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Soap star helps cancer campaign secure a parliamentary debate

The former soap star Julie Hesmondhalgh, who won awards for her sensitive portrayal of cancer sufferer Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, has helped campaigners secure a key debate in parliament.

In response to a 100,000-signature e-petition, MPs are today debating the call for more spending on research into pancreatic cancer.

Our political correspondent Alison Mackenzie reports.

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Pancreatic Cancer Campaign

Last night the nation shed many tears as Coronation street's Hayley Cropper took her life after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

It has been a controversial storyline because of the character's decision to commit suicide but it has also raised the profile of the disease known as the silent killer.

As a result of the story a widow from Scunthorpe has forged a strong friendship with the actress who plays Hayley - leading to a massive boost in her own bid to force a government debate on the topic.

Maggie's e-petition can be found here.

For advice and information on pancreatic cancer, the following websites are available:

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Corrie star backs Scunthorpe widow's campaign

Julie Hesmondhalgh Credit: Press Association

A Scunthorpe widow has become close friends with Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh - because of pancreatic cancer.

Last night millions of TV viewers saw Julie's character Hayley Cropper take her own life after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Mum of one Maggie Watts, 45, lost her own husband Kevin through the same illness in 2009.

The pair became friends, after the Coronation Street star gave support to secretary Maggie's on-line petition to Parliament to raise more awareness about pancreatic cancer.

Last month the two women went on a fact-finding mission to the University of Manchester where scientists are working on a two-year study programme funded by the charity Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

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Pancreatic cancer campaign moves to Parliament

A widow from Scunthorpe is preparing to head to Westminster tomorrow for a debate which she hopes will help in the fight against the disease which killed her husband. Maggie Watts helped raise more than one hundred thousand names on an online petition to force a debate on pancreatic cancer. Her husband Kevin died from the disease five years ago. He was just forty eight. Maggie wants more funding for research.

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Corrie Star to visit Parliament to help cancer cause

Julie Hesmondhalgh left the soap earlier this year Credit: PA Images

Former Coronation Street actress Julie Hesmondhalgh is to attend a debate in Parliament to help raise awareness of pancreatic cancer.

Earlier this year millions of TV viewers watched Julie's on-screen character Hayley Cropper battle the disease.

It led to more than 100,000 people signing a petition calling for the debate.

More on the petition and the campaign.

Hayley Cropper battled the disease on the ITV show Credit: PA Images

Oh what a night! Jersey Boys launch UK tour in Manchester

The Jersey Boys launches in Manchester tonight for the first night of its first ever UK tour.

The hit musical has won no fewer than 55 major awards, including the Olivier for best musical.

The show is about the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and features all their hits including 'Oh what a night', 'Big girls don't cry' and 'Begging'.

Caroline Whitmore went backstage ahead of their first night.

Tribute to Salford writer Shelagh Delaney at her former home

The life of a Salford born writer whose plays shocked a generation has been celebrated today.

Shelagh Delaney was just 18 when she created 'A Taste of Honey' which was staged on Broadway and even made into a film.

It explored themes like unmarried pregnancy and homosexuality which at the time were controversial in society.

Shelagh died three years ago but the artist Harold Riley today unveiled a tribute to his friend.

Ashley Derricott reports.

Plaque unveiled at former home of acclaimed Salford writer

Unveiling of plaque in memory of Salford writer Shelagh Delaney Credit: ITV Granada, Ashley Derricott

A plaque has been unveiled at in memory of Salford writer Shelagh Delaney at her former family home.

Shelagh Delaney

The renowned artist Harold Riley revealed the plaque at the house on the Duchy housing estate where the playwright wrote "A Taste of Honey" when she was just 18 years old.

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