LONDON, England (CNN) -- Thousands of mourners and well-wishers gathered Saturday at a church east of London for the funeral of controversial reality TV star Jade Goody.
Jade Goody's coffin is carried into church for the funeral service in Essex Saturday.
The 27-year-old lost a public battle with cervical cancer last month, prompting sympathy and headlines around the world.
As Goody's white coffin was carried into the church at Buckhurst Hill, Essex, east of London, a gospel choir began singing "Amazing Grace." Pallbearers included her husband Jack Tweed, whom she married in February.
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Inside the church the congregation heard Tweed read a poem as well as watching a multimedia tribute to Goody's life. View image gallery of Jade Goody's funeral »
Outside thousands of well-wishers gathered in the spring sunshine to watch the funeral service on large TV screens, breaking into spontaneous applause throughout the service. TV pictures showed one young girl with "R.I.P. Jade" drawn on her cheek. Read blog from her funeral
Addressing the congregation Max Clifford, Goody's publicist, said: "She achieved in seven months what doctors, politicians and medical experts can only dream of achieving. Her legacy is a wonderful one. Because of Jade Goody, lots of women have had their lives saved." Watch family and fans pay their last respects »
After the service congregation member Peter Holmes, 28, from St. Albans, north of London, told CNN: "The service was lovely. The funeral was just what Jade was all about. She was a fun-loving person who always lit up a room with a funny comment."
Flowers thrown by well-wishers covered the front of the vintage hearse carrying Goody's coffin as it arrived at the church.
Crowds earlier applauded as the cortege slowly made its way through Bermondsey, south London, where Goody grew up amid deprivation and drug abuse. At one point the procession stopped to release a white dove.
Wreaths included one in the shape of a pink heart, another that resembled a blue handbag and another shaped like a camera -- reflecting Goody's love of the limelight. After the funeral friends and family left for a private burial.
Goody had burst into the spotlight in the British version of "Big Brother" in 2002 but attracted global notoriety five years later when she made racist comments -- for which she later apologized -- to Indian actress Shilpa Shetty.
Well-wisher Vicky Scott, a security consultant from Bedfordshire, central England, waiting outside the church before the service, told CNN: "She had very much to live for and she had achieved so much. She had a tough life and she gave us so much.
"I think she was an inspiration to many women, the way she brought cervical cancer to many women's minds."
Clifford said in comments reported by the Press Association that Goody's mother Jackiey Budden was "distraught" and Tweed was "heartbroken."
Goody's two sons, Bobby, 5, and Freddie, 4, did not attend the service and are believed to have gone to Australia with their father, TV host Jeff Brazier, according to media reports.
Medical officials have reported a big rise in the number of screenings for cervical cancer after Goody's diagnosis was announced live on India's version of "Big Brother" last August, a phenomenon some have dubbed the "Jade Goody effect."
Images of her shrinking frame and bald head dominated the pages of British media after she announced she had just weeks to live.
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown had previously praised Goody's work in raising awareness of cervical cancer. "In many years to come, there will be an awful lot of women who've got an awful lot to thank Jade Goody for," he said.
Despite her weakening state Goody continued to open her door to the media, saying she needed to keep selling her story to help secure the future of her sons.
With Clifford's help, she organized her wedding to boyfriend Tweed, who had only just been released from prison after serving a sentence for assault, selling the exclusive rights to OK! magazine for a reported $970,000. It was also filmed for her reality TV show.
CNN's Peter Wilkinson contributed to this report.