THOUSANDS of fans have filed past Sir Jimmy Savile’s casket, as he lies in state at the Queen’s Hotel, Leeds.
By lunchtime yesterday, around 2,000 people had already been in to see the magnificent steel gold-coloured coffin in the Queen’s Lounge.
One of the pallbearers was Robert Morphet, managing director of Joseph A Hey & Sons of Bradford, who have been dealing with the funeral arrangements.
All of the men who carried the casket into the hotel were from the family firm, including John Benson, who will be the lead funeral director tomorrow for the burial in Scarborough.
He is the gentleman who will lead the cortege on foot from beneath the Grand Hotel, in Foreshore Road, as far as the roundabout at Luna Park.
Speaking to the Evening News, Mr Morphet said: “It all went very well. The steel casket was very heavy and six of us carried it in.
“It was good to get things started, what with all the anticipation and planning that has gone into it.
“It’s an honour and a great privilege to be involved.”
Mr Morphet added that there was steady stream of well-wishers filing past the coffin all day.
Collection buckets in the room were set up to raise money for Help for Heroes.
The doors opened to the venue at 9.45am and response was so good the hotel decided to extend the opening hours from 4.30pm until 6pm.
Sir Jim’s nephew, retired headteacher Roger Foster, told how he had chosen a gold-coloured coffin as his uncle’s “final piece of bling”.
He said: “We had to read his mind to see what he would want. In his life he used bling, it was the tool of his trade.”
He told how Sir Jimmy is being buried in a tracksuit, wearing a medal and holding the green beret he was awarded for bravery after he completed the Royal Marines Commando speed march in the 1970s.
He also has his rosary beads and is wearing a Help for Heroes wristband.
During yesterday’s events, one fan was so moved that he burst into tears as he came out into the open air.
Bernard Robinson, 68, was in a band called Five Man Cargo when he was in his twenties and said he owed his musical career to Jimmy.
Through tears, he said: “God Bless you Jimmy Boy. He said to me, ‘If you want something, go out and get it’ and thanks to him, I did it.
“As a musician I met Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones.”
He first got to know Jimmy when he used to DJ at the nearby Mecca disco.
Peter Finnegan, 67, came to the event dressed up as Santa Claus.
The married father-of-one, who used to have his own fruit and veg stall, said: “I came to say thanks for all the good work he’s done and all the joy he gave to people.”
The Headingley Suite in the hotel was set up for fans to sign the Book of Condolence.
One entry from Patsy Lyons said: “Rest in peace Sir Jimmy. Never did get on
“Jim’ll Fix It. Lol xxx (What a good man).”
Sir Jim’s funeral will take place today at St Anne’s Cathedral in Leeds at 2pm. He will be buried in Woodlands Cemetery, Scarborough, tomorrow at 1pm.