LAUGHTER and tears were the order of the day as hundreds of people packed a church to pay tribute to a legendary landlady dubbed the “Queen of Blackpool”.
Hotelier Pat Mancini – renowned across the resort for her charity work – lost her battle with extensive cancer last month, age 72.
Comedian Bobby Ball, singer Joe Longthorne and Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown were among the mourners at Our Lady of the Assumption Church, on Common Edge Road.
The service had been carefully planned by Mrs Mancini before her death and in true flamboyant style a stunning white horse-drawn carriage adorned with the words “Nana Blackpool” carried the coffin to the church.
And those gathered were told the resort’s famous Illuminations would “never be the same again” following the death of Mrs Mancini, who ran South Promenade hotel The Queens.
Many of her heartbroken family were too upset to speak, but friend Paul Lomax led the moving tributes to a fun-loving woman with a smile which “lit up the room”.
Speaking on behalf of her granddaughters Gemma and Adele, Mr Lomax said: “Queen of Blackpool, we had an amazing childhood with you.
“She was beautiful, fun and caring with a smile that lit up the room and a heart of gold.”
Her sister Sharon described Mrs Mancini as her “best friend” and added: “She would have loved this, she would have filled the font with champagne and got the celebrations started.”
Meanwhile, niece Victoria Mancini told the congregation: “My auntie is an angel, she was a fabulous woman. God broke all out hearts to prove he only takes the best.”
Dozens of floral tributes were left for the mum-of-two, and other well-known faces who turned out to say a final goodbyes included Pleasure Beach boss Amanda Thompson and the cast of Blackpool Tower Circus.
Friend Mark Simpson said Mrs Mancini had been “simply the best possible friend anyone could wish to have” and added: “Pat had boundless energy and a passionate enthusiasm for life.
“Pat was simply the life and soul of any and every party and as her friend it was a true privilege to be at her side.
“She made light of her condition and was a truly incredible human being.
“In the 20 years I had the pleasure of knowing her, thanks to Pat we enjoyed about a thousand years worth of fun.”
Comedian Phil Walker, son of TV host Roy Walker, stood up to pay tribute to Mrs Mancini on behalf of her good friend Frank Carson, who could not attend the ceremony.
He said: “She will always be known as the Queen of Blackpool. You will be missed, you were a cracker.”
Mrs Mancini was awarded her MBE in 2007 for her dedicated charity work, which saw her raise money for local charities including N-Vision and local scouts.
It was her close friend Mr Longthorne – whose song You and Me was played at the funeral – who nominated her for the prestigious Variety Club Show Business Award back in November, when Mrs Mancini already knew she was ill.
The Queens Hotel was a favourite after-show venue for showbiz personalities.
Comedian Johnnie Casson paid tribute to Mrs Mancini on behalf of her many friends in the entertainment industry.
He said: “My life was better for knowing Pat.
“Her attitude after she was diagnosed was wonderful. She said ‘if I go, I’ve had 72 fantastic years’.
“There’s a new star in the sky at night, have a look and see – it’s Pat Mancini, MBE.”
And head chef at the Queens Hotel, Laurie James added: “She had a wonderful sense of humour, a vivaciousness and a flamboyance – I don’t think the Illuminations switch-on will ever be quite the same again without her.”