Tears and smiles for much-loved Fylde clown

Thumbs up from Les in September 1988 after a health scare which forced him to quit his summer show at the Opera House, Blackpool
Thumbs up from Les in September 1988 after a health scare which forced him to quit his summer show at the Opera House, Blackpool
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It was a quarter of a century ago tomorrow, 1,000 people packed into Fairhaven’s White Church and its grounds to say their goodbyes to TV comic legend Les Dawson.

The moving service, attended by showbiz pals and Fylde friends, celebrated the comedian’s life and mourned his untimely death from a heart attack the previous week.

Proceedings were relayed to mourners outside the historic church, which had been due to stage the christening of Les’s eight-month-old daughter Charlotte.

Roads around the church were closed and only official mourners were allowed inside the building and grounds.

Close friend of Les, Richard Gill – wearing a dark grey pin-stripe suit and dark glasses – had arrived at the church at 10.15am to organise proceedings. The star-studded cast of mourners arrived from 10.45am to pay their last respects to the Ansdell funnyman.

Among them were comic Mick Miller, and friend Edward Woodward, who read a tribute to Les in the service.

Cissy and Ada double act partner Roy Barraclough – the last pal to drink with Les before his death – and Mo Moreland of comedy dance troupe the Roly Polys, recited specially-chosen readings. These came from Les’s own books: A Time Before Genesis, reflecting the origin of life, Destiny of Man, an autobiographical work about ill health and the unpublished No Tears For a Clown – about the birth of fourth child Charlotte.

TV and West End singer Jacqui Scott, ex-wife of ventriloquist Keith Harris, sang Wind Beneath My Wings – as she did at Les’ wedding to second wife Tracy in 1989 – and At The End of The Day during the service.

After the service, one of Les’ last wishes was granted when the cortege travelled back past his home on exclusive Islay Road, Ansdell, to Lytham Park Crematorium.