01/04/2016 07:33 BST | Updated 01/04/2016 08:11 BST

Ronnie Corbett’s Wife Reveals The Star Had Been Battling Motor Neurone Disease

'No one could have been more courageous.'

Ronnie Corbett had been battling motor neurone disease for over a year, his wife has revealed.

The TV legend died on Thursday surrounded by his family at the age of 85, just a month before he would have celebrated his golden wedding anniversary.

Mark Cuthbert via Getty Images
Ronnie with his wife, Anne

His illness, which only his family and close friends knew about, began around Christmas 2014, when, in the words of Anne, “he started to feel unwell and found it hard to breathe and to lie down”.

Motor Neuron Disease (or ALS) damages parts of the nervous system, meaning that breathing and other muscle activities can become increasingly difficult.

Anne told The Daily Mail: “As you can imagine, it just knocked us both back. We had not really heard of it.

“If it hadn't been for Stephen Hawking [who also suffers from the disease] and the Eddie Redmayne film about him we would not have heard of it at all.”

After a check-up with a consultant cardiologist, the comedian started to use a small ventilator machine which would aid his breathing, which Anne said “transformed things” for the star.

Gareth Cattermole via Getty Images

Anne then took it in turns with daughters Emma, 48, and Sophie, 47, to nurse Ronnie around the clock.

“It became a 24-hour job,” Anne added. “With Ron getting gradually weaker. He was not in pain, and up to the last 48 hours, he was fully conscious and aware of everything.”

Following his death, Anne paid tribute to her "courageous" husband.

She said: “Ron wasn't just my husband, and the love of my life. He was also my best friend.

“Throughout his whole illness, he never once grumbled or complained.

“No one could have been more courageous.”

Tributes flooded in for the ‘Two Ronnies’ star after his death was announced.

David Walliams said it had been “the greatest honour to know and work” with Ronnie, while Julian Clary said he was “a master of his craft and a huge star”.

Ricky Gervais referred to him as a “lovely, funny legend” and actor Russell Crowe thanked him “for all the laughs”.

Photo gallery Ronnie Corbett 1930-2016 See Gallery
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