Page last updated at 09:28 GMT, Sunday, 5 April 2009 10:28 UK

Goody's fans bid a last farewell

East Angula bouquet on hearse
The funeral celebrated Jade in her own words

By Fiona Pryor
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

"She became a princess in Bermondsey and then a queen in Essex."

These are the words of Jade Goody's publicist Max Clifford as he speaks at her funeral. And they are words many of the thousands of well-wishers outside the church in Buckhurst Hill, Essex probably agree with.

It seems nearly everyone has a Jade Goody story. Even one of the local taxi drivers recalls how he had picked her up in the cab many times before. He tells me I am sitting in her very seat.

The fascination generated by the late reality TV star is evidenced by the many who have travelled from all over the UK to pay their last respects.

Yasmine Kart has been encamped outside the church since late last night, after leaving her home in Wales.

Dressed in a black sweater with 'RIP Jade Goody' emblazoned on the back, she says: "She's taken people's hearts, and I am one of them."

She is not the only person to have donned specially-printed tops for the occasion.

Tribute t-shirts

Many are wearing t-shirts bearing Goody's face and clutching home-made banners of photos cut out from recent copies of OK magazine.

Liam Lawless, from Braintree in Essex, turned up wearing a pink feather boa because he thinks "Jade would have liked it".

He adds: "I think it describes Jade's personality - flamboyant and outgoing."

Liam is a huge fan of the star, who made her name on the Channel 4 show Big Brother.

He says he will miss her "dopey comments" the most.

"I think Jade did a wonderful job doing what she did - entertaining people," he adds.

Crowd watching funeral on screens
Some of the crowd had travelled from as far away as Wales

The atmosphere before the cortege arrives is upbeat, with people happy to stand for several hours waiting just to catch a glimpse of the star's coffin.

Melanie Meiken travelled from Stoke-on-Trent, and says: "People are quite cheery, but to be honest I think that's what she would have wanted."

The morning starts bleakly for a spring day, with dark clouds and the imminent possibility of rain.

However, as the funeral procession approaches the church, blue sky appears and the sun comes out, which some among the crowd liken to Goody herself watching the proceedings.

Although the procession arrives late, no-one seems to mind.

Dark glasses

For some of the mourners the funeral proves to be a perfect time to spot celebrities, with huge cheers and frantic photo-taking as TV presenter Davina McCall and pop star Jamelia turn up.

There is even one small girl waiting at the church gates with an autograph book hoping to meet some of her idols.

Despite that, it seems today is not the day for celebrities to take the usual photo opportunity.

Jamelia and companion arriving at the church
Several celebrities, including singer Jamelia, attended the funeral

McCall, who turns up on foot accompanied by a police officer, opts for huge dark sunglasses to hide her eyes from the public and speaks to nobody as she enters the gates.

Former Blue singer Anthony Costa says he was "absolutely devastated" Goody had gone. "I hope her legacy goes on."

After the service he admits he is "very upset".

Despite everything, it doesn't stop a member of the public from taking a picture of the pop star. "I know it's a sad day, but can you smile please?" asks the fan.

Many try desperately to get on TV by waving at various camera crews and calling home to find out if they can be seen.

It's just like losing my mum all over again
Fan Tina Green

For Tina Green from Dagenham the gathering of Goody's fans compares with the late Princess Diana's funeral in 1997.

"We're going to do just what we did at Diana's and throw these flowers at the hearse," says the mother-of-four, holding up a small bunch of daffodils.

"Her story touched me from the word go. My mum died of cancer when I was 13 and my nan died two years later, so it brought it all home.

"It's just like losing my mum all over again."

Having brought several members of her family with her, Tina is determined to remember the day by recording the whole event "to capture the moment".

Hooded top with R.I.P Jade Goody
Some let their clothing pay tribute

She is not the only one to throw flowers. By the time the hearse carrying Goody's body turns up, it is covered in bouquets.

Amongst them are the floral tributes from Goody's family and friends. The biggest one reads "Jade from Bermondsey".

The other tributes carry messages: "Legend", "Star", "Friend" but it is the tribute that reads "East Angula" [sic] that raises a small chuckle from fans as it reminded them of Goody's notorious comment in the Big Brother House.

As the service starts, the crowd grows silent, but when husband Jack Tweed takes to the pulpit he receives a huge round of applause.

Several people shed tears throughout, but the crowd remains silent, only clapping after each speaker to show their support and remind the congregation they are there.

She's a lovely lady, the children really warmed to her
Claire Muggleton

As the ceremony comes to a close many members of the public are seen holding each other.

'Lovely send off'

As the coffin and hearse pass by the crowds on its way to the burial site, there is an even louder round of applause.

Shouts of "we love you Jade" are heard and more flowers are thrown at the car.

And as the crowd starts to leave some look upset and dab their eyes.

Others seem content they had been there to bid farewell to Goody.

Lisa Casey left her home at 0300 BST to make sure she secured a good spot outside to watch the funeral.

"We wanted to be with her. It's been worth it but my feet are killing me and I want to go home.

"But the atmosphere has been really good. She had a lovely send off."



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