Sue Townsend funeral: Mourners pay tribute to the celebrated Adrian Mole author

Hundreds gathered in remembrance of the late author

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The Independent Online

Sue Townsend was remembered today as hundreds of mourners paid tribute to the late author at her funeral, held in her hometown, Leicester.

The ceremony was hosted at the 1,500-seat De Montfort Hall this afternoon and was shown on a big screen outside. The service will be followed by a private family cremation.

The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole author died on 11 April, aged 68, after a short illness. She was diagnosed with diabetes in the Eighties, which eventually caused her to go blind, and underwent a kidney transplant in 2009. She had suffered a stroke in December 2012.

Actor Steve Mangan, who played Adrian Mole in a television adaptation, read an extract from Townsend's book, Mr Bevan's Dream, a work on the decline of the welfare state in the Eighties.

The Mayor of Leicester Sir Peter Soulsby also paid tribute, announcing that the city's Phoenix Theatre will be renamed the Sue Townsend Theatre - a venue that the novelist had a close relationship with, having once been its writer in residence.


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The De Montfort Hall in Leicester

Author and journalist Nicci Gerrard, who met Townsend on several occasions, led the funeral as a humanist celebrant. She also interviewed the late writer for The Observer just before she went blind.

“I was terrifically impressed by her,” Gerrard told the BBC ahead of the funeral. “She was both full of grief and full of dark humour and laughter about it.

"She never let life beat her, she took life and dragged it with her. She had this extraordinary life force and she was funny in the midst of all of it.

"She was terrifically successful but never let the success go to her head."

Townsend shot to literary fame with her 1984 The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, before Adrian Mole: The Prostrate Years, was released in 2009. She is also known for The Woman Who Went to Bed for a Year and The Queen and I.

Steve Mangan arrives at the service

Among one of the first mourners to arrive today was disability campaigner Andy Morris, from Leicester.

"We've come to pay tribute to a lady of Leicester. She was an absolute gem," he said. "Her books were known throughout the world, but she never seemed to forget her roots. She put Leicester on the map."

Read more: Sue Townsend interview
Sue Townsend dies aged 68
Sue Townsend's most quotable moments