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Emmerdale stars pay tribute to co-star Kitty McGeever, who's died at 44

(Image credit: PA WIRE)

Emmerdale stars have queued up to pay tribute to their former co-star Kitty McGeever, who has died aged 44 after a long battle with ill health.

Kitty played the character of Lizzie Lakely for four years from 2009 and was the first blind actress to have a starring role in a British soap.

Natalie Anderson (Alicia Metcalfe) was one of many Emmerdale actors who praised Kitty.

RIP the unbelievably wonderful Kitty McGeever. An absolutely incredible inspiring and funny woman whom I was lucky enough to know. #kitty❤️

— Natalie Anderson (@AndersonNatalie) August 17, 2015

Deeply emotional hearing Kitty McGeever passed away. This woman was strength personified. A beautiful generous spirit...

— Rik Makarem (@RikMakarem) August 17, 2015

So sad to hear the news our dear Kitty Mcgeever has died. Never forget the scene's we used to have with her infectious laugh❤ miss you xxx

— Gemma Oaten (@gemmaoaten) August 17, 2015

So, so saddened by the loss of our lovely Kitty McGeever. I feel so lucky to have worked with such a wonderful, hard-working woman.

— Chelsea Halfpenny (@ChelseaHP) August 17, 2015

A spokeswoman for Emmerdale said the actress died on Sunday night, 'surrounded by her loving family'.

The spokeswoman said: "Kitty was a great talent and a true inspiration to all who worked with her. The cast and crew are devastated at her passing and she will be missed tremendously and remembered fondly by all of us."

Kitty, who was born Catherine Mitchell, trained at Rada and her previous TV credits included Beautiful People and London's Burning. She also worked as a stand-up comedian and was a regular performer on the comedy circuit.

The actress lost her sight at the age of 33. She had been diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 19; and developed the life-threatening condition pre-eclampsia while pregnant with her first son, Felix.

She became ill with stress when he developed heart and lung conditions at the age of four months. The stress triggered heart problems, kidney failure and diabetic retinopathy, which eventually resulted in the loss of her sight.

Kitty said: "My kidneys weren't working so my body was filling with fluid and I went into heart failure... I realised there was something wrong with my eyes and went to see the specialist

"They told me I had this condition that would usually take five to 10 years to take my sight, but it took five months because of all the stress."

Emmerdale producer Kate Oates said McGeever was awaiting a kidney transplant when she died. "Sadly she ran out of time on that, but what she did do was donate her liver and also her corneas, so Kitty's family and Kitty have hopefully given the gift of life to someone else through this tragedy, which I think is just a wonderful thing."

Her sister, Caroline, tweeted:

My beautiful, funny, riotous sister Kitty McGeever has left the building. My world will never be the same again. So many kind messages.

— Caroline Mitchell (@cazzamitch) August 17, 2015