STARS turned out in force, joining almost 200 mourners at Southend Crematorium, to say farewell to local comedian Joe Goodman.

The presence of keyboard player and composer Rick Wakeman, actor and singer Jess Conrad, broadcaster and presenter Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart, EastEnders actor Derek Martin, ventriloquist Roger de Courcy and many more familiar names and faces, ensured the sad occasion also became a memorable celebration of a remarkable life.

Joe, born in Rochford in 1939, was abandoned as a baby in a Laindon shop doorway. He was raised by a strict foster mother, before marrying, raising a family and settling for many years in Southend.

Fittingly, his funeral became an afternoon of laughs and shared personal memories, from the moment the man conducting the service – well-known radio broadcaster Canon Roger Royle – opened proceedings with a call for a round of applause for Joe, his wife Maureen and their family.

It was reminiscent of the response Joe, who died on April 28, aged 75, regularly received during his many years of touring the nation’s theatres, and doing gigs on cruise ships.

A collection at the service was in aid of the Bud Flanagan Leukemia Fund, for which Joe raised substantial sums through charity shows, and through organising and playing in golfing events.

Many copies of his autobiography, Is Anyone Out There? – printed and published in Southend last year – were snapped-up by mourners, at the after-service gathering, at the Saxon Hall Masonic Centre, in Aviation Way.

Profits from these sales will also go to the Bud Flanagan Leukemia Fund.