17/08/2015 14:42 BST | Updated 18/08/2015 12:59 BST

Kitty McGeever Dead: First Ever Blind Soap Actress Dies, Aged 44

‘Emmerdale’ actress Kitty McGeever has died, a spokesperson from the soap has confirmed.

MORE: 'Emmerdale' Cast And Crew Pay tribute To Kitty McGeever

The actress played Lizzie Lakely until March 2013, when she was forced to quit due to illness.

kitty mcgeever

Kitty McGeever

Kitty was the first ever, blind British soap star and the show’s bosses have paid tribute to the actress.

In a statement issued to Digital Spy, an ‘Emmerdale’ spokesperson says: "It is with much sadness that ‘Emmerdale’ confirms actress Kitty McGeever, who played the character of Lizzie Lakely, passed away last night, surrounded by her loving family.

"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."

Lizzie was a huge hit with fans during her years in the Dales, and her feisty nature and mischievous tendencies resulted in many hilarious plot developments.

A number of ‘Emmerdale’ stars have rushed to pay their respects on Twitter, including Danny Miller, who stars as Aaron:

Kitty joined the ‘Emmerdale’ cast in 2009, and her other on-screen credits including ‘London’s Burning’.

The star also did a huge amount of good work off-screen and in 2013, she voiced her support for a campaign promoting and celebrating positive role models for people with disabilities.

It's since emerged that Kitty could end up saving lives after her death after it was revealed that she has donated her liver and corneas, in a final act of kindness.

Speaking about the actress, Emmerdale’s producer Kate Oates said: "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.

"She became friends with everybody, she was a real social butterfly – just this huge, huge presence. That’s what was really groundbreaking about her."

She added: "The word “inspiration” is banded around far too often but for Kitty there is no better word for her, she was just amazing."

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