Derek Jameson's widow pays tribute to the broadcaster at his funeral


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The Independent Online

The widow of veteran broadcaster and former Fleet Street editor Derek Jameson paid tribute to an “incredible character” at his funeral service today.

The final journey for Jameson, 82, who had a heart attack at his home on September 12, was by Victorian horse-drawn carriage which took his casket in a procession through his home town of Worthing, West Sussex.

The carriage, which was adorned with flowers spelling out Derek, travelled to the town's Offington Park Methodist Church where the funeral service took pace.

His coffin was carried into the church where he was a regular attender by his children and other family members.

During the simple service, attended by family and friends, his widow Ellen spoke of her happy marriage.

Describing her husband, she said: "He was an incredible character, I never forgot Derek was an extraordinary man and a one-off.

"He is the perfect example of a man who lived life to the full.

"The life force was strong in him up to the end. Until a few days before, he was mentally robust, alert, interested, reading his books, watching TV and writing newspaper articles, being interviewed for TV and radio."

She said that he had proudly watched the Olympics this year, which took place in his birthplace of the east end of London.

She said: "Derek really was a man of the people, he was looked up to by many but I never saw him look down on anyone."

She added: "Derek was a real softie and that hard shell of a newspaperman hid a heart of gold; he often cried when watching the news or Animal Planet.

"Derek could truly claim to have been there, done that and written the slogans on the T-shirts of life."

His son Peter said: "Derek was a kind, decent compassionate man who understood and cared about other people.

"He particularly cared for people in need, he reserved his most negative comments for the toffee-nosed.

"He was a man who rose to the top of two demanding careers, who was recognised everywhere he went but had no airs or graces, not a whiff of superciliousness."

Another son, Dan, said: "He had so many catchphrases, I will only hear the one: 'Bye bye now, bye."

His daughter Barbara Jameson-Taylor, who gave a reading, said: "Dad I love you and I know you love us."

The service included a slideshow of images and family photos showing moments from Mr Jameson's public and private life.

Mr Jameson edited the Daily Express, the Daily Star and the News of the World and was also managing editor of the Daily Mirror, and a popular presenter on BBC Radio 2.

He was born in poverty in the East End where, without parents, he grew up in a home.

He began work in Fleet Street as a messenger boy at the age of 14 and rose through the ranks to edit some of Britain's biggest newspapers.

He developed a reputation as a builder of circulation and, asked to launch the Daily Star - the first new national tabloid for 75 years - he took it to more than a million copies within a year.

He also put on half a million readers at the Daily Express, which languished at less than two million when he joined it.

In 1984 he found himself broke and unemployed. Rupert Murdoch had fired him because of differences at the News of the World and he then lost all his money in a disastrous libel action against the BBC.

He launched the lawsuit after Radio 4 called him "an East End boy made bad".

However it was the BBC, recognising his gifts as a communicator, which turned him into a celebrity with television series such as Do They Mean Us? and his popular breakfast show on Radio 2.

He went on to present a chat show for six years with his wife, establishing the largest late night radio audience in Europe.

He told his story in his best-selling autobiography Touched By Angels, with the second volume Last Of The Hot Metal Men chronicling the dying days of the old Fleet Street.

Much of his fame rested on his gravelly Cockney voice, which he regarded as unique because it contained elements of Manchester, where he worked for eight years, and his wartime days as an evacuee in Hertfordshire.

The Jamesons moved to Miami Beach, Florida, in the early 2000s but Mr Jameson missed England and his family, and they moved back to southern England.

Mr Jameson had suffered health problems for most of this year. He leaves Ellen, his third wife, and four adult children.