The body of a lonely woman was found ten days after her death when a BBC radio newsreader noticed she had not made her regular call to the station.
The woman, known to presenters as ‘Clara from Bude’, called BBC Radio Cornwall every Saturday and Sunday at exactly 8.10am without fail.
Clara told newsreader Joanna Twist and the production team that they were like family to her, as she didn’t have any relatives apart from a stepson who lived in Australia. The radio team were among less than a handful of mourners to attend her funeral.
Joanna became concerned when Clara failed to check in as normal one weekend and called police, who discovered her body at her home. It is believed she had been dead for ten days but could have remained undiscovered for much longer had the radio station not alerted authorities.
Weekend morning presenter Donna Birrell wrote about the incident on her blog. She said: ‘For the last few years, a lady who we’ll call “Clara from Bude” has been a regular listener.
‘In fact, she used to send the weekend team £5 occasionally to buy biscuits – I know this is not allowed, but when we protested she was upset and said that she couldn’t get out to bring us biscuits herself and that it gave her pleasure to do it.
‘Clara also called at 8.10 every single Saturday and Sunday to have a chat with Jo our newsreader. She told her we were like her family and that the only other family she had was a stepson and his wife in Australia.
‘Jo used to give her advice if she was unwell or if she had had medical letters which she couldn’t quite understand and Paul, our weatherman, used to give her personal forecasts.
‘And so it went on. Proper chats which obviously meant the world to Clara.’
Donna said that at the end of January, Joanna told Clara she was going away so would speak when she returned, but on her first weekend back at work, no call came. The newsreader attempted to call her but got no reply.
Donna said: ‘Jo was very concerned at the lack of contact and on her day off on the Monday, she tried to call her again and when there was still no reply, she called the police and gave them Clara’s address.
‘Unfortunately, the police discovered Clara’s body on the floor of her home.’
Joanna attended Clara’s funeral alongside her BBC Radio Cornwall colleague Jack, who were the only people there apart from her stepson and his wife and the funeral directors, Donna said.
They played Dusty Springfield as her coffin was lowered into the ground, a singer often requested by Clara.
Stephanie Marshall, head of the BBC in the West and South West, said: ‘This is a truly sad story and I’d like to send deepest condolences to the family of Clara from everyone at BBC Radio Cornwall.
‘I’m glad that the station had such a big impact on Clara’s life, particularly in her later years which can be isolating for many.
‘Our listeners have always been and will always be the most important part of our radio stations. This is a great example of the importance of BBC local radio stations to the communities they serve, and the unique value they offer to listeners.’
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