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Old friend had been looking forward to welcoming Sir Jimmy Savile back to Ilkley
The death of Sir Jimmy Savile was “a very sad day”, says a close friend, who was hoping to welcome him back to Ilkley to switch on this year’s Christmas lights.
Owner of Ilkley gifts and homewares shop Opulent Designs, David Giddings, says Sir Jimmy was looking forward to pushing the plunger to turn on the town’s lights for the third time.
Despite his recent illness, he had been telling people he was “going back to work” with the Ilkley date on November 19, and was excited about the occasion.
“He’ll be greatly missed by me and obviously other people who knew him,” said Mr Giddings.
“He did give a lot of sparkle and love to people, and he had a lot of friends, as well as his family. He chose to live on his own, but he was a very sociable, happy person. All the people who knew him would say that.”
Mr Giddings had known Jimmy Savile for a number of years.
He had been to stay with the celebrity at his holiday home in Scarborough during the summer, and was among a number of friends who saw him last week.
He had been planning to take him out for a daytrip at the weekend. Mr Giddings said: “I went for lunch with a colleague, who is also a heart specialist at Leeds General Infirmary, who is a friend of Jimmy’s, and before we returned to his flat in Roundhay we got some food and shopping in for him. He was particularly after us bringing him some strawberry ice cream.”
“I spoke to him on Friday evening in preparation to take him out on Saturday afternoon for a run up the Dales, coming through Otley, Ilkley and out to Barden. I told him I’d got a copy of the Ilkley Gazette with a picture of him in, for the lights on the 19th, and he said ‘that’s great, I can’t wait to see that’.
“I said I would ring him at 11, and he said ‘okey dokey, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Another heart specialist had been to see Sir Jimmy at his home on Friday evening, and had wanted to admit him hospital but he had declined, suggesting he could go on Saturday if he was still unwell.
Mr Giddings said Sir Jimmy was advised to rest and drink plenty of water – and he had also asked for a beer from the fridge.
“He was found at about 11 o’clock on Saturday, he had passed away peacefully in the night.”
Mr Giddings said despite being in hospital recently, and having treatment for pneumonia, Sir Jimmy had appeared “quite bright”.
A group of close friends met at a Leeds restaurant on Monday night – which would have been his 85th birthday – and held a minute’s silence in his memory.