Liverpool laughs and cries as it says 'ta-ra' to Cilla Black
Published 21/08/2015 | 02:30
LIVERPOOL ground to a halt yesterday as it a last goodbye to its "favourite daughter".
After an emotional funeral full of tears and laughter, Cilla Black made her final journey.
Cliff Richard sang, and tributes from the world of celebrity to the TV legend were heart-warming and funny.
Comedian Les Dennis said the nation has "lost a friend, a sister, a mother".
"I think the service was magnificent," he said. "It was amazing in the church, very moving and there was a lorra, lorra laughs and Cilla would have loved that.
"The people of Liverpool really, really love her, her heart is here and now she's here as well."
When asked about Anyone Who Had a Heart playing during the funeral, Dennis said: "It was the most wonderful rendition. I think the nation has been singing her songs all week, and hopefully her album will get to number one - she would have loved that."
Her body was being driven the short distance to Allerton Cemetery, where she was laid to rest in a private burial alongside her parents, John and Priscilla.
Close friend Paul O'Grady paid a heartfelt and comical tribute.
"I'm so grateful for how she allowed me into her life. And we spent nearly two decades hell-raising, if you'll pardon the expression," he said, turning to the bishop, who joked that O'Grady should "say three Hail Marys".
"She taught me lots of things," said O'Grady, "mainly never to turn right on the plane. She was a great friend. She was full of fun. She was a wonderful woman. She was talented. She was so witty. She adored her family. She loved her sons. She loved her grandchildren. She was so proud that she came from Scottie Road.
"I loved her dearly. I don't know what I'm going to do - the light went off a couple of weeks ago and it has not gone back on yet. I am just going to miss her so much.
"Cilla, I would just like to say thanks for all the fun, thanks for all the laughs - ta-ra, girl."
Black's son, Ben, said that, although he was devastated by his mother's death, he "took some solace" that she died in her favourite place, her holiday home in Spain while sunbathing and listening to music.
He said his mother was "always young at heart", adding: "I think this was one of the reasons why so many people loved her dearly."
He continued that his father "really was her world" and that she was "forced to grow up for the first time" when he died. There was laughter as he added that she "only really grew up a little".
Another son, Robert, said his mother was a "wonderful lady who had touched all our lives and brought joy and laughter" to those she knew.
"Her pure enthusiasm, self-belief and wonderful sense of humour made being with her a joy and a pleasure," he added.
Among the many floral tributes left outside the church were those from celebrity friends who were unable to attend the service, including Bruce Forsyth and wife Wilnelia, Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach, Paul McCartney and family and Joan Collins and her husband Percy Gibson.
The Long And Winding Road, which was one of Black's favourite songs, was played as the service came to an end.
Speaking outside the church, TV host Carol Vorderman echoed the sentiments of many mourners after the funeral.
"She was very much there," she said. "She was a fantastic lady. She loved life. I know those who were very close to her were very, very surprised. So there is still a sense of disbelief."
Jimmy Tarbuck said: "She was Liverpool's Cinderella, if you wrote a story - that's her life."
Tarbuck, who met Black when they were both 15, added: "She was a best friend for life. If you met Cilla you liked her. tPeople are playing her songs, and they will be playing them for a long time."
Andrew Lloyd Webber said: "I thought it was beautifully conducted and a wonderful choice of music. Those who knew her well spoke fantastically about her, the sense of joy, fun and love that was always around Cilla."