Paul O'Grady's funeral to feature guard of honour by dogs from beloved Battersea rescue centre

20 April 2023, 06:30

Paul O'Grady will be laid to rest on Thursday with a guard of honour with dogs from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home
Paul O'Grady will be laid to rest on Thursday with a guard of honour with dogs from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Paul O'Grady will be laid to rest on Thursday, with a private service featuring a guard of honour with dogs from Battersea rescue centre and an appearance from the Salvation Army Band.

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Mr O'Grady, who rose to fame with his drag queen alter ego Lily Savage, died "unexpectedly but peacefully" at his home on March 28 at the age of 67.

It was later confirmed that the cause of death was cardiac arrhythmia - believed to be linked to ischemic heart disease - with him previously having had three heart attacks between 2002 and 2014.

The presenter's funeral will take place on Thursday afternoon, featuring a guard of honour with dogs from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home - a special nod to the animal lover.

Mr O'Grady became an ambassador for the animal charity in 2012 and rehomed five dogs while filming his multiple award-winning show Paul O'Grady: For The Love Of Dogs.

Following his death, Battersea set up a "tribute fund" which has raised more than £270,000 for the charity.

Read more: Details of Paul O'Grady's funeral confirmed, as public welcomed to join street procession through Kent

Read more: Paul O'Grady's funeral to be held at animal haven in Kent after his 'unexpected' death at 67

Queen Consort leads tributes to Paul O'Grady

The procession leading to the private service is expected to carry Mr O'Grady's coffin through his home town of Aldington in Kent, with local fans expected to gather along the streets to pay their respects and mourn the TV personality.

It comes after his husband, Andre Portasio, posted in several Facebook groups inviting the local school and community to line the streets.

He expressed his "deep gratitude" for the "overwhelming outpouring of support and love" he had received.

Born in Birkenhead on the Wirral, Merseyside, Mr O'Grady later adopted Kent as his home for more than 20 years ago, with his husband writing: "While the funeral will be a private ceremony, as many of you know, Paul cared a lot about his local community.

"We have therefore requested that the funeral procession passes through Aldington before heading to the church, as a way of marking Paul's affection for the area."

Residents are invited to stand on Roman Road, Forge Hill or New Road Hill between 2.10pm and 2.45pm on Thursday, although Mr Portasio, who married Mr O'Grady in a low-key wedding ceremony in 2017, asked to "respect the villagers and the local area".

The Salvation Army Band is expected to play during the private service on Thursday.

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