SOLIHULL actress Kathryn Rooney has paid tribute to her ‘great actress and friend’ Lynda Bellingham, who lost her brave battle with cancer this week.
The pair, who became close friends while they were on tour in Calendar Girls, had planned to meet to say goodbye before Lynda passed away.
The much-loved television personality had decided to stop life extending treatment, instead focusing on spending her final months with the people she loved and looking forward to one last Christmas with her family.
But they never got the chance to say goodbye – and Lynda’s Christmas wishes didn’t come true as the died in her husband Michael’s arms on Monday (October 20).
Kathryn and Lynda had worked together for a number of performances including a tour of Calendar Girls and the infamous Birmingham Hippodrome Theatre where Kathryn played Cinderella and had Lynda as her fairy godmother.
Speaking to The Observer this week the former Our Lady of The Wayside RC Primary School said she was devastated and that Lynda would always have a place in her heart.
She added: “Lynda will always have a huge place in my heart.
“Her death is a real sad loss – to the people who knew her and to the acting industry.
“She made everyone feel like they weren’t alone and she treated every person the same – she was such an inspiration.
“It was thanks to Lynda that I was given my big break and for that I am forever grateful.
“Lynda put my name forward for one of the lead roles in Calendar Girls and for her to consider me, a girl from Solihull, for such a huge role was massive.
“Every night on tour I would pinch myself and think ‘I have just seen the oxo lady get naked’ and wonder if what I was doing was real.”
Lynda was an avid supporter of Barnardo’s and the Alzheimers Society and Kathryn said the 66-year-old would have often been doing some sort of fundraising event for charities before matinée performances.
Lynda, best known for her long-running role as a mother in the Oxo TV adverts, had been battling colon cancer since being diagnosed in July 2013.
It was thanks to Lynda that Kathryn went on tour with Calendar Girls across the country. (s)