CALDERDALE was mourning the loss of broadcasting legend Sir Jimmy Savile on what would have been his 85th birthday yesterday.
The Jim’ll Fix It icon, famed for his eccentric dress sense and huge cigars, was found dead at his home in Roundhay, Leeds, on Saturday.
Sir Jimmy, a devoted supporter of good causes, was an honorary warden at St John’s Church in Cragg Vale, which he raised thousands of pounds for over the years.
The Rev James Allison said he had attended a service there as recently as six months ago and would talk proudly of his honourary role.
“He never announced he was coming, I would just look up and there he’d be in all his glory, usually wearing a shellsuit and everything,” he said.
“He was lovely – a really nice man. We are very sad to have lost him. He was a good friend of the church.”
Sir Jimmy began fund-raising there in 1967 when his friend, the Rev David Bennett, enlisted his help to raise £8,000 for a new vicarage. The veteran presenter returned regularly to lead 10-mile sponsored walks in aid of the church and other good causes in Calderdale until the late 1970s.
His lengthy TV career had its roots in Calderdale, with one of his first stints on screen in the 1947 film A Boy, A Girl And A Bike, about a fictional cycling club based in Hebden Bridge.
Sir Jimmy, then a racing cyclist with Leeds Olympic Club, appeared as an extra alongside members of Halifax Road Racing Club.
Derek Browne, honorary president of the Halifax club, said: “This was possibly his first taste of being involved in showbusiness.”
After riding in the first Tour of Britain in 1951, he became a race commentator – the launchpad for his broadcasting career. “I think that gave him a feel for it,” said Mr Browne.
“He really could hold an audience captivated.
“He was a one-off. He could talk the hind leg off a donkey.”
In 1958, Sir Jimmy became a DJ on pirate radio station Radio Luxembourg, where he made his name.
He later became one of the first DJs on BBC Radio 1 and launched Top of the Pops in 1964.
He will be best remembered for making hundreds of people’s dreams come true on Jim’ll Fix It, which ran from 1975 to 1994.
Among them was Queensbury woman Sharon Sadofski, who met her hero Les Mc-Keown on the BBC1 show.
Sir Jimmy fixed it for her to meet the Bay City Rollers singer at a TV studio in London, where he performed a medley of hits for her.
Mrs Sadofski, 47, said: “I shed a tear for Jimmy when I heard.
“It’s so sad. He was a lovely man. He was so nice and he did a marvellous thing for me.”