Crowds celebrate Sir Jimmy Savile's life

 

Sir Jimmy Savile "brought a little bit of magic and sparkle to everybody that he met", mourners at his funeral service were told today.

TV and radio colleagues joined Sir Jimmy's family and friends in St Anne's Cathedral, Leeds, for a Requiem Mass as thousands of well-wishers watched outside on big screens.

Addressing the packed church, the Rt Rev Monsignor Kieran Heskin said: "Sir Jimmy Savile can face eternal life with confidence.

"His life story was an epic of giving - giving of time, giving of talent, giving of treasure."

Alison Graham, of Stoke Mandeville Hospital for which Sir Jimmy helped to raise millions of pounds, said: "He brought a little bit of magic and sparkle to everybody he met."

Sir Jimmy's gold-coloured coffin was carried into the packed cathedral by a detachment of Royal Marines commandos after the cortege toured his home city.

After leaving The Queens Hotel, where around 5,000 people turned out yesterday to pay their respects at his casket, the procession stopped at the former home of his beloved mother, Agnes, and at Leeds General Infirmary where hospital staff lined the street along with members of the public.

Thousands of people packed both sides of Cookridge Street behind barriers as the cortege approached the cathedral and broke into spontaneous applause as the cars pulled up. Calls of "Jimmy" rang out through the crowd as the pall bearers approached the steps.

Inside, the Right Rev Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, said: "Today Jimmy lies at the front of this cathedral where, in former years, he had remained discreetly hidden at the back in order not to disturb people's prayers or distract their attention from what was taking place at the altar.

"This afternoon, he occupies the first place always in our thoughts, affections and prayers."

One of the eulogies was given by Professor Alistair Hall - a cardiologist who became Sir Jimmy's friend.

Prof Hall announced a new hospital institute devoted to helping heart patients will be created using a bequest from Sir Jimmy's will.

He said: "He had done it all, seen it all, got it all and, if I may add, given it all."

Nephew Roger Foster told the congregation Sir Jimmy was "my friend, my mentor, my uncle".

As the coffin left the cathedral, a bugler played the Last Post.

Boxer Frank Bruno chatted to the public as they thronged outside the steps.

"He was very special man," he said.

Among the other guests were many of the DJs Sir Jimmy worked with in his long career.

Mike Read said: "Today should be a celebration. He'd have loved it - a showman to the end. You don't want it to happen but if it's inevitable, the bigger the crowd the better. It's extraordinary.

"I think it's a celebration rather than anything else."

Read delighted onlookers with some impressions of Sir Jimmy and showed off a Union flag card signed by the Bee Gees. The band had also sent flowers.

Tony Prince, 66, said: "He was my mentor. He was the mentor for DJs in Europe.

"He was unique throughout his life and he's a testament to kindness and goodness and being a damned good DJ."

Prince added: "He lived his life with his tongue in his cheek.

"If there's a heaven, he'll be laughing now if he's got time. Because if there is a heaven, he'll be introducing Elvis on the clouds."

One wreath in a second hearse which just carried flowers spelt out the number 208 in yellow and white flowers - the frequency for Radio Luxembourg, where Sir Jimmy once worked.

Hospital porter Walter Jackson, who has worked at Leeds General Infirmary for 19 years, paid tribute outside the hospital where Sir Jimmy volunteered as a porter and for which he raised millions of pounds.

Mr Jackson said: "He used to walk about and talk to everybody.

"He'd talk to anybody, it didn't matter who it was.

"If someone was crying, he would go over.

"You can't buy that."

Sir Jimmy will be buried tomorrow following more public ceremonials in Scarborough, the North Yorkshire seaside town he loved and where he had a home.

According to his last wishes, he will be buried at a 45-degree angle overlooking the sea.

He will be buried with a Royal Marines medal and green beret and a Help for Heroes wristband.

Sir Jimmy, who presented the first episode of Top Of The Pops, was found dead at his flat in Roundhay, Leeds, just two days before his 85th birthday.

The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall led the tributes to him.

Sir Jimmy started working life as a miner before running a series of clubs and working as a wrestler and then a DJ.

He raised millions for charity and ran more than 200 marathons in support of good causes.

PA

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