Somerset

Lynda Bellingham funeral: Tributes to 'brilliant' friend

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Media captionLynda Bellingham died in October after a battle with cancer

Lynda Bellingham has been described as "brave, beautiful, brilliant, funny and fabulous" at her funeral, by her friend and TV star Gyles Brandreth.

A service for the 66-year-old was held at St Bartholomew's Church in Somerset.

Best known for her long-running role as a mum in the Oxo TV adverts, she had battled colon cancer since being diagnosed in July 2013.

Other guests included Loose Women colleagues Jane McDonald, Kate Thornton and Andrea McLean.

The actress died "in her husband's arms" on 19 October, in a London hospital.

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Image caption Jane McDonald (second left), Andrea McLean (third right) and Kate Thornton (right) joined other mourners
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Image caption Christopher Biggins wore a pink suit for Lynda Bellingham's funeral in Crewkerne

Bellingham decided to stop having chemotherapy to limit her family's suffering, after her cancer spread to her lungs and liver.

Speaking last month, she said giving up the treatment was "a huge relief because I took back some control of myself".

During the service at the church in Crewkerne, Mr Brandreth said: "I first met her nearly 40 years ago when we were introduced by [Christopher] Biggins.

"Of course, I fell for her at once. She was so funny and so sexy - even gay men fancied her."

Actress Maureen Lipman paid tribute, saying: "I wish I could reproduce the fun times, the joke-telling.

"Her sudden honking laughter, her craziness, her rich, throaty and slightly metallic voice, her high campery and her beautiful brown eyes."

At the scene: Tammy McAllister, BBC News

Among the mourners were two ladies who told me they felt they wanted to pay their respects as Lynda was a well-known and loved figure whom they had grown up with in the public eye. But they also did not want to intrude on the family's grief.

Another mourner, Joyce Willey said: "Fourteen years ago I survived cancer with only 40 per cent chance of survival - I'm still here 14 years later. It's quite poignant when you've had it yourself and you realise it's quite a devastating thing - it's not a nice word, cancer."

About 300 members of the public turned up at St Bartholomew's Church for the funeral, which was decorated with viburnum, avalanche roses and mint green carnations - all in hues of green and white, which were Lynda's favourite colours.

One woman, Marlene, who went along to pay her respects, said: "It's an honour, it's lovely to think she's being buried here, it's an honour for Crewkerne."

Polly Warner told me: "I think she's an absolutely wonderful lady, very strong, inspirational to a lot of people. I lost my mother to cancer coming up to two years ago. She's a marvellous woman, such an inspiration."

Margaret Long said: "I've always admired what she's done, her personality. I first remember her as being the Oxo mum and my children used to love her. I think she's an inspiration to anyone who has got cancer."

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Image caption Michael Redfern, the actress's on-screen husband from the Oxo adverts, Coleen Nolan and Robert Lindsay arrived at the church for the funeral
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Image caption Gyles Brandreth and wife Michele Brown were among the mourners

Bellingham had an acting career that spanned five decades.

She had a starring role in the BBC series All Creatures Great and Small, which for a time became a staple of Sunday evening viewing.

But for many people, she will be best remembered for her 16 years as the "Oxo Mum" in advertisements that became a series of mini-soap operas.

She was born Meredith Lee Hughes in Montreal, Canada, on 31 May 1948.

Her mother Marjorie gave birth to her out of wedlock, incensing her strict Jewish family, who made her give up her daughter.

She was adopted by a British couple, Donald and Ruth Bellingham, who brought her up in their Buckinghamshire home.

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Image caption Lynda Bellingham was awarded an OBE in the 2014 Queen's New Year Honours for services to charity
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Image caption The hearse arrived for the funeral at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne
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Image caption Widower Michael Pattemore (front right) and her step-son Bradley (middle) carried the coffin into church

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