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Tuesday, 28 September, 1999, 14:02 GMT 15:02 UK
In memoriam: Jill Dando, 1961-99
The following tributes to Jill Dando from friends, colleagues and members of the public were published in a booklet released at her memorial service.
The tributes that followed Jill's tragic death have come from all over the world, from all corners of society and from all age groups.
They are unanimous in their appreciation of her unassuming, compassionate, bubbly personality and exceptional professional ability. She was universally loved.
This booklet consists of positive memories specifically recorded by a number of Jill's colleagues and friends, together with a few of the thoughts contributed by many thousands of people who expressed their feelings through the BBC website.
Our love and devotion to each other are never hidden but cannot be expressed in words. I am privileged to have my life so touched by hers.
Through her beauty, eloquence, modesty and charm one characteristic remains the strongest: she was fun. Jill earned every moment of happiness she ever experienced and deserved many, many more. I owe her.
A wonderful personality who became a very welcome regular guest into our living rooms, will be sorely missed for her presentation style, warmth, enthusiasm, verve and humour.
She was a fine and vibrant person who was much loved by the audience and her colleagues alike. She will be hugely missed.
We should celebrate Jill for what she was - warm, generous, a good companion on and off the screen. She will be forever remembered for her sweet, unaffected elegance.
Although Jill's name is synonymous with Crimewatch, she was a willing supporter of the police in other less well-known ways. She took the time, for instance, to provide a voice-over for a multi-agency video on domestic violence and involved herself with enthusiasm in a variety of crime prevention and training initiatives.
Appearing on Crimewatch, I was impressed with Jill's openness, warmth and sincerity. A true professional, she coaxed even the most reticent detective to convey the intended message, as well as eliciting relevant facts and appeals for help. Jill appeared interested in every case and had particular empathy with victims.
After the programme she mixed comfortably with us without aloofness. It was clear that she wanted to achieve the right results - retaining personal involvement in our successes.
Everyone knows Jill's name and we in the 'police family' speak it now with genuine affection and respect. As our work continues, the contribution of Jill Dando will live on.
I first met Jill in 1979 when I became Minister of Milton Baptist Church. Jill was at a Sixth Form college. In her second year there she was elected as Head Girl. Even then she was popular amongst her peers.
At the church she was secretary of the Young People's Fellowship, a post which she fulfiled with cheerful efficiency which was to mark all she did thereafter.
I remember well the first Youth Weekend which she and the leaders had planned together. The 40 or so young people had been divided into groups and given a parable which they were to act out in modern form on the Saturday evening. Jill's acting ability was a wondrous revelation.
Some people act as an outlet for their extreme extrovert nature. That was not Jill. Others act because they are afraid to show their real selves. That was not Jill either. In her acting Jill showed not only her great sense of humour, but more importantly her ability to understand the feelings of others and to portray them sympathetically.
When Jill left she went to work as a junior reporter on the Weston Mercury. One of her tasks was to attend court, to report on the misdemeanours of the local citizens. I was a magistrate here at the time, so I knew the details of many of the cases which Jill reproduced in print. I must put on record that I never read a report from her that was factually untrue, or written for sensational effect. She wrote with a sensitive humanity.
You were my closest confidante and best friend, you were generous and considerate and despite your busy life you were always on hand to give support. We shared life's ups and downs - you were never judgmental but a positive and encouraging influence.
We were both accident prone and so were careful to take out accidental damage insurance before embarking on our lively house-share in Southfields. This couldn't stop you falling into the pond en-route for the washing line! We laughed 'til we cried.
You can't be replaced in your god-daughter Emilie's life nor mine, but nobody can take away all those happy times and you will be with us forever. Thanks for everything 'cous'. Love you lots.
The warmth of Jill's personality touched so many people. We shall remember her as a devoted daughter and a loving sister, treasured by her family. To us and to millions she was simply the best.
