aul O’Grady was laid to rest before a congregation of his closest friends and family following a moving funeral service in Kent.
His coffin was placed next to the grave of his former partner Brendan Murphy, who died in 2005. Mourners then made their way to a wake at Port Lympne Safari Park.
Earlier, the funeral procession passed through Aldington, the village where O’Grady lived for more than 20 years, with hundreds of emotional fans paying their respects to the entertainer with their beloved dogs.
The comedian and drag queen’s husband Andre Portasio was emotional as he rode a carriage drawn by two black horses with one of the couple’s dogs in his lap.
The cortege arrived at St Rumwold’s Church in Bonnington for the funeral service on Thursday afternoon, which was attended by many of O’Grady’s famous friends.
Reverend Canon Roger Martin hosted family and friends including comedian Julian Clary, actress Dame Sheila Hancock, widower of the late Dame Barbara Windsor Scott Mitchell and EastEnders actor Scott Maslen. Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood and comedian Alan Carr were also present.
Reverend Martin said: “The atmosphere was very joyful. There were a few Paul recordings, favorite clips, a good selection of varied music, it was light. It was a moving occasion.
Mr Martin called actor and comedian Julian Clary’s eulogy “very entertaining”.
“He talked a lot about their stage life together,” he said.
The Salvation Army Band played songs such as Tomorrow from the musical Annie – which O’Grady was performing in a touring production at the time of his death.
Comedian and TV presenter Jo Brand arrived with soap star Cheryl Fergison, followed by actress Linda Henry, who plays Shirley Carter in EastEnders.
LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell wore a purple shirt and black tie, while TV presenter Gaby Roslin sported an all-black ensemble as she entered the Grade I listed church.
Personal notes from his family, including his daughter, Sharyn Mousley, were left outside the church tied to wreaths of lilies, in an apparent nod to the star’s famous drag alter ego, Lily Savage.
A bake sale was held outside the Walnut Tree pub in Aldington, with proceeds going to Battersea, with whom he worked closely throughout his life.
Aldington Women’s Institute (WI) president Ginny Taylor, who organized the sale, told the PA news agency: ‘We wanted to honor Paul because he was really part of our village. He was adorable, an absolutely adorable man.
“He was always very committed. He must have been fed up with everyone but he was always good. It’s a real shock just to talk about it.”
WI member Linda Harman said the village’s response had been “phenomenal”.
“We had other celebrities living in the village. It was Paul who gave back,” she said.
Walnut Tree owner Karen Barrett said O’Grady was a regular and was “charming”.
She said: ‘I’m not sure how I feel today to tell you the truth…until it passes and I’m going to cry.
“It will be real. He was just adorable and if you didn’t meet him you were missing out on life. You really did, he was just awesome.
Ms Barrett, who got emotional talking about O’Grady, said she was focused on making sure “the day goes well and he would be proud of us”.
She added: “I moved into the village 22 years ago, at the same time as Paul.”
O’Grady, who rose to fame as Lily Savage before hosting a series of TV shows as himself, died “unexpectedly but peacefully” at his home on March 28 at age 67 years old.
Born in Birkenhead on the Wirral, Merseyside, he then adopted Kent as his home for over 20 years.
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