A statue of much-loved comedian and actress Victoria Wood has been unveiled in her home town.
Crowds of fans gathered in Library Gardens, Bury, along with family, friends and colleagues of the late comedy icon to see the two-metre high sculpture.
It depicts her performing with a typical onstage pose, microphone in her right hand, apparently enjoying her audience’s reaction.
The statue took pride of place opposite Bury Library, from which Wood used to steal books because she was too chronically shy to ask a librarian how to join.
Created by Graham Ibbeson, who sculpted a famous memorial to Eric Morecambe, the life-sized bronze statue was a joint project of Bury Council and Wood’s estate and was funded in part by a Crowdfunding appeal set up by her brother Chris Foote Wood.
At the unveiling on Friday, Mr Foote Wood entertained the gathered crowds by donning a yellow beret and orange coat, as worn by Wood in one of her famous comedy sketches, and saying: “I’m looking for my sister, Victoria, have you seen her?”
He said: “It’s been a fantastic privilege to be the brother of the great Victoria Wood.
“I’ve always been in awe of her, I believe quite sincerely that Victoria Wood was one of the greatest entertainment talents ever and it’s great that we can all pay tribute to that.
“She left us a great legacy of performance which we can see in videos and on television but I wanted to see something permanent, something solid to remind us all of her presence, her wonderful character.”
Speaking after the statue was revealed, he told the Press Association: “The love that Victoria Wood fans still have for her comes across in waves.
“It’s been a great feeling for me. I didn’t know how it was going to be received but I would say Victoria is just as much loved and admired as she ever was when she was performing.”
He added: “I imagine now Victoria’s ghost or spirit coming past and having a quiet chuckle when she looks at this vision of herself permanently on display.”
Comedian Ted Robbins, a long-term friend of Wood who worked as the warm-up act on her early shows with Julie Walters, officially unveiled the statue.
He said: ” It’s so moving for me to think I was at the very start of Victoria’s career.”
Robbins described the comic as a “shy show-off” and a “real genius”.
He said the turnout for the unveiling was “absolutely fantastic” and said: “She’d love all the people. She’d love to talk to them and say ‘ooh that’s a nice cagoule’.”
Rev Kate McKenna, of Bury Unitarian Church, asked the crowd to pledge to share some of the joy Wood brought them.
She said: “The joy that Victoria brought to the world in grins, in giggles, in guffaws and in the painful paroxysms of laughter is a blessing.”
A multi Bafta Award-winning comedian, writer and actor, Wood was born in Prestwich and attended Bury Grammar School for Girls.
She died in April 2016, aged 62, following a battle with cancer.
A full weekend of events has been arranged to coincide with the statue unveiling, including a sold-out performance in Bury by her co-stars in her TV sitcom Dinnerladies.