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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 August 2007, 17:40 GMT 18:40 UK
Stars mourn Mike Reid's passing
By Michael Osborn
Entertainment reporter, BBC News, in Essex

June Brown and Barbara Windsor
June Brown and Barbara Windsor were among the mourners
The tiny Essex church where famous names, family and friends came to bid farewell to actor and comedian Mike Reid was a far cry from the urban grit of Albert Square.

The enduring fame of the EastEnders star drew a media throng to the remote village of Little Easton, fringed on all sides by cornfields.

While the church was packed with mourners, well-wishers braved driving rain and wind to listen to the sombre and poignant funeral service for Reid, who died suddenly last month aged 67.

His life was heralded a "colourful tapestry", while musical dedications included the Frank Sinatra classic My Way.

On a green near the church, numerous floral tributes were left for Reid - reflecting his private and professional lives as well as the latter years spent in Spain.

Floral tribute from the cast of EastEnders
One floral tribute captured Reid's connections to the East End
Near an elegant spray from EastEnders co-star Barbara Windsor was an elaborate arrangement from the show's cast, forming the stretch of the Thames from the programme's well-known opening title sequence.

"Dearest, lovely irreplaceable Mike... lucky to have you in Walford, to remain forever in our hearts," the dedication read.

Co-stars from the show attending the service included Pam St Clement, June Brown and Barbara Windsor.

Speaking to people gathered outside the church, Windsor said: "He was a great man, he made me laugh."

Pallbearers carrying Mike Reid
The funeral took place at Little Easton Parish Church in Essex
St Clement - whose dramatic partnership with Reid as his on-off wife Pat Butcher went back to 1987 - looked grief-stricken and remained silent.

Sid Owen, who played Frank's son Ricky in EastEnders, said he would "always remember" the late actor.

Comedian Frank Carson said: "He was one of my great friends. All of showbusiness will miss him but, thanks to television, he'll never disappear."

The Irish funnyman added a touch of humour to what seemed a very sad occasion marked by visible family grief, telling an anecdote reflecting Reid's earlier career as a stand-up comic.

"God has said: 'Enough's enough, Mike,'" added Carson poignantly.

Mourners gather outside Little Easton church
Mourners endured the rain to hear the funeral service
Comedian Russ Abbot, football agent Eric Hall and boxer Henry Cooper also attended the service.

Reid's agent David Hahn said the star would have made light of the rainy conditions outside the service.

"Knowing Reidy, he would have wanted it to be upbeat and, with the weather the way it is today, he'd be laughing at us."

During the service, Reid's step-son Jimmy called him "a charismatic man and a gentleman to the end".

"He came into my life when I was just eight years of age and my sister was two," he added.

Barbara Windsor's floral tribute
EastEnders co-star Barbara Windsor left a floral tribute
"Up until then, life had not been kind to our family but once he arrived everything changed for the better. When I look back at this time, fun was relentless."

He recalled how Reid would play games with him when he was young and was always there for him.

"He was a big man. Big in stature, big in presence, big in everything.

"When he walked into a room, even before he was famous, people noticed him because of the aura surrounding him.

Pat St Clement
Reid's on-screen wife, Pam St Clement, attended the service
"He will be sadly missed by many, but to our family, and especially to our mother Shirley, his loss is almost too much to bear."

Reid's coffin was taken into the church as his novelty hit single The Ugly Duckling played.

The coffin was followed by Reid's widow, Shirley, who was comforted by family members.

He is due to be cremated in Chelmsford on Wednesday.

Tributes to Mike Reid


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