Friends and family of our beloved Lynda Bellingham said their second and final goodbyes to her at a private memorial service in London yesterday.
Typically thinking of others and never quite realising how loved she was, the service of thanksgiving was arranged by the former Yours columnist before she died so people wouldn’t feel they had to travel to her funeral in Crewkerne, Somerset, last November.
Mourners did of course flock to the funeral and many returned yesterday to listen to heartfelt tributes to the actress and author once again.
Held at St Stephen Walbrook church, where Lynda married her third husband Michael Pattemore aka Mr Spain on her 60th birthday in 2008, the congregation was welcomed by The Venerable Peter Delaney.
“She wasn’t controlling but she did like to know what was going on!” he joked.
Birds of a Feather actress Lesley Joseph read a moving passage from her inspirational book “There’s Something I’ve Been Dying To Tell You” and was followed by a tribute from Gyles Brandreth.
“Laughter, love and friendship are the gifts that Lynda gave us. Haven’t we been blessed?” he asked.
Tributes followed from her agent of 20 years Sue Latimer who spoke about how she loved using her public role to stand up for “the underdog; the unfortunate and against the unfair.”
Her old flatmate Felicity McKinney told how she’d been a loyal friend and a “wonderful and caring” godmother to her son.
Faith in the Future writer Jan Etherington spoke about how the cast and crew alike all adored her. She also said she’d never seen in another actress the “complete mix of vamp and earth mother” that Lynda had portrayed in the Oxo ads when she leaned across the table and said to her Oxo husband Michael: “Remember Preston?”
Her old drama school friend of 48 years Nickolas Grace told how she was his “bestest and oldest” friend and a wonderful mother who adored her boys. Though professionally ambitious, she was never jealous, he added.
Serena Greaves from Barnardo’s told how Lynda, who was adopted herself as a baby, had supported the charity for 24 years.
Describing her as “a truly wonderful lady” who always had time for everybody. When once performing in Scarborough she met a group of young homeless people and gave them a fantastic afternoon which included a personal tour of the theatre and free tickets for a performance.
“She had a wonderful way of putting people at ease and was genuinely interested in what people had to say and their personal stories. What a lovely lady! she added.
“Lynda was an absolute joy to work with; very committed and very interested in Barnardo’s work.”
“She always gave 110 per cent to everything. I’ve seen her fit three engagements into for us on one day while on tour. Throughout, she was always professional.”
“She had a wonderful way of putting people at ease and was genuinely interested in what people had to say and their personal stories.”
Maria McDonagh from the Alzheimer’s Society, which Lynda also supported, told how she first met her at a Parliamentary lobby and discovered she was a “fighter from day one.”
“She continued to be a voice for all those affected by dementia as her adoptive mother Ruth had dementia and she was to learn later in life that her birth mother was also diagnosed with the condition.”
“Lynda always did her best to make sure their voices were heard - and loudly,” she added.
“We quickly learned nobody could say no when asked by Lynda Bellingham. No-one dare!” she said before making everyone laugh describing how she once opened a conference by waltzing across stage with the charity’s chief executive officer.
“We tried to count up how many times Lynda Bellingham, ambassador extraordinaire come to our aid and we simply lost count. Too many; too often,” she added.
Lynda’s old schoolfriend Jenny Puddiefoot told how she’d always been destined to be a star in their schooldays and how she’d always remained in touch with her even though their lives had taken very different directions.
Her literary agent Gordon Wise read from her books and said: “While we all know Lynda did more than just fine as a actress; what you might not know is just how successful she was as a writer.” He went on to explain that she had sold 750,000 books in all.
Following him, her showbiz pal Christopher Biggins joked that no wonder author Lynda La Plante was crying in the congregation as it was more than she’d sold!
The best selling writer and good friend of Lynda’s replied: “That’s why I’m crying.”
Finally grieving widower Michael Pattemore read from his wedding speech and said: “However long we were together would never have been enough.”
“You will never be forgotten until the day I die. I love you Lynda.”
Peter Delaney told mourners who left to the sound of “There’s No Business Like Showbusiness”: “You can shed tears she has gone or you can smile because she has lived.”
Exactly as Lynda would have wished, most were smiling through their tears.
Picture: Brian Aris