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Wednesday, April 22, 1998 Published at 14:59 GMT 15:59 UK


My 'heartbreak' at loss of Linda - Sir Paul
image: [ Linda: relaxed and happy in her final pictures ]
Linda: relaxed and happy in her final pictures

Sir Paul McCartney has spoken in public for the first time of his "total heartbreak" at the death of his wife Linda.

"She was unique, and the world is a better place for having known her," said the former Beatle.

His final words to her were to imagine they were on horseback together in sun-lit bluebell woods.

"I had barely got to the end of the sentence when she closed her eyes and gently slipped away," he said.

[ image: The candle-lit memorial in Santa Barbara]
The candle-lit memorial in Santa Barbara
On Tuesday evening hundreds of mourners gathered in the garden of Santa Barbara courthouse, California, to pay tribute to Linda.

She had died nearby and residents joined together to hear poetry and music. A photograph of her was propped on a stage, surrounded by flowers and candles.

Earlier, Sir Paul, his stepdaughter Heather and the couple's three children, Mary, Stella and James, scattered Linda's ashes in a quiet family ceremony at their farm in East Sussex.

[ image: Mourners sign a giant condolence card]
Mourners sign a giant condolence card
The last pictures taken of Linda show her relaxed and happy at her family home.

They were taken by the McCartneys' daughter Mary at home a few days before Linda, 56, made her final trip to America.

The acclaimed photographer and vegetarian campaigner posed with spring flowers, her horse, long-haired dogs and a Shetland pony called Shnoo.

Sir Paul described his wife's two-year battle with cancer as a "nightmare". "She never complained and always hoped to conquer it. It was not to be," he said.

[ image: Linda enjoyed horse riding]
Linda enjoyed horse riding
The multi-millionaire pop star continued: "As a mother she was the best. We always said we wanted the kids to grow up with good hearts, and they have."

Sir Paul spoke of Linda's tireless fight for animal rights. "How many women can you think of who would single-handedly take on opponents like the meat and livestock commission, risk being laughed at, and yet succeed?"

He finished with a last message to his wife of 29 years: "I love you, Linda."

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21 Apr 98 | UK
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