Over ten thousand mourners attended the memorial service for legendary Hong Kong entertainer Lydia Sum (沈殿霞), held this afternoon at the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom.
Friends, fans, colleagues and other celebrities joined members of the general public in an official celebration of Lydia's life and also to say their final goodbyes. Floral tributes and messages were also sent from those who could not attend and these were displayed at the venue.
The ceremony was led by two of Lydia's hosting colleagues, Eric Tsang (曾志偉) and Tang Chi Fung (鄧梓峰), and was attended by Lydia's closest family members, including her daughter Joyce Cheng (鄭欣宜) and her ex-husband Adam Cheng (鄭少秋). Adam had returned from filming in Hengdian yesterday especially to attend the ceremony and had revealed he had been in close contact with Joyce since Lydia's death, refuting the press reports that he had been neglecting his responsibilities.
On the stage, portraits depicting some of Lydia's many smiling expressions, were supported by heart shaped floral wreaths presented by her family and closest friends. The display emanated an air of warmth and joy that was the the trademark of the star's bubbly and vivacious personality and helped the audience to put aside their feelings of sadness for a little while.
The ceremony opened with some clips from Lydia's lifetime, including some quotes made by her on aspects of her life.
"I was the sixth child in my family... because I brought three younger brothers, my parents felt I was lucky for them, so they spoiled me. When I said I wanted to be a movie star, my mother took me to the auditions without telling my father."
Some statistics about her achievements were also detailed. She appeared in ten television series, 134 stage shows, released 41 records and amassed over 15,000 hours of performances.
A clip of Lydia talking about meeting the most important man in her life in 1985 and the birth of her daughter in 1987 was also shown.
"When you love someone, you will see nothing else and become willing to do anything. Before I had my child, I did not know, but when I did, I found out the feeling of longing. Having her was better than having anything else. If I had to keep just one memory, it would be the moment that Joyce was born."
The final excerpt showed Lydia giving a personal thank you to her friends.
"I feel that I am a very fortunate person. I have many friends and I have known them for many decades. They love me and care for me and I would like to say to them - thank you."
Footage of Lydia's funeral, which took place on 27 February in Vancouver's Forest Lawn Memorial Park, was then shown along with pictures of all the flowers and wreaths that had been sent from her friends, including many familiar names, such as Paula Tsui (徐小鳳), Jacky Cheung (張學友), Tam Ping-man (譚炳文) and Alex Man (萬梓良).
Lydia's younger brother was first to be featured in the video tribute to his sister, speaking on behalf of all her siblings. He spoke of his sister as "a happy flower" and how she had insisted on returning to Hong Kong after being diagnosed with terminal cancer because she did not want to be apart from Joyce. He said that seeing her grow thinner and thinner after each round of chemotherapy made the family all very upset, but they were comforted in knowing that she had many friends beside her to support her tirelessly.
He went on to thank Lydia's friends, Florence Chan (陳淑芬), Mrs Chang (張徹太太) and Chan Ka Ho (陳嘉豪) for all the help and support they had shown to Lydia in her final days.
He ended the tribute by saying how proud all of Lydia's brothers and sisters were of her and thanking her for all the joy that she had brought to their lives.
Other video tributes came from people who had worked closely with Lydia over the years, including representatives from the community organisations in Canada that Lydia had contributed to in the past and her close friends, Jin Fei (金菲) and Florence.
The eulogy given by Joyce at Lydia's funeral, where she referred to her mother as "my shooting star" was then shown and the touching speech brought tears to every pair of eyes in the audience. This was followed by a moment's silent reflection before the broadcast was ended and the mourners were asked to be seated.
Tributes were then given by Lydia's consultant Professor Chung-mau Lo (盧寵茂), Mr Timothy Fok JP (霍震霆), Mr Lawrence Yu JP (余錦基), TVB General Manager Stephen Chan (陳志雲), veteran actress Maggie Lee (李琳琳), Hu Chin (胡錦) and music mentor Liu Jia Chang (劉家昌). Elisa Chan (陳潔靈) also performed the song "Shining Star" <明星> in Lydia's honour.
MC's Eric and Tang then gave the closing tribute and spoke of how Vancouver's mayor has declared that a "Lydia Sum Day" will be held in her honour on 01 June 2008. They also spoken about their own experiences and memories of working with Lydia and shared sentiments on behalf of the many people who had already paid tribute to Lydia.
Eric spoke about Lydia's final public appearance on TVB's anniversary awards show last year.
"Lydia knew she was going to receive an award, so she arrived at the studio four and a half hours early. She was made-up and dressed early and the producer had arranged for a bed to be placed in the dressing room for her to rest before her appearance. When she arrived, she said 'I am so happy, I feel like I have come home.' TVB was her home, colleagues were her family.
"In the moments before she went on stage, she suddenly started shaking and held onto a crew member's hand. I was very nervous too, because these things never happened to Lydia, but I understood that this could be her final appearance on stage and the last time she could express her feelings to the audience."
He ended with a fitting summary of Lydia's lifetime and her achievements.
"Respect for one's occupation and hard work - this was not only Lydia's spirit, but also that of the Hong Kong people. Lydia will always be the friend of the Hong Kong people and also their pride.... Only Lydia could have achieved the feat of being the good friend of the Hong Kong people, an artiste respected by people all over the world and someone who really represented the Hong Kong spirit. I hope we can put our sadness aside and learn from her, especially those in the performing arts and the new generation of Hong Kong people -doing our best to uphold the Hong Kong spirit. I hope that I can represent all our colleagues, friends and Hong Kong's citizens in wishing Lydia joy and happiness in paradise. Lydia - Thank you."
An address was made by Joyce to close the ceremony, thanking everyone for attending the service and remembering her mother.
"I would like to start by thanking all our friends who are present, all the friends who have always supported my mother on the television and all of my mother's old pals for gathering here today to remember my mother. Mum was a very good actress, her professional spirit and conscientious attitude is worth learning from. She was also a great mother. I am not as good at speaking as she was, so I will not say too much. However, with so many people here today to wish her well, then even if she is playing mah jong in heaven, she will still hear them and will thank everyone for your thoughts. I hope that after this memorial service, everyone can remember my mother's laughter and conscientiousness and remember it in your heart. That way, she will forever be there in your heart. Thank you."
A final clip was shown of Joyce singing a duet of the song "Ajoined Hearts" <連心> and guests were invited to present their flowers as a parting mark of respect for Lydia.
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