Laurel Thomas (neé Potts; previously Dingle) is the widow of Ashley Thomas, mother of his children Arthur and Dotty Thomas, step-mother to Ashley's daughter Gabby Thomas and the ex-wife of Marlon Dingle.
Laurel arrives at Marlon Dingle and Tricia Stokes’ engagement party, dressed as a bumblebee. She collapses halfway through her act and is to be rushed to hospital. Laurel then moves in with pensioners Betty Eagleton and Seth Armstrong. Laurel later develops feelings for vicar Ashley Thomas. Though Ashley likes Laurel, he does not feel the same about her. Laurel starts a career in cleaning and manages to secure many village residents on her books. She becomes best friends with Nicola Blackstock , who also becomes her business partner. Ashley and Louise Appleton are involved in a car accident following a storm. Laurel decides to look after Ashley while he recovers. The pair become close and Ashley develops feelings for her and they start dating. Laurel decides to carry out volunteer work in Tanzania. Ashley fails to stop her with a proposal of marriage.
When Laurel returns she agrees to marry Ashley. They face problems when Bishop George Postlethwaite, who refuses them permission to marry. He makes it clear Ashley's love life has put his position in question. Ashley quits his job but realises he cannot cope without the church. Laurel tells Ashley she will wait to marry him. Curate Ethan Blake becomes Laurel's confidant but falls in love with her. He makes advances on Laurel, but she rebukes his attentions. Ethan tells George they had kissed. When George discovers Ethan has lied, he gives Laurel and Ashley his blessing and carries out their wedding ceremony.
Laurel helps Ashley reconnect with his estranged father Sandy. When Nicola leaves their village she struggles with the workload combined with new found parish duties. She sells her business to David Metcalfe. Laurel clashes with Ashley's niece Jasmine. They eventually bond after a difficult start. However, Laurel is upset when Jasmine's friends Debbie Dingle and Daz Eden accidentally set fire to the vicarage, seeing her lose everything.
Laurel later discovers that she is pregnant. Laurel's parents Douglas and Hilary Potts visit her and end up in a car accident. Laurel decides to look after them. Upon her return she goes into labour whilst locked in the village church, with only Shadrach Dingle for help. Shadrach rings the church bell to attract any attention from passers by. When she gives birth to a boy named which she and Ashley name Daniel, whilst in hospital she meets Melanie Doland, who also have a baby boy.
Several months later, Laurel finds Daniel dead in his cot. Laurel is distraught and lashes out at those closest to her. She moves in with Betty so she doesn't have to see Ashley and later kisses Greg, Mel's husband. Ashamed, she returns home to Ashley. Hilary begins to suspect that Melanie and Greg's son Arthur is Laurel's child and sets out to prove there was a mix up at the hospital. Laurel feels like she is betraying Daniel and refuses to believe it. Ashley starts a custody battle and Mel attempts to run away with Arthur, but returns him. Ashley tells Laurel he will leave her and raise him alone if she does not attend the custody hearing. When they win, she finds it hard to bond with the child and her marriage suffers as a result. Laurel fears he has died when he suffers a cold and takes him to hospital and realises she has to accept him.
George announces that the church faces closure due to low attendance. Laurel and Nicola attempt to save the church by carrying out various charity events. David later reveals that Nicola was in on the plan to buy the church, which ends her friendship, though they later make peace. Laurel barricades herself in the church to stop its closure. However, Natasha Wylde reveals she has brought it and donates it back to the community. This allows Laurel and Ashley to stay in the village. Jasmine admits to murdering Shane Doyle, Laurel tries to get her to confess as it was self-defence. However Jasmine goes on the run, with Debbie left taking the blame. Laurel goes to the police to make a statement about Jasmine, however they charge her with perverting the course of justice. She is later given forty hours of community service.
Ashley comes back into contact with old enemy Vincent and Sally Spode. Sally starts visiting them more claiming to need support. Laurel makes an effort as she previously dated Ashley. Though Sally leaves Vincent and moves into the vicarage. Laurel tries to get her to go home and Sally causes trouble for Laurel. Vincent becomes angry with Sally for leaving, who pretends to be victimised. Laurel later grows tired of Sally's reluctance to find somewhere else to live. Laurel becomes angry with Sally for attempting to take over her role in her domestic life.
