Sir Cliff Richard to sing as Liverpool says goodbye to Cilla Black

Cilla Black will be laid to rest today as family, friends and fans alike gather to pay their final respects at her funeral in Liverpool.

Sir Cliff Richard will lead the musical tributes to his friend during the Mass at St Mary's Roman Catholic church in Woolton - the same venue where she received a wedding blessing on marrying her much-loved late husband and manager Bobby Willis in 1969.

Entertainers and TV starts Paul O'Grady, Jimmy Tarbuck and Christopher Biggins will give readings during the ceremony, as will he sons Robert and Ben.

Cilla's husband Bobby died in 1999 Credit: PA

When Cilla makes her final return to Liverpool, the city where she took her first steps into show-business, hundreds of fans are expected to line the two mile route to the church and pay their respects as her cortège passes.

During the Catholic requiem mass presided over by the Right Reverend Thomas Williams, Auxiliary Bishop of Liverpool, psalms and biblical readings will be given and Amazing Grace will be among the hymns sung by the church choir.

Cilla's career started in Liverpool at the peak of the Merseybeat era. Credit: PA

Born Priscilla Maria Veronica White, she grew up with her parents and brothers above a barber's shop in the tough dockland district of Scotland Road, the inner-city area ravaged by wartime bombing.

Cilla's first 'performances' were as a youngster standing on a chair during post-pub singsongs with her family in the days long before TV entertainment.

But her big break came after she took a part-time job as a cloakroom girl at The Cavern Club, met The Beatles and their manager Brian Epstein and rose to fame and fortune in the Merseybeat era of the Swinging Sixties.

Younger generations grew up with her as a staple of Saturday night TV, on her long-running popular shows Blind Date and Surprise, Surprise.

Her career spanned six decades before her sudden death, aged 72, after a fall at her villa in Spain on 1st August 2015.

You can watch the service on the ITV News website from 1pm UK time.