Coronation Street stars past and present say Ta-ra to Liz Dawn, aka Vera Duckworth

"True inspiration" Liz Dawn shone with generosity and humour as she went from humble working class roots to become a "national icon", mourners at the much-loved soap actress's funeral heard.

Stars of Coronation Street past and present joined her family and friends to pay their respects at Salford Cathedral to the 77-year-old, who played the part of battleaxe Vera Duckworth on the Weatherfield cobbles for 34 years.

Dawn shone in her role as the wife of henpecked husband Jack, played by the late Bill Tarmey, as the duo endeared themselves to millions of Corrie's fans.

She had been diagnosed with the lung disease emphysema in 2001 and was written out of the show in 2008 at her request.

Dawn - real name Sylvia Ann Ibbetson - died peacefully last month but the congregation was told by her son Graham that the family only learned recently that medics did not think in 2001 she would survive beyond five years.

Bill Tarmey and Liz Dawn as Coronation Street's Jack and Vera Duckworth
Bill Tarmey and Liz Dawn as Coronation Street's Jack and Vera Duckworth

Cast members Samia Longchambon (Maria Connor) and Alan Halsall (Tyrone Dobbs) delivered a joint tribute to Dawn at the Requiem Mass and both had to comfort each other at times as they recalled when they joined the cast as teenagers and entered the turbulent world of Jack and Vera.

Longchambon broke into tears as she told mourners: "Liz was undoubtedly a wonderful, kind, funny and considerate person, and someone whose generosity knew no bounds."

Her co-star consoled her with an arm around her back and Longchambon later returned the favour when Halsall's voice broke when he spoke of Dawn's dedication to her four children, six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and her "devoted" husband Don.

Sylvain and Samia Longchambon - Credit: PA
Sylvain and Samia Longchambon Credit: PA

Longchambon told how "our beloved friend Liz Dawn" went from "humble, working class roots in Leeds" to become a "national icon".

She said: "Her formidable partnership with Bill Tarmey is etched forever in the programme's history as over three decades they entertained us with their incredible wit and legendary Duckworth sparring matches, written so beautifully and enhanced by their gutsy, honest performances.

"Liz was always a force to be reckoned with and someone we all looked up to and admired.

"A doting mother of four, she used her celebrity status to make the world a better place.

"She wanted to share her good fortune with everyone and was the first to help charities that sought her patronage and support."

Dawn delighted in channelling her energies into raising funds for St James's Hospital in Leeds when she was bestowed the honour of lady mayoress of the city, she said, and felt "extremely privileged" to be awarded an MBE for her services to charity.

 Alan Halsall and wife Lucy-Jo Hudson  - Credit: Getty
Alan Halsall and wife Lucy-Jo Hudson Credit: Getty

Halsall said: "Liz was a true inspiration and was always so generous with her time. And she never expected anything in return."

Dawn's son Graham Ibbetson said his mother had met royalty, politicians and high-profile names from the world of arts, sport and business, but meeting Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in 1998 was "very special".

"This reflected a moment in her life that she knew for certain would make her mum Annie so proud," he said. "I am sure Annie was looking down on Mum that day.

"But Mum also knew this resonated to millions of ordinary people, everyday people, working hard to support their families.

"She understood that. She knew them. She was one of them.

"No matter who met Mum - at any place, at any time and in any circumstances - all of them laughed and walked away smiling, happier. That is Mum's legacy."

A private committal followed the cathedral service.