Anne Kirkbride’s former Coronation Street castmates came forward to pay their respects to the late actress at an emotional memorial service yesterday afternoon.
The star, who played Deidre Barlow in the ITV soap, sadly passed away from cancer in January, aged 60.
Around 600 of Anne’s friends, family, fans and co-stars attended the heartfelt service at Manchester Cathedral, with some of her closest Corrie friends giving speeches in her honour.
Beverley Callard, who plays Liz McDonald, had the heartbroken congregation laughing as she shared jokes from her 28-year friendship with Anne in a short speech, saying: “She was just the most wonderful woman, strong and sexy and funny and everything you could wish for in a person.
“We all miss her every day. That smoking shelter at work will never be the same again.
“It’s great that so many people love her so much and have travelled such a long way to say goodbye and just to say, ‘We really love you, Annie’.”
Twelve-year-old Ellie Mulvaney, who plays Amy Barlow, also honoured her on-screen grandmother, recounting her first day working on the show: “I will never forget my first day at Coronation Street, the first scene I ever had with Annie.
“But not only was she a lovely person on set, we sometimes talked off set too. Annie sometimes messaged me and we’d have a short conversation saying ‘love you’.
“It would have only lasted for two minutes but I will treasure those two minutes for a long time.”
Bill Roache, who plays Anne’s on-screen husband, Ken Barlow, gave a reading of the poem ‘She Is Gone’ during the 75-minute service, and Michal Le Vell, who plays Kevin Webster, was spotted breaking down in tears during a heartbreaking eulogy that was written by the late star’s brother, John.
Speaking after the ceremony, Michael revealed that the Corrie set is still missing the late soap veteran’s presence, explaining: “It was a great big shock at first but Anne’s name is still on the dressing room door – we all still feel she’s part of us and she’s still around.
“She was such a vibrant person and she is missed every day, but her presence is still felt and the memories we have, all the great things and the good times we had together.
“I feel very, very blessed to have known and worked with her for 33 years. To have had her in my life for that length of time, it’s joyful.”
Meanwhile, Jimmi Harkishan, who plays Dev Patel, told The Mirror that he found Anne’s passing especially difficult as he didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to her.
Jimmi admitted: “We worked really closely together when Dev and Deirdre had a mad affair. She’s a wonderful, wonderful person and a beautiful actress.
“When Anne passed away I was in Vietnam and I never got the chance to say goodbye so it’s been difficult for me.
“It was the most beautiful service, so many people turned up. The music, the singing, the videos of her, playing the harmonica, it was really touching.”