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Tuesday, April 21, 1998 Published at 05:00 GMT 06:00 UK


Tributes to Linda McCartney
image: [ Linda McCartney's last public appearance was at her daughter Stella's fashion show in Paris ]
Linda McCartney's last public appearance was at her daughter Stella's fashion show in Paris

Watch a report examining Linda McCartney's full but private life
Tributes have poured in for Linda McCartney, the wife of the former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, who has lost her battle against cancer at the age of 56.

Sir Paul was at her bedside when she died on Friday in Santa Barbara, California, it was announced on Sunday. Lady McCartney's breast cancer spread to her liver in March, after appearing to have responded positively to treatment.

[ image: In 1996, Lady Linda said she was fighting breast cancer]
In 1996, Lady Linda said she was fighting breast cancer
A statement from Sir Paul's office asked people to "go veggie" as a tribute to the vegetarian cause she held so dear rather than sending flowers.

He also requested that people who wanted to contribute could donate money to cancer research or animal welfare charities.

Lady McCartney's ashes have been scattered on the farm where she spent many happy years with her husband, according to the Sun newspaper.

Tributes to her were led by the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, who knows Sir Paul although he never met Lady McCartney.

Screenwriter Carla Lane remembers her friend: "We knew people thought we were cranks but we didn't mind"
Mr Blair said from Jerusalem: "Cherie and I are very saddened for Paul and all his family. Linda showed extraordinary courage throughout her illness. She was someone who made a tremendous contribution across a whole range of British life."

One of the former members of Wings, the band formed by Sir Paul in 1978 after the break up of the Beatles which included Lady McCartney in its members, has said he found the news of her death "very saddening". Former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber described Lady McCartney as a "strong, warm and compassionate woman".

John Lennon's wife, Yoko Ono, also expressed her deeply sadness at hearing of Linda McCartney's death. "She's in a state of shock," her New York-based publicist Elliott Mintz said.

McCartney statement

The statement issued by the McCartney family said: "Because Linda was a private person, many people did not know the many sides of her.

"Not only was she a great and natural photographer and a brave campaigner for animal rights who single-handedly made vegetarianism a mainstream diet, she was also an incredible mother and a very loving friend to all who were privileged to know this unique lady.

Delyth Morgan of Breakthrough Cancer Charity tells BBC News 24 that Lady Linda was an inspiration for women
"Linda was not only kind and loving, she was also a courageous and pioneering woman who made stand after stand for those not as strong as herself. For us, her friends, the brightest light has left our lives but she has left us a shining inspiration."

The family's publicist, Geoff Baker, was on Monday morning forced to issue a sternly-worded warning to three newspapers and a press agency to observe Sir Paul's plea for privacy.

He said Sir Paul would not be making any public statement before Thursday at the earliest.

The McCartneys had three children: Mary, Stella and James. Linda also had a daughter Heather from a previous marriage.

Only two days before her death, Lady McCartney and Sir Paul had been enjoying one of their main passions, horse-riding.

A family spokesman said: "The blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn't suffer."

The couple married in 1969 and for a time sang together in the band Wings after the world's most famous pop group, The Beatles, broke up.

No funeral details were immediately available but a memorial service is planned to allow friends to pay their respects.

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