Sally locks Laurel in the church having caused a fire. Sally pretends to be concerned and alerts villagers. Laurel survives and realises Sally could be behind the fire and tries to stop Sally from looking after her children. Sally later tries to suffocate Laurel. Laurel informs Ashley that she suspects Sally was behind the fire, though he refuses to believe her and calls her a councillor. Laurel leaves Ashley for not believing her and takes the children to live with Hilary. Sally is delighted to have Ashley to herself, though after a while he realises Laurel was telling the truth. When Laurel returns she agrees to move back in their home. Though, she makes it clear their marriage will take time to repair. Laurel tracks Sally down to a block of flats. She finds a shrine of Ashley inside and Sally claims to be pregnant with his child. Laurel attacks Sally and dangles her over the flat balcony. Laurel sees sense and pulls her back over, which results in Sally being arrested.
Laurel refuses to go on strike over Nikhil Sharma while all the other factory girls do. She is later annoyed to find out Charity Tate set Nikhil up. Laurel becomes annoyed with the atmosphere between Ashley and Sandy. She spends more time out of the house and with Marlon Dingle. They share an emotional moment, though when Marlon becomes close to Rachel Breckle, Laurel becomes jealous and realises she has feelings for Marlon.
In the summer of 2012, Marlon and Laurel became a couple after a year of love and attraction between them. This caused major problems for Laurel's marriage to Ashley, who started abusing his father Sandy as a result of the stress of trying to make the marriage work. When Laurel discovered this, it signaled the final blow for the couple. With Marlon, Laurel is now maintaining a friendship with Ashley. Marlon let Ashley move in with him after he had nowhere else to go, having moved out of the marital home, where Laurel remained with Sandy and the kids. The children struggled to cope following the recent events, particularly Gabby, whose biological mother Bernice returned to the village in November later that year.
In 2013, Laurel and Marlon became engaged, but their happiness was marred when Laurel was carjacked by Ross Barton. Traumatized by the incident, she eventually tracked him down and stabbed him in the shoulder with a pair of scissors; he had her brought up on charges. He would remain a part of her life for some time due to the return of Marlon's ex-wife Donna Windsor, who came back to let him get to know April, the daughter he'd never known about. Donna tried to hide the fact that she was dying, but eventually Marlon learned the truth. His old feelings for Donna resurfaced, making Laurel insecure about their relationship. In attempts to have money for April's future, Donna became involved in criminal activities, with Ross soon joining her as well as becoming her lover. Donna killed herself and Gary North, a crime boss she had run afoul of, leaving Laurel to cope with a devastated Marlon and April. April's only comfort was Ross, meaning Laurel had to put aside their past animosity to try to help April cope. Laurel kissed Ashley and learned that Marlon had kissed Donna, making her unsure she even wanted to marry him, but they went ahead.
The stress took a toll on Laurel, and she steadily succumbed to alcoholism. By the beginning of 2015 she had lost her job at the factory and was hiding her drinking from Marlon as well as Doug, who'd returned to the village after a breakup with Hilary. When April drank from her glass and became sick, Laurel rushed her to hospital, swearing her to secrecy. When Marlon began to find out about her drinking, she tried to blame the stress on Daniel's death, among other problems. The problem rapidly sped up when April and Arthur found her drunk and passed out on the sofa, choking on her own vomit. She refused to get help, punching Marlon and severely damaging one of his corneas when he tried to get through to her. Cain Dingle gave her money to leave the village, but in her drunken state and rush to flee, she ran over Marlon's beloved dog, Daisy. He found her hiding the corpse amongst a pile of leaves, begging him not to look. She then went to a bar in town, letting a man take her home in exchange for booze, and stealing his money the morning after. He tracked her down at home and when Marlon learned what she'd done, it was the last straw. Several weeks later she learned he'd given her an STI. She tried to pretend everything was fine, and keep the children with her, but she showed up drunk at school and began calling Gabby names. At an all-time low, Laurel began leaning on Ashley, again falling off the wagon due to a conflict with him. He was run over by Victoria Sugden soon after, and a delirious Laurel fought with his girlfriend Harriet Finch at hospital, getting a slap in the process. Back in the village she saw Sandy weeping, and assumed the worst, accidentally telling Bernice and Gabby that Ashley was dead. When Laurel learned the truth, she finally went on the wagon.
Marlon and Laurel tried again, and when they learned of Hilary's death, even went to her funeral as a couple, but they realised the marriage was best left behind. Laurel received no inheritance beyond trinkets, so reluctantly stayed with Marlon and April as she started her life over, working as a waitress at the cafe. After she helps Belle Dingle and Kirin Kotecha with their new cordial, an impressed Rishi offers her her job back at the factory. She agrees, and makes plans to move into a place of her own.
Other information Edit
- Laurel is allergic to prawns.
- On Laurel's police card, her birthday read '5 January 1974' in error.
Background information Edit
- Cal Freestone portrayed Laurel in Episode 7699 (20th December 2016), to show Ashley Thomas' struggle with dementia.