Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders pay tribute to the 'adored' June Whitfield

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Ivor Bennett

Absolutely Fabulous co-stars Joanna Lumley and Jennifer Saunders have joined mourners at the funeral of "national treasure" Dame June Whitfield.

The veteran actress died "peacefully" last month at the age of 93.

Family and friends had been asked to wear bright colours for the service at All Hallows Church in Tillington, near Petworth, West Sussex.

Speaking after the service, Joanna Lumley said Dame June was "adored".

She added: "It was perfect for June, it was filled with love, the feeling in the church was more like a wedding before it started.

"It was moving and funny and touching and gorgeous and by the end of it we were all crying, which is just what happens, and we were just so proud to be here."

The coffin of June Whitfield is carried out of All Hallows Church in Tillington. Credit: PA

Dame June’s daughter, Suzy Aitchison, who starred in Jam & Jerusalem, said: "I am delighted so many people could be here, it’s a lovely day and everyone has been so helpful and lovely.

"I think she would have been overwhelmed.

"We are trying to have a celebration of life, that is why we are so brightly dressed – Mum asked for us to wear bright, lovely attire."

Suzy Aitchison, daughter of Dame June Whitfield, arrives for her mother’s funeral Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Reverend Debbie Smith, who led the service, said: "We are holding the balance between June as just a wonderful woman who was part of this community and contributed wonderfully, as well as having a public face as well."

She told the congregation: "She is remembered as an adorable, much-loved woman, known as a national treasure, a role model to many."

A selection of Dame June’s favourite music was played, including tunes by Gershwin and Porter sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole and Judy Garland.

The order of service for Dame June Whitfield’s funeral in Tillington, West Sussex. Credit: PA

Her wicker casket was covered in bright flowers.

The poem She Is Gone by David Harkins was read by Dame June’s granddaughter, Bianca Quinn, before a eulogy by Roy Hudd with whom Dame June appeared on radio for many years.

He said: "She was that rare bird - a goody that looked magical. I had a 35-year course in comedy from the very best."

Roy Hudd, who gave a eulogy at the service, and his wife Debbie were among the mourners. Credit: PA

This was followed by a eulogy by Ms Aitchison, referred to by her married name of Suzy Quinn, called Memories of Mum.

She said: "Mum was not special, she was very special, not because she was super-talented and fantastic but in spite of it.

"She was known as lovely, approachable, kind, supporting, effervescent, funny and beautiful. Everyone loved her and she loved everyone."

She added: "I am just happy you passed away peacefully in your sleep, as you wanted, and now you are going to rest with Dad.

"You had the perfect end to your wonderful life, no-one could have written your final exit better, no-one could have written you better, you will always be much-loved, missed and unforgettable."

The service concluded with the hymn Jerusalem and Get Happy sung by Judy Garland.

The order of service featured a photo from the engagement of the actress and her husband, Tim Aitchison Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

The order of service featured an engagement photograph of Dame June with husband Tim Aitchison, who died in 2001.

Donations in Dame June’s memory were requested for Age UK.

During her career spanning eight decades in show-business, Dame June tackled bawdy comedy in the Carry On films, and starred in the long-running sitcom Terry And June, as well as playing the grandmother in Absolutely Fabulous.