Seven Jill Dando News Centres will be officially started tomorrow in her home county and Africa – 20 years to the day since her death.
The JDNCs are part of the former TV presenter’s incredible Life and Legacy which lives on, giving a good news, positivity and mental wellbeing boost in schools.
Stars and celebrities including Sir Cliff Richard and Alan Titchmarsh have sent good luck messages to students from Jill’s old school, Worle Community School Academy in Weston-super-Mare as they officially open their JDNC and TV station JDTV with a ceremony tomorrow.
JDNC students will cover the event where Jill’s first headteacher Donald Brown, now aged 93, will have a room dedicated to him at the same time.
Olivia Finch, 13, JDNC Editor at WCSA, said: “Jill was the face of Britain. We are inspired by her life and want the legacy to be thousands of good news stories being sent out across Somerset and the world.”
Over 5000 children in Somerset and Malawi have been inspired by the life of Jill to push out good news across the area in local newspapers, radio and TV.
The other schools with JDNCs are Priory Community School Academy, St Anne’s Church Academy, and Castle Batch Primary School Academy in Weston-super-Mare, and The King Alfred School Academy in Highbridge, Somerset. One is being built in Pawlett Primary School Academy near Bridgwater – also part of The Priory Learning Trust that launched the initiative.
African children in Malawi also have a JDNC, set up last summer by Sarah O’ Gorman from the Priory JDNC.
The students’ work has highlighted Jill’s life and legacy, boosting positivity, kindness, good news and mental wellbeing. The JDNCs are simple but powerfully effective. Armed with iPads and notepads, the children aged 9 to 18 find and write positive stories across their schools and community.
Students are trained by Jill’s brother Nigel and other professional journalists and editors from local, regional and national Media.
Their stories then go into the media, and social media, and also in their own newspaper ‘The Post’ which they deliver to their old primary schools.
Elijah Maxwell, aged 10, of St Anne’s Church Academy, said: ”We report good news stories. I love the Jill Dando News Centre because it gives us chance to practice being journalists.”
A number of the students’ stories have been picked up by newspapers including the Weston Mercury and have gone across the world. One story was about Robbie the school robot who is helping charity inspiration and ME sufferer Makayla, 14, to access education at Priory. Their story recently even made Time magazine, the children edition in America as well as national newspapers and magazines, the BBC and ITV.
Shannon Kingston, aged 11, Castle Batch Primary School Academy said: ”The Jill Dando News Centres are a really good place to be, it’s great to make good friends and it’s really positive.”
Jacob Kemp, aged 14, of The King Alfred School Academy, said: “Our young journalists and students at the various schools are passionate about remembering Jill and the legacy that she has left behind for the journalists of the future to follow.”
Nigel Dando said: “This scheme is mind boggling brilliant. Jill would be tickled pink by it all.”
Sir Cliff said the students are honouring Jill in such a fitting way.
He added: “I can honestly say that Jill Dando was one of my very closest friends. As a TV journalists she was honest, factual and charming. What a delight to hear that because of the legacy she left us, thousands of people are following in her footsteps with good news stories.”
TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh told the Jill Dando News Centre: ”Jill was not only a brilliant journalist, she was a wonderful person. She emanated goodwill and fun.”
World best selling author Jeffrey Archer told our JDNC student editor that “Jill was gentle and kind and I never met anyone who did not like her, never. She was also very professional at the job she did.”
World explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes told our reporters: “Well done to the students of Jill‘s old school who are bringing her memory alive with a living, breathing news centre to train up young journalists and get out good news.
“Stories of children showing great, determination and all the acts of positivity inspire others and fill the media with much-needed good news.”