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fireworks light up the sky as stars bid farewell to Lynda

Friends, family and showbiz stars paid tearful tributes to the actress Lynda Bellingham as they said farewell to an "extraordinary force of nature".

They reminisced with jokes, verse and near-the-knuckle anecdotes as they fondly recalled the 66-year-old, with her "honking laughter", who died a little over a fortnight ago after she made the decision to end treatment for her cancer.

Bellingham - who in recent years had become known as a presenter of ITV's Loose Women - had asked for a lively send-off so her husband Michael Pattemore lined up a string of guests who made her funeral into a variety show-style celebration of her life.

They gathered at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset, to mourn the actress who was loved for her roles in shows such as Faith In The Future, All Creatures Great And Small and for one of her most enduring roles as the mother in a long-running series of ads for Oxo.

Her screen husband from the hit commercials, Michael Redfern, was among those attending along with Loose Women Coleen Nolan, Jane McDonald, Andrea McLean and Kate Thornton. Other notables included Julia Sawalha, Coronation Street's Helen Worth, and Robert Lindsay, and Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes.

A choir sang Away In A Manger - as a mark of Bellingham's wish to see one last Christmas - and then she went out with a bang to a stunning firework display that sparkled across the sky as she was laid to rest.