independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Nolan sisters' tears as hundreds pay tribute to Bernie Nolan at funeral

Well-wishers lined the streets of Bernie Nolan's hometown as her family and friends said goodbye to the actress and singer who died of cancer earlier this month.

Crowds gathered outside Blackpool's Grand Theatre where a ceremony to celebrate her life was held and broadcast over loudspeakers for fans.

Linda Nolan at the funeral of Bernie Nolan at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool
Linda Nolan at the funeral of Bernie Nolan at the Grand Theatre in Blackpool

They heard her sister Maureen read from a letter Bernie had written for the ceremony and her daughter, Erin, also gave a reading before the coffin left the building by the stage door.

Among the guests from the world of showbiz were EastEnders star Shane Richie, singer Joe Longthorne and comic duo Cannon and Ball.

The 52-year-old died after a long battle with cancer and will reportedly be buried with the ashes of her daughter, Kate, who was stillborn more than a decade ago.

Bernie was initially given the all clear for breast cancer in 2010, but last year discovered it had spread to her brain, lungs, liver and bones.

A spokeswoman for the family said she "passed away peacefully...with all of her family around her".

She shot to stardom with her singing sisters The Nolans.

The group, best known for 1979 hit I'm In The Mood For Dancing, sold millions of records around the world and enjoyed success with songs such as Don't Make Waves, Attention To Me and Gotta Pull Myself Together.

They became huge in Japan, where they are said to have sold more records than the Beatles, and also supported Frank Sinatra.

She quit the group in 1994 and made a name as an actress appearing in Brookside and The Bill.

Bernie, who married drummer Steve Doneathy and gave birth to Erin in 1999, also took part in Channel 4 series The Games and ITV's Popstar To Operastar.

On stage, she performed in Blood Brothers, Flashdance The Musical and the UK tour of Chicago The Musical in 2012 as well as a touring production of Calendar Girls.

Press Association

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