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Sir Harry fulfilled fan's last wish

Big-hearted broadcaster Sir Harry Secombe stepped in to save the day when a dying fan asked for one of his obscure tracks to be played at her funeral.

The story emerged 13 years after his death when Julie Bentley, the head of GirlguidingUK, appeared on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs and chose the former Goon Show star's version of the religious standard I Believe.

Ms Bentley, a former youth worker from Essex, told host Kirsty Young her mother had been ill with cancer for several years and had planned her own funeral in detail including the song she wanted playing.

She said: "So I went off to find the song and couldn't find it anywhere and so I wrote to Harry Secombe and extraordinarily I got a reply and he said your mum's right she did hear me singing the song but I haven't actually recorded it but I hope the enclosed is helpful and in the package was an old cassette tape of him singing the song and so I went to Mum and she was just beside herself.

"Firstly she was just beside herself that I would write to Sir Harry Secombe, I mean that's not the sort of thing we did in our family, write to celebrities, but even more of course taken by the fact there had been a response so it was very poignant at her funeral when the song was played and I still have that old tape."

Swansea-born Sir Harry enjoyed success with the surreal humour of the Goons alongside Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers and Michael Bentine and in later life was well-known for presenting religious programmes including Songs of Praise and Highway.

Ms Bentley also chose tracks including Mud's Tiger Feet and 500 Miles by Sonny and Cher and took her photograph albums as her luxury.

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