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Friday, May 21, 1999 Published at 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK


Emotional farewell to Dando

A private service for a very public person

The funeral of murdered BBC presenter Jill Dando has heard of her kindness, warmth and "sensitive humanity".

Farewell to Jill Dando
The service took place in her home town of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset .

The cortège arrived at the church around 1500 BST after a three mile journey through the streets of the town.

Hundreds lined the streets to pay their final respects to one of the town's most famous daughters.

The private service for family and friends in Clarence Park Baptist Church was relayed to a crowd in a nearby park by the BBC.

Family and stars

The BBC's Nicholas Witchell reports on a day of farewell and rememberance
Stars from the TV and entertainment world joined her father Jack, brother Nigel and fiance Alan Farthing.

The congregation included Crimewatch co-presenter Nick Ross, her close friend Sir Cliff Richard and other former broadcasting colleagues Anna Ford, Martyn Lewis, Bob Wilson and Eamonn Holmes.

Alan Farthing: "Those who loved you dearly are the ones who can't forget"
BBC court correspondent Jennie Bond was also present as were broadcasters Carol Vorderman and Jeremy Paxman.

Also there was Prince Edward's fiancée Sophie Rhys-Jones, who is due to get married next month.

Alan Farthing read out an anonymous poem which was one of "tens of thousands" of letters he had received in the wake of her death.

Nick Ross gives a reading from the Bible at the funeral of his former co-presenter
Nick Ross gave a reading from Romans chapter eight, before the congregation sang the hymn "Oh Lord God, Praise Your Awesome Wonder".

There was also a reading from the Bible from Sir Cliff Richard.

Click here to listen to the funeral service in full

[ image: Jill Dando will be buried next to her mother]
Jill Dando will be buried next to her mother
Reverend Roger Collins, his voice wavering with emotion, said: "Our love and sympathy goes out especially to Jack, and Nigel, and Alan. But we have all been touched by this remarkable life.

Mr Collins, who first met Ms Dando in 1979, recalled her days as a reporter on the Weston Mercury newspaper.

The minister, who was a magistrate at the time, said: "I never read a report from her that was factually untrue, or written for sensational effect. She wrote with a sensitive humanity."

Humility and love

[ image:  ]
He said her faith was deeply tested by the suffering and lingering death of her mother.

Mr Collins said: "There was a down-to-earthness about Jill, a humility and love for people that marked all she did.

"Popular with people. Cheerfully efficient. A talented actress with a bubbling sense of humour and an infectious giggle."

Sir Cliff Richard: "God is within her and she will not fall"
He said she was so looking forward to her wedding in the autumn: "Life was about to enter an exciting, fulfilling new stage. Until that fateful moment on Monday 26 April.

"Jill, the beautiful girl next door, known to every family in the country, was shot dead. And everyone was asking: 'Why?'"

'Why did this happen?'

Mr Collins said: "I know of nobody who could have had fewer enemies than Jill. Why should this happen to her?"

He said when she was shot a "lively, loving, beautiful light was extinguished".

The service was conducted by the Reverend Marc Owen, pastor of the Milton Baptist Church, where Ms Dando was once a regular visitor.

Mr Owen said: "Today we, along with many hundreds if not thousands of people not only in this community, not only in this nation, question 'Why - why did Jill have to die?'

"It would be quite wrong for anybody to stand here today and pretend to have an answer to that question - in all honesty, we do not know."

[ image:  ]
He said the congregation were there to remember a "beautiful, young, energetic and talented woman" who was loved and appreciated by her family, her fiance, her friends and colleagues and by a viewing public who took her into their homes and into their hearts.

Congregation in tears

The service closed with the hymn Abide With Me and the mourners filed out, many in tears.

Ms Dando's former colleague on the Six O'Clock News, Nicholas Witchell, is also reporting on the funeral for the BBC.

He said before the service: "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."

Private service

The BBC's Clinton Rogers has been speaking to some of those who knew Jill best
The family asked mourners to donate money to the Weston Hospice in Weston-super-Mare instead of giving flowers.

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.

Clues to the Dando murder
The BBC relayed the service to the public gathered in nearby Ellenborough Park East.

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

A special thanksgiving service is to take place at All Saints Church in Langham Place, central London on 28 September.

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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21 May 99 | UK
Prayers for Jill

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Internet Links

Weston-super-Mare: Jill Dando tribute page

Nick Ross's tribute to Jill Dando

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