MORE THAN 500 family, friends and fans gathered to say goodbye to much-loved author Sue Townsend in her home city.
Townsend, who achieved worldwide success with the publication of The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 in 1982, died after suffering a stroke on April 10. She was 68.
Actor Stephen Mangan, who played Adrian Mole in a 2001 television adaptation of the book, was among those gathered at De Montfort Hall in Leicester.
There were readings from the author’s works and tributes from friends and colleagues from the literary world, Leicester theatres and the mayor of Leicester, Sir Peter Soulsby.
Mangan read from Mr Bevan’s Dream while actor Tony Howes read from The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4.
Townsend’s second husband Colin Broadway and her four children, Sean, Daniel, Victoria and Elizabeth, were also at the service.
It was revealed during the service that the former Phoenix Theatre in the city, where Townsend joined a writers’ group in her 30s, is to be renamed the Sue Townsend Theatre in her honour.
Mr Soulsby, who made the announcement, told the congregation the author was “firmly rooted in Leicester” and had championed the city in her works.
“Despite her enormous national and international success she never once lost her warmth or humanity and she never deserted her city, Mr Soulsby said.
“Sue was very much perceived as a local treasure.”
Author and journalist Nicci Gerrard led the service which celebrated the life and works of the author, who was born in Leicester in 1946.
Townsend left school at the age of 15, married at 18 and by 23 was a single parent with three children. The Secret Diary Of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 was published in 1982 and was an instant hit, going on to sell more than 20 million copies around the world.