Farewell, Pete

Stars including Daniel Day-Lewis, Michael Gambon, Sue Johnstone and Kevin Spacey attend a memorial service for Pete Postlethwaite in London yesterday

Day Lewis, who appeared alongside his friend in the Guildford Four movie In the Name of the Father, led the addresses - and sang to his widow Jacqui.



He told guests at the service: "My great good fortune was to serve an apprenticeship under Pete Postlethwaite."



Grimethorpe Colliery Band, the brass ensemble conducted by Postlethwaite as bandleader Danny in the movie Brassed Off, performed a rousing Danny Boy.



And the actor's own words rang out around the church in Shoreditch, east London, with a recording from AE Housman's A Shropshire Lad.



Postlethwaite, acknowledged as one of the finest actors in the world by director Steven Spielberg, died in January after a lengthy fight with cancer. He is understood to have been diagnosed first in the early 1990s.



His films included The Usual Suspects, The Shipping News, Inception and Romeo + Juliet. Shropshire-based Postlethwaite landed an Oscar nomination for his performance as Guiseppe Conlon in In The Name Of The Father, about the men wrongfully imprisoned for a notorious IRA bomb attack.



Today's service took place at St Leonard's Church in Shoreditch, which is sited fittingly just yards away from the site of one of Britain's first purpose-built theatres. The church's bells are famously mentioned in the nursery rhyme Oranges And Lemons.



Among guests were a number of leading figures from the movie world including Spacey, who played Verbal to Postlethwaite's Kobayashi in The Usual Suspects.



Day Lewis, who spoke without notes, talked of Postlethwaite's peerless ability as an actor and spoke of their days training together at the Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol.



Day Lewis's first professional assignment was as his friend's understudy and their paths crossed many times in later years including 1992's The Last Of The Mohicans. During his address, Day Lewis sang a traditional song to Postlethwaite's widow, Jacqui Morrish.



Other guests included Michael Gambon who shared a stage with Postlethwaite at the RSC, as well as Julie Walters and Matthew Kelly, part of the extraordinary collection of talents in the company of Liverpool's Everyman Theatre in the 70s, which also included Jonathan Pryce and Bill Nighy.



Warrington-born Postlethwaite's son William read a poem written by his father in November while being treated on ward 21 of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, and his daughter Lily told the hundreds of family friends how she felt he was still among them.



Old friend and fellow actor Eamon Boland recalled, to laughter, an episode which saw the pair of them left in charge of a pub, the Salutation Arms, for a fortnight, but drank their way through the stock of Tetley's bitter themselves. They also managed to kill a budgie in their care - and its replacement.



Postlethwaite himself closed the service, when his reading of poem XXVII Is My Team Ploughing? from A Shropshire Lad was played. Poignantly, the poem takes the form of a conversation between a dead youth and a living friend in which he expresses concern for the partner he left behind.



The memorial coincided with the launch today of a new Pete Postlethwaite Memorial Trust, to help young actors at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.



The actor studied at the school and retained links with the theatre throughout his career.



Principal Paul Rummer said: "Bristol was very special to Pete and he considered his time spent at the School to be 'the best years of (his) life'.



"When he was a student here, he was helped by various scholarship funds and his family have generously decided they would like to help the students of today who are in a similar position as Pete was at that time.



"Bristol Old Vic Theatre School continues to train people from the widest social background and so this is an extremely poignant way to continue Pete's legacy and to help those highly talented individuals who might otherwise not be able to afford to train."



Arts and Entertainment
Loading individual letters on to an original Heidelberg printing press
books
Arts and Entertainment
Shades of glory: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend

Glastonbury Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend will perform with Paul Weller as their warm-up act

Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

    'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

    In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
    VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

    How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

    Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
    They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

    Typefaces still matter in the digital age

    A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
    Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

    'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

    New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
    The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

    Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

    Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

    Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

    Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
    Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

    Crisp sales are in decline

    As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
    Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

    Ronald McDonald the muse

    A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
    13 best picnic blankets

    13 best picnic blankets

    Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
    Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

    Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

    Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
    Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

    Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

    On the margins

    From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'