Books of condolence for one of the city’s favourite sons are being signed at Leeds hospitals and at the city’s market.
As thousands of people are expected to come to Leeds to mark the funeral of Sir Jimmy Savile, we look at some of the personal tributes that have been sent to the Yorkshire Evening Post since the death of the 84-year-old broadcaster, on October 29.
He was found dead at his flat in Roundhay, in the home city that he loved.
Screens outside St Anne’s Cathedral will transmit pictures from the funeral to the crowds.
Life-long friend Sue Hymns, who moved to London in recent years, first met Sir Jimmy in a lift in Leeds General Infirmary when she was 17.
Their friendship spanned 44 years.
Sue said: “We were pals for a long time. He had such a big impact on my life, I have lovely memories of him.
“We met in 1997 at the LGI in a lift. I saw him and thought, ‘Oh my God,’ because he was incredibly famous at the time, yet he still made the effort to visit the hospitals in Leeds.
“We became friends. I remember him taking me out once and he called for me in a white E-type Jaguar. He came in the house and my dad said to him: ‘Don’t you feel like a bit of an idiot wearing a suit with bananas on it on the telly?’ Jimmy replied: ‘What’s in your bank account, Reg?’
“We used to go over to Time & Place in Manchester from the Intime in Leeds when it was still the old road over the Pennines. We used to go to the Quebec restaurant in the 1960s and 70s. He then progressed to the Mangetout on the Otley Road in Adel and Fortune River in Oakwood, but I managed to move him on to the Italian restaurants after a long battle, starting with La Celle in Horsforth.
“He was simply a great philosopher and teacher and good friend to myself and family. There are so many stories to tell.”
She added that the picture of them in the Flying Pizza, in Roundhay, now San Carlo’s, was taken in recent weeks: “I am so glad someone took that picture, it means a lot.”
They are also pictured, with Sue on the left, at the opening of the YPN offices.
The picture, above, is of Sir Jim on This is Your Life in 1970 with Brenda Graham, who was one of his hairdressers at Muriel Smiths in Leeds.
Leeds hairdresser Howard Silverman, 63, who was best pals with Sir Jimmy, said: “Jimmy was best man at our wedding on July 4, 2005. He is pictured (see below) with Chelsea Malpass, who was bridesmaid, myself and my wife Janet Silverman.”
Howard, who is reading a eulogy at the funeral Mass, said: “We first met through a mutual friend, Dennis Peace, who has since passed away, but I used to go to a nightclub in the 60s, and through Dennis I met Jimmy.
“Then I started running and used to see him out and about and we became mates, and have been ever since the 70s.
“We just hit it off, we clicked.”
Howard saw Sir Jimmy at his flat after he had passed away: “He looked so peaceful, with a smile on his face. He was wearing his tracksuit and his gold watch, and, of course, his charity Help for Heroes wristband
Ian De-Whytell, owner of Crash Records, Eastgate, said: “There has never been anyone like Jimmy and there never ever will be again.
“There were so many aspects to Sir Jimmy’s life but the main one of course is the colossal amount of money he raised for various charities over the years. It’s very difficult to comprehend how much work and dedication must have gone into raising an estimated £40m for so many different causes.
“As a 13-year-old boy who attended St Michael’s College, I had the opportunity to walk 17 miles with Sir Jim and many others to raise money for the Little Sisters Of The Poor.
“I still have the certificate signed by him which shows that I raised the not insignificant sum of £3.23 towards the building fund for a new home for the aged! Sir Jimmy Savile was an amazing man, there will never be anyone like him again.
“I really hope we can get a statue of him up somewhere. If this comes about, there should be a coin slot in the statue. Sir Jim could then carry on raising money even though he is no longer with us. Even better if it has a built-in speaker, so that every time you drop a coin in the slot, out comes a recording of a Jimmy Savile catch phrase. It would be quirky and eccentric, just like the man himself.”
Former Leeds nurse Sally Norfolk, above right, recalls the day the photograph of Sir Jimmy was taken when she was a charge nurse on Ward 10 at LGI, which was then a children’s ward.
She said: “It was Christmas Day and he always came to the ward to carve the turkey – although I am not sure he was not going to carve me as well on this occasion.
“He often came to the ward to push the trolley when children went to theatre or for x-rays etc – which cheered them up and took their minds off what was about to happen.
“I also remember many happy hours spent in the Mecca Dance Hall in County Arcade where he used to DJ back in the 60s.
“He is a great man who will be missed by many.”
Peter Buckland, pictured bottom right on this page in 2008 with Sir Jimmy, said: “I have known Sir Jimmy from the days when he used to call in to Kirkstall Road Fire Station in the 70s when he lived off Burley Road.
