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Throughout May, The Grand Pier will be lit purple every evening to show its support for the Knife Angel statue situated in Weston’s Italian Gardens. The Knife Angel is visiting Weston-super-Mare for the month of May as part of a nationwide tour to highlight the issue of crime. Read more here.

People all across the world to remember the extraordinary Jill Dando with a 7-day charity tea and cake marathon

Jill’s former hometown of Weston-super-Mare and people globally will host a ‘tea, coffee and cake’ 7-day marathon at various venues to mark the person, life and fast-expanding global good news legacy of Jill Dando this month – 25 years since she died.

Jill showed positivity, enthusiasm, authenticity, humility, kindness, empathy, and ambition to become the ‘smiling face of Britain’, rising to the very top of the BBC before being killed on 26th April 1999.

Now for 7 days beginning Monday 22nd April, people will enjoy tea, coffee and cake while thinking of Jill’s life and expanding good news legacy whilst raising money for mental health charities in her hometown of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset.

Jill loved coffee and walnut cake, but all varieties of cake will be available throughout the week.

The tea, coffee and cake events have already been taken up by The Grand Pier and  Revo Kitchen & Terrace, who have pledged to donate £2 of every cake purchased throughout the 7 days to the chosen charities.

Multiple churches and schools have also agreed to partake in the charity tea and cake marathon, with hopefully hundreds more venues to follow.

On Thursday the 25th April, the Clarence Park Baptist church that hosted Jill’s funeral with family, friends and celebrities will host one of the tea, coffee, and charity cakes event.

In Malawi, Jill Dando student journalists will enjoy their traditional banana cake and share good news stories to the media in celebration.

To end the 7 days of celebrations of Jill’s life and expanding legacy, on Monday 29th April, some 70 selected Jill Dando Journalists will head to Mr Speaker’s Palace in Westminster, London to be hosted by Mr Speaker and guests.

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.”

The timely Jill Dando News started in 2017 out of Jill’s former school Worle Academy and has since expanded to hundreds of children aged 7 to 18 across Somerset and into Africa – a continent Jill had a big heart for. 

The fast-expanding project has been backed by two Prime Ministers, Mr Speaker, and a host of other world figures in a world of bad news and rocketing mental health issues.

Jill Dando News 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 www.goodnewspost.co.uk, and then to the wider Media.

Jill Dando News reporters made history to become 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.

They are also encouraged to follow in the footsteps of Jill with positivity, enthusiasm, authenticity, humility, kindness, empathy, and ambition to become the best in their chosen fields.

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.”

The 25th anniversary week of celebration events are in partnership with 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.

Money raised will go to desperately needed funds for the two charities creaking under rocketing demand for their services in Jill’s former town and county. 

Part of the money will also go to building a library with books in Malawi, Africa which has launched its own Jill Dando News Centre.

It is hoped that hundreds of venues will host tea and cake events during the week. If people cannot get out of their homes, they will be encouraged to enjoy a tea, coffee, and cake and to remember the life and legacy of Jill.

Ellise Hayward, 21, became Jill Dando News’ Disability Correspondent last year.

Despite having cerebral palsy from birth – using her eyes to speak via high-tech Eye-Gaze technology – Ellise finds inspirational stories of people with disabilities and also motivates audiences across the UK with her positivity.

She said: “I thoroughly love my role of being a Jill Dando Journalist. We need more kindness, positivity, and optimism than ever before in the UK and the world.

“Jill Dando was such an optimistic person and journalist. We are delighted her legacy is expanding with such a refreshingly positive ethos that is making the world a better place to live.”

Rosie Hedges, aged 10, from Castle Batch Primary School Academy, interviewed Mr Speaker inside the House of Commons in February. 

She said: “Good news is more important than bad, and the best news is good news. I love reporting and the experiences. “Thank you, Jill, for the legacy. My dad has been teaching me about the good things you believed in, and that lives on today in so many of us.”

Mr Speaker said: “I loved meeting the Jill Dando News reporters – their project of spreading positivity, good news and kindness is a vital message for our times.”

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.”

The Netflix documentary on Jill Dando aired last November and has successfully catapulted Jill’s life and story across the globe into every language and now the legacy project is pressing ahead so people will remember her incredible character, kindness, and positivity.

The seeds of Jill Dando News began when students at Priory Academy, just a short walk from Jill’s childhood home, began writing positive good news stories in 2011, trained by professional journalists including editors and reporters from Jill’s first newspaper the Weston Mercury.

They were spurred on by an encouraging video message to the school from Sir Richard Branson who encouraged its students to keep ‘going for their dreams’ and believing all things are possible.

The project was then dreamed up by Purple Sheep PR in Jill’s former school in 2017 when Worle Academy joined with Priory Academy, with the beginnings of The Priory Learning Trust. 

Former Priory student, Alex Crowther, now 24, helped the Jill Dando News project to expand along with tips and training from news staff at the Weston Mercury, BBC, ITV, Burnham-on-sea.com, Sky News’ and many more.

Alex is now one of Britain’s youngest football club board members at the ambitious Weston-super-Mare FC in Jill’s hometown.

The Jill Dando News project has been backed by two Prime Ministers, Mr Speaker, Sir Cliff Richard, Alan Titchmarsh, and countless others.

Jill Dando News is spreading positivity worldwide in an era where bad news is on the rise and mental health statistics are rocketing.

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 Global Mind Project recently revealed that Britain is the second-most unhappy country in the entire world, scoring slightly better than Uzbekistan. It also came worst off in the whole world in the percentage of people ‘struggling mentally’ category with 39 per cent of people describing themselves as ‘distressed’.

In recent years there has been a massive increase in bad news, large scale addictions to social media and huge rises in adverse mental health conditions.  

Dawn Carey CEO of ICM has had many of their mental health projects publicised by Jill Dando News reporters since 2017. 

She said: “I have loved being interviewed by the Jill Dando News reporters over the years. This brilliant project is very timely and is helping counterbalance all the often-overwhelming negativity out there on social media and elsewhere for people young and old at the moment.”

Jill Dando was one of the best possible role models as well as a most loved British TV journalist who became TV personality of the year in 1997 and who backed a host of charities and causes.

She rose from Worle Academy in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset to the top of BBC News, the Queen of Prime Time TV, loved by millions yet staying humble.

The project is non-political – just with a relentless passion to cheer up a struggling planet in need of good news.

Joshua Keyes, now 18, started at Jill Dando News at Worle Academy when he was only 11. He is now in the world of journalism with a wealth of experience behind him.

Priory Academy student Elijah, now 14, caused a Twitter sensation and 360,000 views when he interviewed Boris Johnson when aged 9 while still at his primary school St Anne’s Church Academy in Weston-super-Mare. 

He made Page 2 of the Sun newspaper wearing his Jill Dando News jacket and the fellow reporters made several UK national front pages.

Jill Dando News’ patrons are currently Nigel Dando, Nick Ross and Emma Britton who have assisted on the journey so far and it is hoped that more will join the fold.

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