Cilla Black is finally laid to rest today as her funeral took place in her hometown of Liverpool, with many of the star's famous friends in attendance
Cilla Black made her final journey to Liverpool today as the star’s hometown played host to her funeral, almost three weeks after her sudden death.
Many of Cilla’s famous friends – including Cliff Richard, Carol Vorderman, Christopher Biggins, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tom Jones – gathered to say goodbye to the flame-haired star, with many sharing emotional tributes on Twitter.
Former Loose Woman Carol wrote: ‘In Liverpool for Cilla’s funeral… It will be a very sad day, but it is a celebration of her life, and what a life that was x’
Meanwhile Christopher Biggins simply wrote: ‘In Liverpool for a very special friend. Xxxxxx’
Other stars in attendance include Paul O’Grady, TV producer Nigel Lythgoe, actress and model Lorraine Chase, and Jo Wood, the ex-wife of Rolling Stone Ronnie Wood.
Cilla’s funeral took place at St Mary’s Church on Merseyside – the same church in which she married her beloved Bobby in 1969.
Sir Cliff opened the service by saying a few words before singing his song Faithful One.
The 74-year-old said he couldn’t think of Cilla in the past tense, adding that her passing was a ‘hiccup’ in their relationship and that he couldn’t wait to see her again.
‘I can not think of Cilla in the past tense. There are some people who should always be there,’ he said.
Speaking about meeting Cilla for the first time, he added: ‘The one thing that hit me originally was that this is a woman of commitment and dedication – and our industry sometimes doesn’t have that.’
Christopher Biggins gave a bible reading during the service, adding his own tribute at the end by saying: ‘We will always love you, Cilla.
Cilla’s son Robert also made an emotional speech, saying of his famous mother: ‘She celebrated life in the living of it. Her pure enthusiasm, self-belief and sense of humour made being with her a privilege and a pleasure.’
Also taking to the alter was Liverpudlian entertainer and Cilla’s lifelong friend Jimmy Tarbuck described the star as ‘Liverpool’s Cinderella’ and ‘the first Lady of Showbusiness.’
He added: ‘For each and everyone in St Mary’s Church today. She was our mum, our nan, our sister, our inspiration, our treasured friend.’
Paul O’Grady – who described Cilla as his ‘best friend’ – gave a final eulogy.
The TV and radio star revealed he never thought he’d be speaking at Cilla’s funeral because he believed she was ‘indestructible’.
He also joked that he had introduced Cilla to the ‘finer things’ in New York, such as burlesque shows and questionable bars.
Summing up his dear friend in one word, the Paul simply said: ‘Laughter.’
The star also said: ‘We spent two decades together hell-raising, if you’ll pardon the expression’ – causing Bishop Tom Williams to comically order him to ‘say three hail Marys.’
In addition to hymns including Amazing Grace, Cilla’s first hit, Anyone Who Had A Heart, was played, and The Beatles’ song The Long And Winding Road closed the ceremony – whilst mid-way through the ceremony fans gathered outside the church broke out into a Cilla sing-a-long.
Floral tributes to the star came from the likes of Beatle Ringo Starr – who wrote simply ‘Peace and Love’ – and his bandmate Paul McCartney.
Fans including a Cilla look-a-like lined the streets along the two-mile funeral cortege – many of which had been closed especially for the funeral – holding emotional tributes to the entertainment legend.
Earlier in the day, mourners gathered outside The Cavern Club in Liverpool – where Cilla first got her big break after meeting The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein whilst working as a cloakroom assistant in the Sixties – with many laying flowers and tributes to the star.
Following the ceremony, Cilla’s body was laid to rest at a private ceremony in Allerton Cemetery next to her parents, John and Priscilla.
The epitaph on her headstone reportedly reads ‘here lies Cilla the singer’ as she did not want to be referred to as a TV presenter.
Cilla first found fame during the Swinging Sixties when her song Anyone Who Had A Heart shot to number one.
She followed that success up with 20 consecutive UK Top 40 hits before swapping singing for a TV career in the Eighties, hosting shows including Blind Date and Surprise Surprise, regularly drawing audiences of around 22 million.
She died earlier this month following head injuries from a fall at her home near Marbella, Spain.
See all the pictures from Cilla’s funeral in the gallery above, which we’ll update throughout the day.