Family and colleagues pay tribute to warmth of `devoted' Jill Dando

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The Independent Online
FIVE MONTHS after Jill Dando was gunned down on the doorstep of her London home, friends and colleagues yesterday held a memorial service for the television presenter.

There was praise for her professional talents from colleagues at the BBC and her friends in show business. There was a moving tribute from her fiance and even a speech from Sir Paul Condon, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

But by far the most poignant words were also the most simple - the remembrance of a young woman by her father and brother, contained within a book of tributes handed to the congregation. "The warmth of Jill's personality touched so many people," it read. "We shall remember her as a devoted daughter and a loving sister."

Ms Dando's elderly father Jack entered yesterday afternoon's service at All Souls Church in central London, leaning heavily on the arm of his son and Jill's brother, Nigel. He took his seat at the front of the John Nash-designed church, next to Alan Farthing, the man who this week should have been enjoying his honeymoon with the presenter. Together they sat and listened, heads bowed, to a series of tributes to Ms Dando, shot dead on the doorstep of her west London home last April by a gunman who remains at large.

Jenny Bond, the BBC's Royal Correspondent remembered a colleague with "incredible modesty in a world where egos can all too often take over". Sir John Birt, director-general of the BBC, spoke of her versatility and "willingness to have a go".

Sir Paul Condon spoke of the presenter's work with the Crimewatch programme. "Those of us who had the joy of working with her knew her concern for the victims of crime was real," he said. It is unlikely he missed the irony of his officers' apparent inability to find Ms Dando's killer, despite one of the biggest murder investigations in his force's history.

Sir Cliff Richard sang in her honour, and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 was performed beautifully by the All Souls orchestra, followed by the Crimewatch theme on the church organ.

When it had finished, the congregation of 700 filed from the church, led by Ms Dando's father. Once again he leant on the arm of his son. He looked tired, frail and terribly sad.