A poignant tribute has been paid to a child actor from Skelmanthorpe who died aged three.

Harry Whittaker, who played Leo Dingle in Emmerdale, had Down’s Syndrome. He is the nephew of Huddersfield actress Jodie Whittaker, who starred in the hit drama Broadchurch.

Jodie Whittaker as Beth Latimer in Broadchurch.
Jodie Whittaker as Beth Latimer in Broadchurch.
 

Harry, one of two youngsters to play the part of Leo, filmed his last scenes several weeks ago.

At the end of an episode of the soap there was a simple but moving tribute.

The words: “To Harry, with love” appeared on screen next to a picture of the toddler wearing a spiderman suit.

After the tribute was broadcast Mark Charnock, who plays his on-screen chef dad Marlon, tweeted: “Our hero. We were lucky to know you and hear your laugh. You lit up our lives, dearest, loveliest Harry.”

Tribute to Harry Whittaker on Emmerdale closing credits
Tribute to Harry Whittaker on Emmerdale closing credits
 

After receiving messages of sympathy from fans, Mark added: “Thank you all. We’ll all pass on your overwhelming response to Harry’s amazing family. Thank you for all your kind words. It means a lot.”

The cause of Harry’s death has not been revealed but it is thought to have arisen due to complications linked to Harry’s condition.

Last year Harry’s proud aunt Jodie spoke of her devotion to her nephew as she sported odd socks to mark World Down Syndrome Day.

Jodie, who is also an ambassador for Mencap, said in an interview last year: “As proud aunty to Harry it has been fantastic to be able to help raise awareness for people with learning disabilities.

“All we want is for Harry to grow up in a safe and unprejudiced society where people with Down’s syndrome or any learning disability are given the support and care they need.”

An Emmerdale spokesman said: “Very sadly we can confirm Harry Whittaker’s passing. We will all miss him greatly and have offered our sincerest condolences to his family at this very sad time.”

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