Wigan teacher's tribute to friend Sir Ken Dodd
A Wigan teacher who struck up a friendship with comedian Sir Ken Dodd has spoken of the 'lovely' and 'humble' man.
Gill Davies said she had been celebrating the funnyman’s life with pupils at Hope School, rather than mourning his death on Sunday.
Related: Why Wiganers loved Ken Dodd
The pair first met on Christmas Eve in 2013 while attending a service at Liverpool Cathedral.
They stayed in touch and Sir Ken officially opened The Grange Community Centre, under the management of the school, in 2014.
Gill said: “We struck up a very genuine friendship. He was interested in the work I do at Hope School and said he would like to support us in any way he can, so he did.
“He came free of charge and opened the community centre. He had a genuine interest in our children as well.
“He was a lovely, lovely, humble man.”
The pair then sat together every year during the service at Liverpool Cathedral, though Sir Ken did not attend in 2017 due to ill health.
He sent her and other teachers tickets to his shows and did what he could to support the school.
Gill said she regularly sings his song Happiness in the classroom and pupils had been singing it in his honour after his death.
The 90-year-old funnyman, known for his unruly hair and teeth, performed his final show in Liverpool - his native city - on December 28.
But all 2018 dates had to be cancelled due to illness.
He regularly performed in the borough and was named an “honorary Leyther” after turning on the town’s Christmas lights for seven consecutive years in the early 1990s and 2000s.
He referred to Wigan in some of his jokes and had tried out material at Wigan Little Theatre years ago.
Sir Ken caused a stir in 1997 when he stunned staff at Hill’s Florist in Orrell by calling in to buy flowers. At the time, proprietor Ted Hill said: “We couldn’t believe it.
“There we all were, going about our business and in walks Ken Dodd.
“Our jaws practically dropped on to the floor when he walked through the door.”
Apparently he was driving through Orrell when he noticed the shop and decided to pop in for some flowers.
Ted added: “He told us he thought the shop looked lovely and he shook everyone’s hand and chatted with us for about 10 minutes.
“Then he bought a bunch of flowers for Â£50 and left. But he promised us he would call again.”
But Ted, who were Doddy’s flowers for?