Jill's occasional visits brought a ray of sunshine to Weston Hospicecare. She brought happiness and her inimitable 'girl next door' friendliness to the staff, volunteers and most importantly - the patients, who would talk about her for weeks after.
Jill was the gentlest, sweetest and kindest friend, someone who was universally liked and a truly nice person, whose life was coming together in a marvellous way.
Our friendship began before your career leap to London, in the unlikely surroundings of a 36-hour coach trip to Italy and a week spent in the most basic of accommodation. From an inauspicious beginning, you became such a wonderful and true friend.
During these eventful years I enjoyed the journey of your meteoric escalation in glamour and fame. Behind the celebrity, we were there for each other at all times of life, from banal to exceptional. I am so proud of all your achievements and realise how fortunate little Victoria was to have you as her Godmother.
What a fantastic last 18 months; there was nothing remotely ordinary about the happiness you found with Alan, my colleague (and friend), your 'Mr So Right'. What a pleasure to see you so in love and loved.
Jill was a genuinely warm person off screen with a lovely sense of humour, most notably when she did a Children In Need sketch with fellow news presenters. I first met Jill after her first national shift for TV News in April 1988 and remember that she popped down to the office for a chat, hairbrush in hand!
I last saw Jill in October at the National Television Awards and we talked briefly about the proposed changes to news presentation. She looked so happy on the arm of Alan.
My thoughts are with Alan, her family and her colleagues.
Images crowd my mind, Jill, of you dancing. Your heels kicked off, suffused with joy - a musical symmetry.
Another moment, another memory. Darting across a street in Germany to see a window display of jewellery. A kaleidoscope of images. Much later that same day conspiring to lose 'the men', so the three of us could indulge in girl talk about childhood, our mothers and men. Your cosy dream of a large dining space so you could have your friends for supper. Your love of Celine Dion.
Your eyes blurring when you saw the pain that crime brings and then you standing tall and elegant in front of the police during briefings before transmission and if you stumbled over a detail saying with a quiet vehemence, 'Don't worry, I will get it right. I will.' And Jill you did, you always did.
If you can convince the people on the end of the mike, you're there. And she was. Her great gift was that she seemed to be of flesh and blood. On the flat telly screen she was three-dimensional. TV presenters come and go, but Jill will never go from the minds from anyone who saw her.
On a typical working day I'd speak to Jilly many times on many different subjects, wherever she was in the world. She led a very busy life and demands on her time had escalated considerably in the last year.
No matter what the circumstances of her life she was always kind and caring, remarkably efficient, enthusiastic and indeed astute about everything that was offered to her. She gave a great deal of her limited free time to helping others.
We often talked to each other in silly voices and she was a great mimic, whose warmth and generosity of spirit always shone through. Her zest for life was infectious and she was as graceful in her attitude to people as she was in the way she walked into a room.
What you saw was what you got, there were no hidden agendas or egocentric tantrums. She was delightfully self-effacing and a 'natural' on and off the screen. She was also a good listener and her training as a journalist meant that even when the boundaries into her private life were unfairly crossed she would be understanding of a journalist's role in life.
The Jilly I knew was a funny, happy soul who loved a glass of champagne, a dance, and a chat on anything from commissionaires to cleavage. She was a good woman, who valued people more than possessions and who took little and gave much. It was a privilege to work with her and I feel blessed to have seen her eyes shine with the love she had found with Alan, and the protective love she felt towards her family.
Thank you, Jilly, for touching my life with your laughter and loving ways. It was a pleasure to have known and loved you.
You were the perfect presenter and never complained no matter what we put you through on Holiday. We separated you from your loved ones, we made you sea sick, we had you presenting on roller blades, we persuaded you into horseback riding, we cajoled you into humiliating karaoke sequences and you still smiled. Your professionalism and pride in your work have been an inspiration to all of us who worked with you.
But most important of all, you were a friend I loved dearly - kind, generous to a fault and always fun to be with. I will treasure memories of our 'girlie' holiday in Italy at the beginning of this year forever. Jilly, you will be missed more than you know. Bless you.
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