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Last Updated: Wednesday, 27 April, 2005, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Stars mourn veteran actor Mills
Pallbearers carry the coffin containing British actor Sir John Mills from St Mary's Church in Denham
Sir John Mills' children walked behind their father's coffin
Some of Britain's leading performers have been attending the funeral of Oscar-winning actor Sir John Mills.

Dame Judi Dench, Lord Attenborough, Sir Roger Moore and 1960s model Twiggy attended the service in Denham, Buckinghamshire, on Wednesday.

Actresses Helen Mirren, Nanette Newman and Anita Harris also attended despite heavy rain and thunder, as did Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair.

Sir John, who grew up in Felixstowe, Suffolk, died on Saturday aged 97.

His coffin was carried to St Mary the Virgin church in a horse-drawn Victorian-style hearse decked with flowers. It was followed by his family in a cortege of dark Rolls-Royces.

Sir Roger Moore
Sir Roger Moore said the service was "beautiful"
The coffin was taken into the church by some of his relatives, including his grandson Crispian Mills - a former member of Britpop band Kula Shaker - to the tune of Frank Sinatra's You Make Me Feel So Young.

A number of floral tributes, which had been laid by members of the public, lined the church path.

One tribute read: "To a wonderful actor and a perfect gentleman", while another said "You are a true legend and my hero".

Some of the public were allowed into the service while others stood outside to hear it conveyed by loudspeaker.

The service featured actor Stephen Fry reading a lesson from Ecclesiastes III, a tribute address by Lord Attenborough and a song performed on the ukulele by Crispian Mills.

He was such a courageous man - forthright, kindly and with a unique, loving sense of humour
Lord Attenborough

Sir John's daughter Juliet read Fear No More the Heat O' the Sun by William Shakespeare and his other daughter Hayley read from What Shall We Do Tomorrow? by her mother, Lady Mills.

Parish rector Rev Adrian Hirst paid tribute to Sir John's work "which touched the lives of all of us here and the lives of millions of others who saw him over the years in theatre and in films".

Mourners at Sir John Mills' funeral
Cherie Blair and Anita Harris (centre right) attended the service

Lady Mills was unable to attend the service due to poor health, but Lord Attenborough spoke of their "extraordinary love affair" during his address.

He also said Sir John was held "in the deepest respect and love" by everyone with whom he had worked.

"He was such a courageous man - forthright, kindly and with a unique, loving sense of humour that was, in my judgment, unsurpassed. Thank you, Johnny."

Afterwards Sir Roger Moore said he thought the funeral service was beautiful.

"How can you do justice to a life of 97 years? He was a great man," he said.

Anita Harris added: "It was a lovely ceremony. John was a darling man who spread joy throughout the world with his films.

Sir John Mills
Sir John Mills had continued working despite failing health

Sir John studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his name in overtly patriotic films including The October Man, Scott of the Antarctic, Dunkirk and Ice Cold in Alex.

He won an Oscar in 1971 for his portrayal of a mute village idiot in Ryan's Daughter.

He was made a CBE in 1960, knighted in 1976 and was given a special honour by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) in 2002.

A memorial service will be held on 30 June at the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, London.


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