PICTURED: Emmerdale's Ashley Thomas is surrounded by family for his heartbreaking final moments... as his last words to wife Laurel are revealed
His final scenes are due to air on Friday night's episode of Emmerdale.
And a picture from Ashley Thomas' final moments have revealed he will be surrounded by friends and family when he loses his battle to degenerative vascular dementia.
With the vicar (John Middleton) brought home for his final days, the family gather around him to share memories - donning pirate hats in a nod to the pirate ship he built for his children that they use as a drinking den.
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Heartbreaking: A picture from Ashley Thomas' final moments have revealed he will be surrounded by friends and family when he loses his battle to degenerative vascular dementia
In heartbreaking scenes, Ashley regains consciousness for his final moments, able to utter his wife's name 'Laurel' for the first time in months.
In another moment of lucidness, he will look at beloved photographs of his family members before peacefully passing away.
Speaking about the ending, Emmerdale boss Ian MacLeod revealed he believed it was a fitting tribute for the soap stalwart.
Emotional: In heartbreaking Emmerdale scenes on Friday Ashley regains consciousness for his final moments, able to utter his wife's name 'Laurel' for the first time in months
He told the Daily Star: 'When we first talked about doing it there was a tiny bit of anxiety on my own part about whether we were going too far with it or whether people might not think this is what soap is about.
'But it was so firmly rooted in the story and the character of Ashley. The photography in this final episode feels cinematic.
'I hope no-one will think it’s fancy pictures for fancy pictures’ sake, it’s rooted in the story.'
Devastating: New images have been released of Ashley Thomas' funeral, ahead of his heartbreaking departure from Emmerdale later this week
Following the untimely death, the village, alongside Ashley's wife Laurel and his children Gabby and Arthur, are seen fighting back tears as they take their places in the church to bid farewell to Ashley, played by John Middleton.
On the last episode of the beloved ITV soap, Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) had to make the brave decision to take her husband home to die in peace.
Finally losing his battle with dementia later this week, family and friends are seen gathering in church to pay their respects to the late vicar - fighting back their tears as the coffin makes its way to the front.
While his entire family struggle to accept the news, his daughter Gabby (Rosie Bentham) takes it particularly hard - and blames her mother Bernice for not getting enough time to say goodbye properly.
RIP: Finally losing his battle with dementia later this week, family and friends gather in church to pay their respects to the late vicar - fighting back tears as the coffin leads to the front
However the death of course comes as a devastating hit to Laurel, his three children and former love interest Harriet Finch.
Bellamy, who plays his on-screen wife, confessed to Digital Spy that her character suffers most from the shock of losing her husband so suddenly.
She explained: 'Laurel feels numb after Ashley's death and she's on autopilot.
'Laurel wasn't prepared to lose Ashley at all, because she thought they had years left together. He's taken so abruptly and Laurel just wasn't ready for it.'
Goodbye: The emotional installment will mark John Middleton's last ever appearance on the soap, after playing vicar Ashley Thomas for two decades
She then added of the service: 'There's a big turnout at the funeral, but that's no surprise really because Ashley has been such a central part of the village over the years.'
The emotional installment will mark John's last ever appearance on the soap, after playing vicar Ashley for two decades.
On Monday night's episode of Emmerdale it was announced that his character only has days left to live, following his battle with dementia.
Sad scenes: It all came to a head on Monday night's episode of Emmerdale, as it was announced that Ashley - played by John Middleton - only has days left to live
Fans were besides themselves and left in tears by the emotional scenes, which saw Laurel choose to take him home to die so he could be comfortable in his surroundings.
Viewers were inconsolable after the scenes were aired, tweeting: 'This weeks gonna be a tear jerker!! Poor Laurel & Ashley #Emmerdale.'
'Gonna have to buy in 10 boxes of tissues for when Ashley dies :( #emmerdale,' 'So this week is clearly going to be a tear-fest #Emmerdale'.
Heartbreaking: Fans were besides themselves and left in tears by the emotional scenes, which saw his wife Laurel (Charlotte Bellamy) choose to take him home to die
Tragic: For months loyal viewers have watched Ashley battle degenerative vascular dementia
Whilst some viewers remarked the scenes were 'hard to watch', many praised the ITV soap for their handling of the storyline.
'#emmerdale well done it's exactly how my mother passed away in this feb.heartbreaking to watch this but well done to cast & crew.thank you', tweeted one viewer.
His exit storyline has been an emotional one, with the actor revealing that people have been stopping him in the street to say thank you for his moving portrayal of dementia on the ITV soap.
Emotional: Viewers were inconsolable after the scenes were aired, taking to Twitter to vent their grief, with some fans claiming they might not be able to watch this week
The 63-year-old said he was 'immensely proud' of the response that he has received for the heartbreaking scenes.
He told The Mirror: 'People are stopping me in the streets saying thank you for doing this, and that is in many ways the best award.
'Particularly when you are talking to people who have got direct contact with this disease, who have lost loved ones to it, or who are caring for people with it, or people who have the disease.
'They say thank you for portraying it so accurately, so that makes me immensely proud.'
Goodbye: John Middleton will leave Emmerdale this week after playing Ashley Thomas for two decades. He recently revealed members of the public have approached him to thank him
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