Eamonn Holmes funeral tribute to This Morning agony aunt Denise Robertson
Eamonn Holmes paid a heartfelt tribute to "national treasure" Denise Robertson as he joined family and friends at the agony aunt's funeral yesterday.
The Belfast broadcaster and wife Ruth Lansgford joined fellow This Morning presenters Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby at Sunderland Minster as mourners paid their final respects to the 83-year-old.
Denise, who won a place in millions of viewers' hearts with her no-nonsense yet warm approach, died of pancreatic cancer.
At the service Holmes spoke movingly of the colleague he had known since the 1980s.
"Never was there a more shrewd judge of character," he said. "She could spot a fake at a hundred paces. (She was) a mum, an aunt, a best friend, a shoulder to cry on and a friend for life. For 28 seasons at ITV, a record in itself, the glass lens never tired of Denise Robertson. She was the real deal."
Langsford also paid tribute to her colleague's love of bright colours and recalled her "wafting" fragrantly down the corridors of the TV studios.
Holmes added: "She was a national treasure. I don't think we will see anything like that again. No one expects to have a gig as long as she did."
Before the service, Holmes - walking with crutches after his double hip replacement - revealed he had followed Denise's advice to marry Langsford, to get a dog and to have his hips fixed. "It's very difficult to believe we will go into work on Friday and she will not be there," he added.
An emotional Schofield said before the funeral how he was desperate for Denise's approval when he joined This Morning.
"She was feisty, really, really tenacious and would power through authority," he added.
And Willoughby said: "She was an incredible person and a great friend. She was also a remarkable woman. She blazed her way through life and never let anything hold her back."
Robertson played a crucial role in the popularity of This Morning from its first broadcast in 1988.
She was widowed twice - losing first husband Alex to cancer in 1972 and then Jack to a stroke in 1995. She also lost her 44-year-old stepson John to cancer in 2006. She was awarded an MBE a decade ago and given the freedom of the city of Sunderland.