Student ‘Jill Dando News Journalists’ at her former school will host a coffee and walnut cake celebration of her life and fast expanding legacy on the 25th anniversary of her death this Friday (26th April)

Student ‘Jill Dando News Journalists’ at her former school will host a coffee and walnut cake celebration of her life and fast expanding legacy on the 25th anniversary of her death this Friday (26th April)
Nigel Dando with Jill Dando News reporters

By Jill Dando News

Jill started writing positive news stories for school magazine Merlin aged 13 at Worle Community School Academy in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset before becoming the smiling face of Britain at BBC TV in the 1990s.

In 2017, students at WCSA started Jill Dando News in her memory and legacy to spread positivity worldwide in the same style as Jill’ did - with positivity, enthusiasm, authenticity, humility, kindness, empathy and ambition.

Now Jill Dando student journalists aged 7 to 18 will gather with Jill’s older brother Nigel Dando to cut a giant coffee and walnut cake provided by REVO restaurant and the Grand Pier where Jill visited during her childhood days. Coffee and walnut cake was Jill‘s personal favourite, prompting seafront based restaurant REVO and the Grand Pier and other venues across Weston-super-Mare including her lifelong church Milton Baptist to do charity coffee and walnut cake events all week in memory of Jill.

Jill’s older brother Nigel said: “Jill has been an inspirational figure, not least for all the students involved with the news centres which bear her name. 
“The tea and cake scheme is a wonderful idea, not least because it will benefit a number of good causes. And of course coffee and walnut cake was a big family favourite."

Since 2017 the timely Jill Dando News has expended across Somerset and also to Africa - a continent Jill had a big heart for. The fast-expanding project has been backed by two Prime Ministers, Sir Richard Branson, Sir Cliff Richard, Lord Archer and a host of other world figures in a world of bad news and rocketing mental health issues.

It trains up real-life journalists and brilliant people of the future to find, write and post positive good news stories, with training by professional journalists including Nigel Dando, Fiona Bruce and others from BBC, ITV and Sky News. Their positive stories are posted to the Good News Post online newspaper, and then to the wider Media.

Jill Dando News reporters made history to became the first journalists in the world to interview the then new Prime Minister Boris Johnson in August 2019 and have interviewed hundreds of people and written countless positive good news stories.
The Jill Dando News project aims to train up journalists who think and write positively, which it is hoped, will also make young people’s thinking more positive and boost mental health.

The 25th anniversary week of celebration events are in partnership with the The Priory Learning Trust, the Grand Pier, Revo Kitchen & Terrace, Visit Somerset, Weston-super-Mare FC, the Good News Post, and two mental health charities In Charley’s Memory (ICM) and Wellspring Counselling.

Olivia Finch, 19, was the first ever Jill Dando News reporter then aged 12 at Worle Academy, and is now studying to be a doctor at Bristol University. She jointly produced her own TV piece for BBC TV Points West about Jill’s legacy when aged 13 along with a Priory student. Olivia said: “Jill inspired us from day one with her life. Jill Dando News is a fitting, expanding legacy for Jill who really was ‘the smiling face of Britain.”

Principal Mark Tidman said: “It is wonderful to see how out of tragedy our students have turned out so many positives.
“Since 2017 there have been hundreds of positive good news stories, interviews with Fiona Bruce, NASA astronauts and others, and visits to interview the Prime Minister in Downing Street and Mr Speaker in Parliament.
“We want to remember Jill Dando, her incredible life and expanding legacy through the students who are doing brilliant things in her memory.”
He added: “Jill’s expanding legacy is so many positive good news stories. We are so proud of our students who just like Jill when she was here are writing superb journalism. 

“Her legacy also reminds students, as we do regularly, to be kind and humble, to help charities and to have ambition to go for their dreams.”

The Grand Pier Director, Michelle Michael said: “We are delighted to be in partnership with Jill Dando News and the celebrations of Jill’s fantastic life and expanding legacy.”

Read more