Tributes have been paid to actress Sara Coward, who starred in The Archer’s for 40 years, who has died of cancer.
Coward, who had played Caroline Sterling on the much-loved BBC Radio 4 drama, was diagnosed with terminal cancer last year when she found a lump on her neck and swelling in her right arm, shortly after recovering from breast cancer and a mastectomy.
As well as her regular role in the show, Coward, who was 69 was a writer and stage actor. She also spent eight years working for the Samaritans charity in Stratford-upon-Avon.
Speaking earlier this year from the palliative care home in Leamington Spa where she was being looked after, the star said:“I would prefer it to be over quickly.”
Announcing her death, Archers editor Huw Kennair-Jones said: “Everyone in The Archers family is very sad. Sara was a gifted actress with a unique voice.
“Even when she was navigating the tribulations of Caroline Sterling’s love life, Sara’s deft wit and clever characterisation meant Caroline was never solely defined by her relationships but always as a fully rounded, intriguing woman of substance.
“We will all miss her both professionally and personally.”
Coward made her first appearance in The Archers in 1977 and her last in September 2016. Her character was the owner of the Grey Gables Hotel but was better known for her string of unsuccessful relationships.
She twice appeared alongside royal guests on the show, firstly with Princess Margaret in 1984.
She went on to appear opposite the Duchess of Cornwall when The Archers celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2011.
Isobel Middleton and Ian Pepperell – aka Anna Tregorran and Roy Tucker – were among the Archers actors to pay tribute to their late co-star.
Ms Middleton said: “Very sad to hear of the passing of Sara. A lovely woman, gone too soon.”
While Mr Pepperell Tweeted: “Dearest Sara Coward, may we all remember you for the love you gave, the joy you brought and the laughs and honesty you dealt us. RIP Pepp.”
Annette Badland, who stars in The Archers as Hazel Woolley, tweeted: “Sara was such pleasure to be with. RIP loving, kind, intelligent, funny lady.”
Keri Davies, writer and producer on the programme, said: “Caroline was my first #TheArchers crush, and when I came to work on the programme, Sara Coward was an absolute delight.
“What a loss.”
Susie Riddell, who plays Tracy Horrobin, posted: “So sad to learn of Sara’s death.
“A lovely, graceful and witty woman.”