Ta-ra, Thora

2,000 friends remember comedy icon

Stars and politicians have gathered at Westminster Abbey in a thanksgiving service for Dame Thora Hird.

More than 2.000 people attended the service in hpnour of the comedy actress, who died in March aged 91.

It was led by the Dean of Westminster and BBC Director-General Greg Dyke gave the reading.

Victoria Wood, who wrote the BBC1 comedies Pat and Margaret and Dinnerladies in which Dame Thora starred, read from the preface to Dame Thora's autobiography, Nothing Like A Dame.

And the address was given by Dame Thora's friend Alan Bennett, writer of the Talking Heads monologues, for which she won two of her three Bafta Awards.

Daisy Tormé and James Tormé read a tribute to their grandmother, who was also known for presentingPraise Be! on BBC1 for 17 years.

After the service, Dame Thora's daughter Jan Scott said: "My mother was always aware of the responsibility that fame brought her and used the opportunity it provided to help others.

"In the Abbey today were representatives of over 30 of the charities she continued to help during her life, 2,000 ordinary people who she would always have found time to talk with and encourage, and friends who have flown in from across the world.

"All were there to say goodbye to a lady they felt was part of their family.

"Thora's motto in her later years was, 'Don't stop doing things because you're growing old, you grow old because you stop doing things' and how she lived up to that."

Of her grandmother's career, Daisy Tormé said: "She had no idea just how special she was. If you'd ask her, she'd say, 'Me? I'm just ordinary.' Ordinary? Ha! My grandmother was the most extraordinary person I've known. She loved acting, singing, dancing, performing but mostly she loved us - her family"

The BBC will commemorate the life of Dame Thora tomorrow when it unveils its Star Terrace at Television Centre, West London.

Twenty-three plaques will be revealed, incorporating tributes to a number of well known BBC faces including Dame Thora.

Published: 15 Sep 2003

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