Goodbye to a true British eccentric who inspired many

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If the mark of a man is the manner of his departure, then the extravagant nature of Sir Jimmy Savile’s leaving of this world confirms all that was so heart-warmingly eccentric about his life.

His burial in Scarborough tomorrow – which will be attended not only by the great and the good but by the ‘humble’ whose lives he touched – has been preceded by an extraordinary lying-in-state in a Leeds hotel.

Some might consider putting Sir Jimmy’s golden casket on show, flanked by his unfinished last cigars, to be over-the-top or even mawkish.

They will, though, be in the considerable minority.

The people from this area whose personal memories we report today are but a few among the millions whose lives were enhanced by this extraordinary character who began life with nothing and ended it lying-in-state like a king.

They include 83-year-old Jim Rhodes, of Waterlooville, who lived near to young Jimmy in Leeds and remembers the little boy who used to be given a couple of Oxo cubes to take home to his mum – the beloved ‘Duchess’ – such was the family’s poverty.

The enigma of the colourful DJ, whose name will forever be synonymous with Top of the Pops, is exemplified in Jim’s memory of meeting his famous namesake again, many years later.

The little lad who went on to fame and fortune made a quick enquiry about 10 shillings loaned all those years ago and then turned on his heels and left.

Perhaps few could really get close to the man in terms of knowing quite what he was all about and what made him tick.

But millions upon millions had an instant affinity with him through his radio work, his hugely-popular Jim’ll Fix It TV series and the stories of his dedicated work with hospitals.

His lying-in-state wasn’t actually a grandiose wish on his behalf, but a recognition that so many people would wish to say a personal farewell.

There have been few like him – a quintessential British eccentric who achieved stardom but retained humility. Goodbye Jim.