Battersea dogs to form guard of honour ahead of Paul O’Grady’s funeral
aul O’Grady will be laid to rest on Thursday with a private service featuring a guard of honour with dogs from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home and an appearance from the Salvation Army Band.
O’Grady, who rose to fame as his platinum wig-wearing drag queen alter ego Lily Savage before going on to host a string of television programmes, died “unexpectedly but peacefully” at his home on March 28 at the age of 67.
The funeral of the comedy and TV stalwart will take place on Thursday afternoon, featuring a guard of honour with dogs from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, in a special nod to O’Grady who became an ambassador for the animal charity in 2012 and rehomed five dogs while filming his multiple award-winning ITV 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.
On Thursday, the procession leading to the private service is expected to carry 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 O’Grady’s husband Andre Portasio posted in local Facebook groups inviting the local school and community to line the streets to mourn the comedian, expressing his “deep gratitude” for the “overwhelming outpouring of support and love” he has received in the wake of O’Grady’s death.
Born in Birkenhead on the Wirral, Merseyside, 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 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.
Following the death of O’Grady, names from across the drag world including Divina de Campo, The Vivienne, Cheryl Hole and Cheddar Gorgeous led tributes alongside those praising his advocacy for LGBT+ equality including former Labour politician and campaigner Peter Tatchell and fellow comedian and actor Eddie Izzard.