A GUARD of honour of uniformed North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) workers formed to welcome the funeral procession of an "inspirational nurse" this morning, Wednesday.

Marilyn Healey, who was affectionately known as "sister" and "mother", worked in her profession for 53 years, where she was based at Leigh Infirmary before serving NHS 111 and NWAS.

The guard of honour which was formed for the funeral procession

She fought bravely against the cancer melanoma for 16 years before she died at the age of 71.

More than 150 people packed out Howe Bridge Crematorium to celebrate Marilyn's life and hear about the legacy she left behind.

She only retired last year due to ill health.

Speaking during the service, Marilyn's son Andrew Healey, 47, said: "Mum was a wonderful, generous lady who was always willing to give everything that she could.

"We have had lots of kind messages and cards which said Mum was an inspiration and that many people went into nursing because of her.

"One of my lasting memories as a child was when Mum was working nights and we had to be quiet during the day. It was instilled in us from a young age.

"She was the type of person who did not want a fuss about her but she has got one today.

"Mum has left a hole for us as a family and those who knew her.

"She has left a lasting legacy.

"I would like to thank everybody who has come today.

"The messages on social media have also been a massive comfort to us all."

Marilyn's coffin is carried into Howe Bridge Crematorium

Tom Jones' song Green, Green Grass of Home was played during the service and prayers were read out by minister Melvyn Knott, which were relevant to Marilyn's life.

Head of urgent care and consultant paramedic at NWAS, Mark Newton, who worked with Marilyn, delivered a eulogy at the service.

He said: "It is an honour to be stood here before you.

"Anyone who has worked in health care will know it is not just a job, it is a way of life

"Marilyn was committed to the calling of being a nurse for more than 50 years.

"We should honour all her immense achievements and remember her years as an exceptional nurse.

"She was a great friend and colleague to many and an inspiration to all of us.

"I remember my wife telling me that Marilyn had a diminutive stature but had an enormous influence on all those around her."

As well as spending time with her family, Marilyn enjoyed going on cruises and loved watching sports on TV.

Minister Melvyn Knott, who led the service, added: "From what we have heard today, Marilyn was supportive, inspirational and hard-working.

"She cared more about the person than the procedure.

"We are so grateful she was that kind of person."

Johnny Mathis' track Unforgettable marked the end of the service with Marilyn's family laying roses on her coffin.

Mourners then made their way to The Subby Club on Pownall Street for a reception.

Marilyn leaves behind her husband of 51 years, Ray, her son Andrew, one daughter and three granddaughters.

Donations at the service will be passed on to the melanoma research department for The Christie NHS Foundation Trust.