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Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 15:23 GMT 16:23 UK

UK: Wales

Farewell to star Lena

Lena Zavaroni is laid to rest after a tortured life

Former child star Lena Zavaroni has been laid to rest after a service near her home in Hertfordshire.

Family, friends and fans thronged St Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Hoddesdon to pay their respects.

Friend and actress Bonnie Langford, who was at stage school with Lena in the 1970s, was among the mourners.
[ image: Bonnie Langford and Lena met at stage school]
Bonnie Langford and Lena met at stage school
Lena, who suffered from the eating disorder anorexia nervosa, died in the University of Wales Hospital, Cardiff, after contracting an infection following neurosurgery last month.

Her family had asked for flowers to be sent to anorexia sufferers, but there were dozens of floral tributes at the funeral.

One bore the message: "In affectional rememberance of Lena. From Bute community council on behalf on the people of Bute."

Another wreath read: "Goodbye you wee darling. You're in Heaven now rest in peace."

One fan sent a tribute in the shape of a musical note, bearing the words: "To a perfect little angel, dear Lena."

[ image: Lena felt the pressure of showbusiness]
Lena felt the pressure of showbusiness
Divorcee Lena, who was born on the Isle fo Bute, lived in Hoddesdon for several years. Her father Victor still lives there with his wife Christine.

She was nine when she shot to fame in the 1970s after winning the TV talent show Opportunity Knocks for five weeks in a row.

She went on to top the charts with Ma, He's Making Eyes At Me.

At the age of 12 she sang for the Queen at a Royal Variety performance and appeared alongside Frank Sinatra and Liza Minnelli at a charity concert in Los Angeles.

But it was at the height of her fame, aged 13, that she developed the eating disorder anorexia. Her career slipped and she retired from showbusiness.

By her mid-thirties, she was living in a council flat in Hertfordshire and surviving on £48.80 weekly state benefits.

She fought a constant battle with anorexia and depression, and was admitted to the University Hospital of Wales earlier this year in a final attempt to overcome her illness.

On 7 September, she underwent a rare operation to remove the part of her brain that was believed to be controlling her anorexia, but contracted pneumonia after the surgery.

An inquest into her death has been opened and adjourned.

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