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|Portrayed by||Lisa Williamson|
|First appearance||23 October 1995|
|Last appearance||25 December 1997|
|Created by||Phil Redmond|
|Introduced by||Phil Redmond|
Dawn Cunningham is a fictional character from the British Channel 4 soap opera, Hollyoaks, played by Lisa Williamson. Williamson was cast as one of the original characters on Hollyoaks in 1995, and was the first member of the Cunningham family to arrive in the village, before the introduction of her family. However, she left in 1997 when the character died following a battle with leukemia.
Dawn is described as "spirited, independent and friendly to everyone ... her friends could always rely on Dawn for a shoulder to cry on". The Liverpool Echo described her as an "easy-going interior designer. She was someone who had time for everyone and a shoulder to cry on." The Independent described her as the "equally stunning" friend of Natasha and questioned how she could "wild weekends and the emotional demands of a divorced mother with a toyboy?" before questioning if anyone "Will anyone care?"
Dawn was the eldest of Gordon and Angela Cunningham's children. At sixteen, Dawn had embarked on an affair with her best friend Ruth Osborne's father Jack. She had fallen pregnant and had Beth Cunningham, who she then put up for adoption. After this, Dawn spent time in her life to track down her daughter but to no avail.
The eldest of the Cunningham children, Dawn went to school with Ruth Osborne. They were best friends until Ruth found out about Dawn's affair with her father. Ruth's reaction was that she did not want to see Dawn ever again. When she was sixteen, before the series started, Dawn had a relationship with Jack which resulted in a teenage pregnancy. After putting the child Beth up for adoption she later spent much effort tracking her down, only to discover her in need of a kidney transplant, which resulted in a plea to Jack and the breakdown of his first marriage.
Spirited, independent and friendly to everyone, Dawn was Natasha Anderson's best friend. She worked at Maddie Parker's mother's interior design shop and had continual problems with her mother's boyfriend, Terry, but refused to let anything get her down. However, Natasha died after Rob Hawthorne spiked her drink with drugs at Lucy Benson's 18th birthday party. Dawn was so distressed that she confessed to her friend, Jambo Bolton, that at sixteen she had a daughter whom she gave up for adoption. Jambo then got in contact with Dawn's daughter and Dawn plucked up the courage to go and see her. Dawn watched her from a distance whilst Jambo stood close by to provide her with a shoulder to cry on. Dawn then discovered that her mother, Angela, had breast cancer; upset by the news of her mother's condition, Dawn turned to Jambo. The pair ended up kissing, but Dawn insisted that they should remain friends. Dawn then found out that Terry had run off, leaving her mother in debts of over £55,000. Dawn's bad luck continued when she learnt that her daughter Bethany had kidney failure and she was her last hope. However, Dawn found out she wasn't compatible, so her father Gordon offered her his kidney instead. However, Gordon also failed as a match for Dawn's daughter so she had to contact Jack Osborne. Jack was shocked as he had not known about the pregnancy but was a match and had the operation. Jambo and Dawn realised they loved each other but their happiness was short-lived. Dawn soon felt unwell and visited her doctor, only to discover that she had leukaemia. When Ruth found out her illness, she forgives Dawn for her affair with her father. On Christmas Day, Jambo and Dawn hired a rowing boat and Jambo asked Dawn to marry him. Dawn, however, lost her battle with leukaemia and died in his arms, the same day her niece Holly is born.
In 2016, Cindy mentioned to Mac, Marnie, Nathan, Ellie , her son Alfie Nightingale , Neeta and Rachel Hardy that her sister Dawn had leukemia, but didn't survive. She later mentioned this to her husband Dirk. In October 2016, when Jude returns to the village, she mentions this to Jack, about him and Dawn. Jack later mentions this to Jade, his wife Frankie, Darren and Nancy of his affair with Dawn.
The Daily Record said on the show "Favourites have to be Jude's sickly- sweet sister Dawn, whose untimely death caused much distress". They also commented on the character's death saying "When there's a problem with a character in Hollyoaks, they just kill them off."
- Evans, Matthew (2002). Phil Redmond's Hollyoaks: the official companion. Channel 4. p. 10. ISBN 0-7522-2000-4.
- "We love to turn it on 5 times a week (but whatever happened to the original stars of Hollyoaks); Today the Mersey teen soap Hollyoaks celebrates its 10th birthday. TV editor Peter Grant reports.". Liverpool Echo. 21 October 2005. Retrieved 4 September 2011.
- Morton, Cole (22 October 1995). "Hard man of Brookside moves into soft soap". The Independent. (Independent Print Ltd). Retrieved 8 September 2011.
- "Rise and rise of Hollyoaks". Daily Record (Scotland). 18 March 2000. Retrieved 2 September 2011.
- "Television: Soap watch; Fight to death in Hollyoaks.". Daily Record (Scotland). 10 March 2001. Retrieved 5 September 2011.