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A religious ceremony with an element of showbiz: Bert Newton's loved ones pay touching tributes to the star at his emotionally-charged funeral

''I have lost a friend and Australia has lost an icon and his family has lost a soulmate.''

By Alana Mazzoni
On a rainy Melbourne morning, 500 mourners packed into St Patrick's Cathedral to farewell one of the greatest television personalities to ever grace Australian TV screens, Bert Newton.
Bert passed away on October 30 aged 83 after a lengthy health battle. In May, the father-of-two's health declined when he had his leg amputated following complications from an infected toe.
Bert and Patti's daughter Lauren and her brood of six kids, sons Monty, Alby and Sam, and daughters Eva, Lola and Perla were all in attendance to say their final goodbyes.
But Bert's funeral was anything but sombre, with his loved ones reminiscing on their fondest memories of the television icon.
Patti and her grandchildren were pictured arriving to the service. (Image: Getty)
The service for Bert, a devout Catholic, began with a welcoming from Very Reverend Werner Utri, Dean of St Patrick's Cathedral.
"I'd like to warmly welcome you here today, those in the cathedral and joining us from afar," he said. "I'd like to begin by acknowledging those with us today, first and foremost his wife Patti, daughter Lauren, son-in-law Matt, and grandchildren.
"Bert's son Matthew and wife Katherine were unable to join us as they are in New York."
Reverend Utri paid tribute to "the many roles [Bert] played in our lives – husband, father, grandfather, colleague, friend, entertainer and as a man of faith."
It was Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews who first confirmed that Bert would be honoured with a state funeral, deeming the late performer an "icon, a larrikin and a born entertainer".
Daniel took to the stage on Friday morning to honour the late TV icon, praising him as a "great entertainer".
"He was always there, omnipresent, on our screens and in our homes. To Australia, Bert wasn't just a man on a screen or an actor on a stage – he was someone we all felt we knew," he said.
"Families were drawn in by Bert's warmth and inviting ease, he was more than talent, he was trust. His story is the story of Australian television."
TV personality and Bert's close friend, Eddie McGuire, gave a heartfelt eulogy saying Bert helped him "handle the spotlight with grace and dignity in class".
"My right life is richer having him as a mate," he told the service. "Rove MacManus said I have lost a friend, and Australia has lost an icon, and his family has lost a soulmate."
Bert's order of service. (Image: Getty)
"In passing, he has been recognised by the Prime minister, afforded a state funeral by his beloved Victoria with the flag of his country draped on his coffin which Patti said he would have loved. The other constant in his life, is Catholic faith, his funeral here at St Patrick's Cathedral."
Matthew wasn't at his father's final farewell in Melbourne this morning since he lives in the US where the pandemic is still raging.
Despite not being there in person, Matthew's touching eulogy for his father was read out on his behalf.
"Dad purely wanted to pop the tension of an awkward situation and see another human being light up and laugh. I honestly believe that that was the thing, apart from his family, that made dad the happiest. It was a superpower and he always tried to use it for good," the eulogy started.
"Over the last 10 years while I've lived abroad, dad and I would play out conversational songs over Zoom and FaceTime, tools that allowed me to connect and in a way reconnect with my whole family, but especially with dad.
Outside the service, Patti consoled her granddaughter. (Image: Getty)
Patti and her grandkids were seen outside St Patrick's Cathedral after the funeral. (Image: Getty)
"Everyone knows he was a great entertainer but what a lot of people don't know about dad was that he wouldn't just be around for the laughs, those close to him experienced how he would show up in the tough times as well.
"One final conversation a few days before we lost him was different from the usual and we both knew it. The change was never directly stated but we just said how much we loved each other. During this wonderful chat, my mother was pottering around in the background, adding her two cents every now and again and doing lovely things for dad, as usual."
Patti previously confirmed their son Matthew won't be at the funeral since he lives in New York City where the pandemic is still raging.
"There was no rift. He's had many long conversations with Bert in the hospital and that was all fine," Patti told Daily Mail Australia last week, shutting down rumours of a feud between the father and son before explaining why Matt "won't be coming" to the funeral.
Patti wept as she carried Bert's coffin out of the cathedral with her daughter Lauren. (Image; Getty)
"It's just the logistics of it all, and with Covid, and with everything else."
Patti shared that Bert passed away due to a difficult road to recovery following his leg amputation.
"It was complications with everything," she said.
"When you have a leg amputated, you have to be on a lot of painkillers, and Bert had had, just this year alone, he's had eight procedures, which all involved anaesthetics, and that affects you pretty badly. Your whole system and just everything closes down really. That was all."
The family said their final farewells as Bert's coffin was taken away. (Image: Getty)
Patti and the Newton family release doves after farewelling Bert. (Image: Getty)

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