“We met many times over the years when I was involved in fundraising events, but our last meeting was at a restaurant in Collingham when celebrating my 65th birthday with all my family. The picture shows us talking of old times with me wearing my new hairpiece.”
Mavis Price was a long-standing friend of Sir Jimmy’s over four decades and became involved with his charitable work when Sir Jimmy came to work as a voluntary porter at Leeds General Infirmary in the 70s.
She also managed the Sir Jimmy Savile Charitable Trust and helped with his administration and countless requests for public appearances and donations.
Mavis, who is a retired manager of the post-graduate centre at LGI, also acted as his ‘chauffeur’, driving the Jim’ll Fix It star around in his white Bentley Continental convertible, and his £150,000 Rolls Royce Corniche.
Mavis, of Leeds, said: “Jimmy was a big and important part of my life. I will always treasure many happy memories of fun times we had while I was in his company.”
Jake Timothy, consultant neurosurgeon, pictured opposite page, bottom left, said: “My first meeting with Jimmy Savile was in 1975, I used to ride my bicycle up Princess Avenue near his home and Jimmy was often riding his cycle too. At that time it was Top of the Pops and ‘Clunk-click every trip’ but he was always polite despite his celebrity status.
“I didn’t really get to meet him until after my training in London and returning back to Leeds, when Mavis Price introduced me to him again as we were planning to have some surgeons come to LGI to learn about spinal surgery. Sir Jimmy generously funded them to come over. I got to know him quite well and was invited to his home where we chatted about many things, especially his music anecdotes, such as the time he overhead John Lennon pen Paperback Writer, how he introduced Jimi Hendrix, and other fascinating stories. It was apparent how well connected he was and I was inspired by his gritty Yorkshire grounding.
“He helped us with OPTIN (Overseas Partnering Training Initiative) currently run by Professor Anne Chamberlain, he was extremely active with LURE (Leeds Undergraduate Research Enterprise) run by Prof Shervanthi Homer-Vanniasinkam, where he donated a significant amount of money to have medical students mentored by consultant clinicians. He donated a specialised wheelchair to one of my patients who had a severe spinal cord injury and was always happy to chat on the phone. The list of his generosity is phenomenal, he has influenced so many things in people’s lives and it was a privilege and honour to meet such an intelligent, generous, positive person. He will remain a legend for a very long time. This picture was taken this May, there was so many things I wanted to chat to him about. Like so many others, I will miss him.”
Rita Wood, of Crayke, one of Sir Jimmy’s favourite spots in the Yorkshire Dales, said: “They definitely broke the mould when Jimmy Savile was born. There never has been, or ever will be, another person quite like Jim.
“He was larger than life, a real character, a bit eccentric but full of fun. He was one of the kindest men I’ve ever met. He really cared about people.
“Jim was very fond of Crayke, our little village near Easingwold. Jim lived at Crayke Castle for a while in his youth whilst working as a ‘Bevin Boy’ in the surrounding area.
“He used to arrive in one of his Rolls Royce’s, with his friend Mavis Price acting as driver, and would spend several hours looking round the show, handing out trophies to the various winners.
“When his friend John Coventry died, another of the ‘Bevin Boys’ he met at Crayke, Jim gave us a beautiful oak seat dedicated to his friend, made by a local woodcarver. It now stands in front of the church wall from where there are lovely panoramic views over the countryside – Jim’s favourite spot.
“Jim would light up the room the minute he walked in. He loved to go into the local pub, The Durham Ox, for a meal and to meet up with the villagers, kissing the hands of all the ladies as he greeted everyone.
“Crayke will be ever grateful for his friendship – he will be sorely missed by everyone.”
Glenn Reay, of Bradford, said: “He was a true Yorkshireman who never forgot his humble beginnings. I have seen Jim often over the years enjoying a pizza in one of his favourite restaurants in the city and, latterly, in July this year at the bikers’ cafe Dunnies, just on the bridge in Otley which, I understand, was one of his favourite haunts. A friends’ daughter works there during the summer months.
“I remember asking her a few weeks ago if she had ever served Jim in the cafe? She said, ‘Oh yes! He likes pie, mushy peas and gravy.’”
Sir Jimmy was pictured at the fifth birthday party of his namesake Savile’s Hall earlier this year, below. Marketing manager Chris Owen, who set up a book of condolence, said: “This is the last picture we took of him at the fifth birthday party.
He added: “Sir Jimmy, it was a real pleasure to meet you, to work with you and to listen to your wonderful stories.”
Rita Parker, from Leeds, said: “I enjoyed reading the YEP reports after Sir Jimmy’s death, particularly the bit about why Sir Jimmy started smoking cigars, as the night watchman at the Mecca who collected the cigar butts was my grandad.
“Sir Jimmy has left happy memories for so many people. May he rest in peace.”