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Friday, May 21, 1999 Published at 14:15 GMT 15:15 UK


Emotional farewell to Dando

Private funeral for a public figure

Hundreds of people are lining the route of the funeral courtege for the murdered BBC presenter Jill Dando in her home town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset.

Jill Dando 1961 - 1999
The cortège of a hearse and three cars began winding through the streets on a three mile journey to the church service at just after 1430 BST to allow the town's people to pay the final respects to one of their most famous daughters.

Among those paying their final respects at the service are stars from the TV and entertainment world.

Sir Cliff Richard, once a teenage idol for murdered BBC TV presenter Jill Dando, was expected to be joining the mourners at her funeral.

Robin Aitken reports: "Thousands expected on the streets of Weston-super-Mare"
Her Crimewatch co-presenter Nick Ross is among a number of BBC personalities who are joining Ms Dando's family at the private service in Clarence Park Baptist Church.

Anna Ford, Martyn Lewis, Jennie Bond, Bob Wilson and Eamonn Holmes are just some of the household names among the 100 mourners.

Click here for coverage of the funeral

Speaking before the funeral service began, the BBC's Nicholas Witchell said: "I spent hundreds of hours with Jill on the Six O'Clock news."

[ image: Jill Dando will be buried next to her mother]
Jill Dando will be buried next to her mother
Mr Witchell, who is also reporting on the funeral for the BBC, added: "I never thought I would be standing here today broadcasting from her funeral.

"The whole thing is just unreal. It is going to be difficult but, like all the media, we all want to do it well as one form of tribute to Jill."

A memorial service for others who knew her will be held in London at a later date.

(Click here to see a map of the route of the cortège)

Private service

Ms Dando's father Jack, a retired printer, her brother Nigel, chief reporter on the Bristol Evening Post, and her fiancé, Alan Farthing, led the mourners as the funeral began.

The BBC's Clinton Rogers has been speaking to some of those who knew Jill best
The service is being conducted by the Rev Marc Owen, pastor of the Milton Baptist Church, where Ms Dando was once a regular visitor. Rev Roger Collins, retired pastor of the Milton church, is giving the address.

The family asked mourners to donate money to the Weston Hospice in Weston-super-Mare instead of giving flowers.

Clues to the Dando murder
They also made arrangements with the media for only representatives of the BBC and the Press Association, the UK's main news agency, to cover the service.

However, other journalists joined the crowds in Weston-super-Mare and there were reports that some were planning coverage from the air.

The BBC is relaying audio of the service to the public gathered in nearby Ellenborough Park while its cameras will record the event but not broadcast live.

Ms Dando is being laid to rest next to her mother, Jean, who died from leukaemia 13 years ago.

Hunt continues

The hunt for Ms Dando's killer continues, with detectives following up leads generated by a reconstruction of the shooting on Crimewatch, a programme formerly presented by Ms Dando.

Those with information are asked to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, or the police incident room on 0181 246 0732.

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