Damian Lewis paid an emotional tribute to his late wife Helen McCrory on Tuesday night during a poetry performance dedicated to the actress.

"This evening is dedicated to her and it's perfect, because Helen loved the National Theatre.

The show was based on poetry advocate Allie Esiri's latest anthology, A Poet For Every Day Of The Year and featured readings from some of McCrory ’ s colleagues and friends such as Simon Russell Beale, Lesley Sharp, Fay Ripley and Danny Sapani.

Poems performed on the night included comic verse such as Spike Milligan's "You Must Never Bath In An Irish Stew" and the former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy ’ s “ Mrs Icarus ”.

She added : "We dedicated the evening to Helen, and Damian said a few words, but we just wanted to get on and do the show.

"'She loved poetry and I think she would have been pleased to be kind of here with us.

It felt right.

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory were married for 14 years (Image: GETTY)

"damian and helen really helped to get poetry out to people.

When you are stuck at home with Covid but can't quite take on a novel, a lot of people have been turning to poetry.

'tonight we chose poems that will hopefully have chimed with people who have been going through a lot over the last two years."

She told the audience : 'Learning from adversity is something many people have experienced over the past two years during the pandemic.

Damian Lewis and Harry Potter star Helen McCrory have two children together (Image: GETTY)

'My mantra during this difficult time has always been to tell myself "everything is going to be all right". '

The Harry Potter and Peaky Blinders actress died from breast cancer aged 52 nine months ago, with Tuesday marking the first time Lewis has spoken publicly about his loss.

with their daughter manon, 15, and son gulliver, 14, in the audience, lewis maintained his composure as he paid tribute to his wife's friends.

"One person whose thunder would absolutely not be stolen was Helen McCrory," he added.

Damian Lewis joined Allie Esiri on stage at the National theatre to launch her new anthology of poetry A Poet for Every Day of the Year. Both the book and the event were dedicated to Helen McCrory

She has exhorted us to be courageous and not afraid.

As she said repeatedly to the children, 'Don't be sad' ...

'it's what she would have told us to do – "ok, enough already, get on with the show !"

As one of the UK's leading actors, McCrory was known for her roles in Peaky Blinders, James Bond and Harry Potter.

Damian Lewis gave an emotional speech dedicate dot his 'perfect' wife after her death last year (Image: GETTY)

She was awarded an OBE in the 2017 new year honours for services to drama.

The actor read the evening's final verse, the Irish poet Derek Mahon ’ s Everything Is Going to Be All Right.

it included the lines : 'there will be dying, but there is no need to go into that ... the sun rises in spite of everything … everything is going to be all right."

The event concluded with a video of McCrory reading Wild Geese by Mary Oliver at a previous year's event, the Daily Mail reported.

Damian Lewis presided over the event at the National Theatre in memory of his late wife (Image: GETTY)

The star, 50, was leading an evening of poetry dedicated to his wife-of-14-years who died last April following a battle with cancer.

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