Famous faces bid farewell to popular comic Ian 'Sludge' Lees
"A remarkable person. He was the funniest comedian I've ever met."
Comedians and entertainers gave their final, heartfelt tributes to beloved Black Country comic Ian 'Sludge' Lees at his funeral today.
More than 100 family members, friends, TV personalities, and footballers packed St Mary's Church, in Cannock, to say goodbye, including comedians Jasper Carrott and Johnny Carroll, and Wolves legends John Richards and Don Goodman.
The Cannock-born star and stalwart Wolves supporter died on July 30, aged 74, just weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.
He is survived by his partner Diane Mills and four children, Amanda, Daniel, Sophie and Tom.
Emotional and tearful tributes were made by each of his children during the service.
His eldest son Daniel said: "Our dad had presence, timing and the ability to turn all situations into his favour. He was never happier than when we had a room full of people in hysterics."
Youngest son Tom added: "Dad always tried to see the funny side of things. It's his fault too that I had an unhealthy obsession with Wolverhampton Wanderers.
"Some of the best times with dad were at Molineux. It would take us an hour to get round though as people were always stopping him for photos. He really was loved, he was just so kind to others."
Sludge's manager and close friend Jake Elcock called him a 'comedy legend'.
He said: "There are certain comedy routines that will always be associated with him - the Eric Cantana TV sketch for example. Even now every time a football player gets a red card my grandsons still chant 'what they sent him off for?'
"And most of all his boxing routine. No matter how many times you saw it it still brought gales of laughter. 'There was a familiar face in the third row, it was mine! I got knocked down, the ref said get up at nine, I said what time is it now? I was a chicken weight, I always had the stuffing knocked out of me!'
"I guarantee you will never watch a boxing match again without thinking of Sludge."
TV personality and comedian Jasper Carrott arrived in Cannock for the service, and paid tribute to the fellow comic.
"We were this band of comic brothers. we all looked after each other," he said. "I didn't know Ian desperately well but worked with him many a time. He was a great comic and so reliable.
"There's a comedy club up there now. When I get up there I'm going to have trouble getting on the stage.
"I'm here to pay tribute to a very special comedian."
Birmingham comedian Johnny Carroll added: "I loved him. He was a genuinely funny man. He didn't have to work at it, like some others do. He was genuinely funny."
And Black Country entertainer Kenny Craig said: "We had a great camaraderie. They were fabulous days.
"Ian led a great life. We all worked together and he would be so proud to see all of us here. When I last saw him I told him 'it's not goodbye, it's until we meet again'."
A dedicated Wolves supporter, Sludge's funeral was attended by a number of former players, including Mel Eves, Phil Parkes, John Richards and Don Goodman.
His sons wore team scarves over their brightly coloured suits - another tribute to their father - and the flowers that lay on his coffin were the classic colours of old gold and black.