TRIBUTES to the comedian Sir Ken Dodd, who died on Mothering Sunday, have come from as far afield as the Archbishop of Canterbury and schoolchildren at the primary school close to his home in the Knotty Ash district of his native Liverpool.
Sir Ken was a regular worshipper at both Liverpool Cathedral and his parish church of St John’s, where he had sung in the choir as a boy. The Vicar, the Revd Julia Jesson, was a close friend, who, Sir Ken’s agent, Robert Holmes, said, organised the Registrar to come to his home to conduct his wedding to his long-term partner, Anne — an organist as St John’s — two days before he died.
Ms Jesson said: “Ken was a much loved member of the local community who had Knotty Ash running through his very being. I had the privilege of getting to know him and Anne over the last few months and know what a special person he was. His faith was important to him. The prayers of everyone at St John’s are with him and his family.”
Archbishop Welby posted on Twitter: “Will miss Ken Dodd — he attended Liverpool Cathedral faithfully while I was Dean there [from 2007 to 2011]. Always friendly, always wise, always funny. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.”
The diocese of Liverpool said that it would be announcing details of Sir Ken’s funeral shortly. The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, said: “He was a man with a quiet, deep faith, who was often seen at our cathedral, where he loved quiet and peaceful worship. His gentleness and his sustained commitment to the joy and delight of others will even outlive his jokes. His dedication to our city, and in particular to the Knotty Ash community, was never diluted by his enormous success. He brought joy and delight to millions, and although so many of us are in grief and sorrow here, I’m sure that there will now be a fresh gale of laughter in heaven.”
Sir Ken had offered his services to the previous Bishop, the Rt Revd James Jones, who invited him to address a clergy conference. An Assistant Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Geoff Pearson, said: “Some clergy who spoke to me were a bit dismissive of Ken’s brand of humour. However, I implored them to consider a professional communicator who could hold an audience for several hours.
“Imagine my dismay when Ken started by holding some cards that he nervously looked at. I had never seen him like this. For him it was a brand new audience. However, a few jokes about the bishop and the growing laughter had the audience on his side. Cards were thrown aside and Ken was in the groove. The clergy were eating out of his hand.”
On Monday, pupils at Knotty Ash Primary School, which Sir Ken attended as a child, held an assembly in his honour. The school’s headteacher, Roanne Clements-Bedson, said that his commitment to the school meant a lot to its pupils.
Flags on Liverpool’s public buildings were flown at half mast, and a book of condolence was opened at Liverpool Town Hall.
Outside Sir Ken’s home, floral tributes and his trademark “tickling sticks” were left by fans. Cheryl Taylor, 54, who brought tulips and a rose, said: “The rose is off my mum. She’s 90 this year, so she’s grown up with him. He put Knotty Ash on the map, just a real nice guy.”