Devastated Coleen Nolan has paid tribute to her brave sister Bernie, who sadly lost her battle with cancer on Thursday morning.
“Words fail me at this time, we are heartbroken,” she wrote on Twitter. “But each and every one of your kind comments about out beautiful sister brings great comfort x.”
Coleen was by Bernie’s bedside along with other members of her grieving family, including Bernie’s husband of 17 years Steve Doneath, when she passed away at her home in Surrey.
On Thursday evening, Coleen said, “I am utterly heartbroken. We feel like a light has gone out for ever.”
A statement from the family added, “Bernie passed away peacefully this morning with all of her family around her.
“The entire family are devastated to have lost beloved Bernie, a wonderful wife, adoring mother and loving sister. She is irreplaceable.”
A close friend said, “The whole family are devastated to have lost her. Bernie was the life and soul of that family and I don’t know how they will cope without her.
“Right to the end Bernie never stopped fighting. Even at the weekend she had family round and was making plans and talking about going for a trip home to Blackpool.
“She knew her family were all around her at the end and I’m sure that was a comfort.”
Bernie was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, and after chemotherapy and breast reconstruction thought she had beaten the disease. In February 2012 she announced she was cancer-free only to be tragically told that summer that it had returned to her left breast, brain, lungs, liver and bones.
Her celebrity friends have flocked to pay tribute to the talented star. Lorraine Kelly, who interviewed the singer and actress on a number of occasions, was among the first.
“Bernie Nolan was a very special woman. Brave, funny and hugely talented. She will be sorely missed. Thoughts with her family and friends,” she tweeted.
Loose Women panelist Sherie Hewson wrote, “RIP the wonderfully talented Bernie Nolan, a beautiful person that lit up this sometimes dark world of ours. Sing forever Bernie! x.”
This Morning presenter Phillip Schofield added, “Just heard the very sad news that gorgeous, courageous and inspirational Bernie Nolan has died. Big love to @NolanColeen and all the family x.”
Gary Lineker wrote, “Very sad to hear of the passing of Bernie Nolan. A fabulous and fabulously talented lady. Thoughts are with her family #ripbernie.”
Jennifer Ellison, who worked with the star on Brookside and Calendar Girls, said, “So sad to hear Bernie Nolan has passed away. Such an amazing lady, had the honour of working with her twice, will cherish the memories x.”
Martin Kemp and Jason Donovan were also among those offering their condolences, while Blue’s Duncan James sent his best wishes to Bernie’s beloved 13-year-old daughter Erin.
“So so sad to hear the news about the fabulous Bernie Nolan, who lost her battle with the big C,” he wrote. “Heart goes out to her family, esp Erin. RIP.”