Accrington's woman of the moment Julie Hesmondhalgh has been praised after millions tuned in to watch her emotional final scenes on Coronation Street.
Julie, who played transsexual Hayley Cropper for 16 years, bowed out on Monday night when Hayley ended her life after battling pancreatic cancer.
Her contribution – both on screen and to charity – has been recognised by community leaders.
Mayor of Hyndburn Judith Addison said Julie had been a 'wonderful ambassador' for Accrington.
She said: “I've been a Corrie fan for a long time and I'm really sorry that she's going.
“A lot of people don't bat an eyelid at someone being transsexual, now but when she came on the scene as Hayley it was quite revolutionary.
“I think it's to her credit that she has become a popular character and people have accepted her and her relationship with Roy.”
The Mayor said she was due to mention Julie's contribution, which includes being a patron of charity Maundy Relief, at the full council meeting on Thursday, January 23.
She added: “She really is like a local hero.”
Helen Bishop, of Maundy Relief, echoed the plaudits.
She said: “I think they did the episode very well. It was ever so nice, if you can say that about something so upsetting. From everybody at Maundy we wish her the very best for the future.
“Julie saved us more than once with her fundraising – she's been fantastic.”
After the show was broadcast, Julie tweeted her thanks for ‘incredible” messages of support’.
She added: “Night night Mrs Cropper. Thanks for an incredible 16 years.”
Calls to the Samaritans increased by nearly a third following the climax to Coronation Street's controversial right-to-die plot. The Samaritans said they were pleased they were consulted over the storyline, claiming it was handled in ‘a sensitive way’.
Julie is also urging her Twitter followers to sign a petition calling on the Department of Health to invest more in pancreatic cancer awareness and detection.
The petition has already attracted more than 22,000 signatures and can be viewed at http://
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