'There will never be another Paul O'Grady': Mourners arrive in Aldington to pay respects to TV star

Thousands are expected to line the streets for Paul O'Grady's funeral procession. Credit: ITV Meridian / PA

People have begun to gather in the village of Aldington today (Thursday 20 April) ahead of Paul O'Grady's funeral this afternoon.

The first mourners could be seen lining up on streets around the Kent village to pay their respects to the TV star, ahead of his funeral procession.

Thousands are expected to travel to Aldington to mourn Paul O'Grady, after his husband Andre Portasio posted in local Facebook groups inviting the local school and community to line the streets to mourn the comedian.

Those who wish to pay their respects were invited to stand on Roman Road, Forge Hill or New Road Hill between 2.10pm and 2.45pm.

A bake sale has been set up at the local pub. Credit: ITV Meridian

Karen and Paula, two sisters from Kent, travelled to Aldington to pay their respects to Paul, who they used to see in Waitrose Hythe.

Both were devastated by O'Grady's death and felt compelled to turn out for the beloved TV star.

Paul used to stop and talk to anyone and everyone, they told an ITV Meridian reporter. He made it his business to get to know people they added.

"He certainly wasn't a diva!", Karen said.

"Wherever he went he always had that cheeky smile, he was so down to earth", Paul told us.

"He was one of us... he is irreplaceable, there will never be another Paul O'Grady - lovely man."

Karen and Paula felt compelled to pay their respects to a 'great man', they told us.

Lynn Heathfield, who travelled from Sittingbourne, was one of the first to line up for Paul's procession later today.

Lynn, who lost her husband last year, said she had travelled to Aldington because he, like Paul, was an animal lover.

"I thought Paul was a lovely man", she said. "He has done lots for Battersea, lots for the community and he loved Kent!"

"Myself and my husband have got three rescue dogs... I lost my husband last year and I know he would have been here to pay his respects and that's why I'm here."

Lynn Heathfield spoke with ITV Meridian about why she travelled to Aldington.

Paul was renowned for his love of animals and spent years working with Battersea to rehome dogs and cats.

In his honour Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has confirmed there will be a 'guard of honour' which will include six dogs that Paul helped whilst working with the charity.

Hundreds more animals are expected to attend, as mourners have been encouraged to bring their four legged friends with them to pay their respects.

ITV Meridian met one woman who had brought her cat with her, as a show of respect for Paul.

Mourners are expected to travel from far and wide to attend the funeral procession. Credit: ITV Meridian

A bake sale has also been set up at the village pub, the Walnut Tree, with all funds being donated to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.

Paul was a supporter of the charity and the local pub, and the organisers hope that thousands of pounds will be raised in his memory.

Hundreds are expected to descend on the pub, which is appropriately dog friendly, throughout the day.

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