intercom and she said: ”Bloody hell, a woman could die waiting for you lot!”
‘It was a room full of love, we laughed ’til we cried and we were all thrilled.
‘Lynda turned everything into a positive. She’s left a wonderful legacy. She was one of the best character actresses this country has known.’
Lynda with her sons Michael and Robert, her husband Michael and her stepson Bradley, collectiong her OBE at Buckingham Palace
Lynda’s 31-year-old son, Michael, expressed his loss and sense of grief for his mother’s passing via Twitter yesterday, tweeting: ‘Oh mama miss u so much’, along with ‘Thank you everyone! Your love and compassion is overwhelming’, followed by a small picture of a broken heart.
Throughout Lynda’s battle with cancer she was continuously open and honest about the struggles she was facing.
Having been diagnosed with colon cancer last year, Lynda bravely decided to end her treatment on 13th August this year. At the time, she explained that she wanted to limit the amount of suffering her family would have to witness in her last few weeks or months.
In her autobiography, There’s Something I’ve Been Dying To Tell You, Lynda tells of the moment she decided to stop treatment for her cancer, which had spread from her colon to her lungs and liver. She stated in her classically witty style, ‘Yesterday was the glorious 12th – a day for us to remember because it is also the day I decided when I will die. I am very dramatic, aren’t I?
‘I sat down with Michael and Professor Stebbing and announced: “The time has come to cease and desist. I would love to make one more Christmas, if possible, but I want to stop taking chemo around November in order to pass away by the end of January.”
Sadly Lynda didn’t ger her final wish to spend a last Christmas with her husband Michael Pattemore and her two sons, Michael and Robbie. Lynda’s agent, Sue Latimer released a statement saying: ‘Lynda died peacefully in her husband’s arms yesterday at London Hospital.
‘Her family would like to thank the nurses and staff for their tremendous care and support. Actor, writer and presenter – to the end Lynda was a consummate professional.’
Lynda Bellingham remembered in pictures
Lynda at the start of her career in the 1970s
Lynda was most famous for playing the mum in the Oxo adverts from 1983-1999
Her witty and engaging presenting style has made her a firm favourite in British households
Lynda was awarded an OBE earlier this year, for her voluntary services to charitable giving. Her sister died of lung cancer in 2005 at just 56.
Lynda will be missed by her family, friends, colleagues and the nation.
Lynda Bellingham remembered on Twitter
RIP Lynda Bellingham was trending on Twitter within an hour of the announcement of her passing, with hundreds of people and her celebrity friends keen to express their love and admiration for the actress.
Our thoughts at this sad time are with those who were closest to Linda, her family and her friends.
- If you, or someone you know are dealing with the effects of cancer you can find support, advice and more information here.