People of Rochdale pay tribute to Sir Cyril Smith

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The Independent Online

Hundreds of mourners will attend a funeral service later today for Sir Cyril Smith in his beloved home town of Rochdale.







The service will also be a celebration of the life of the veteran politician who served the town as MP for 20 years.



Beginning at noon at Rochdale Town Hall, it will be attended by 400 special guests and addresses will be broadcast over loud speakers for people who do not manage to get a seat.



A smaller service at Rochdale Crematorium will be held later for close friends and family.



Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg led tributes to the "larger-than-life" politician, who at times weighed up to 29 stone.



He died a week last Friday, at the age of 82.



Sir Cyril served as the Liberal and later Liberal Democrat MP for Rochdale between 1972 and 1992.



Famously outspoken, with what some would call a typical Northern bluntness, he could be disdainful of Westminster, once branding Parliament as "the longest running farce in the West End".



From humble beginnings in Rochdale, he won a scholarship to the local grammar school and honed his debating skills at the local Unitarian Church.



He became Rochdale's mayor, the life-long bachelor making his mother Mayoress, before being elected its MP in 1972.



Sir Cyril rose to become party spokesman on employment and chief whip but his fierce independence prevented calls for him to stand as the party leader, his first loyalty always being to his hometown of Rochdale where, together with John Bright and Gracie Fields, he is remembered as one of its proudest natives.



He was made an MBE for his public services in 1966 and was knighted in 1988 before finally retiring from Westminster in 1992.

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