Sir Jimmy Savile's coffin was carried into church by Royal Marines today as thousands of mourners lined the streets to give the entertainer an extraordinary final send-off.
The Reverend Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, said Sir Jimmy had a 'colourful and charitable life' as he addressed the congregation. In the homily, the Rt Rev Monsignor Kieran Heskin said the entertainer can face eternal life with confidence.
'His life story was an epic of giving - giving of time, giving of talent, giving of treasure', he said.
He added he hoped God would 'fix it that Jimmy would be given the ultimate reward - a place in heaven'.
The coffin is carried out of the cathedral after the service to commemorate the entertainer's life ends.
Frank Bruno and DJs Tony Prince and Mike Read were among the mourners as 700 people packed into St Anne's Cathedral in the city this afternoon for his funeral.
In a surreal scene, his gold casket was earlier driven past his old home on Consort Terrace - now in the centre of Leeds' student population - while students leaning out of a window held up a homemade 'RIP Jim' sign. Frank Bruno said Jimmy Savile was 'one in a million'. The entertainer died two days short of his 85th birthday last month. Speaking after the funeral, Mr Bruno said: 'He was a very special man. If he was here he would be taking over,saying: "Now then. Now then."
DJ Mike Read said: 'It was amazing. What a turn out all over the city. It was a wonderful service - just great - and all done in the best spirit. 'We saw tears, a lot of memories, and people from all walks of life. How can you encapsulate the life of someone like Jim into two hours? You can't. But it was brilliant. 'Jim tried his best. He lived life to the full.'
Sir Jimmy will be buried in Scarborough tomorrow at a 45 degree angle to the sea, as he requested. Inside the church, a blown-up picture of the entertainer, in black and white apart from rose-tinted trademark glasses, adorned the space to the left of the altar as well as on the order of service. The bustle in the grand building, the large lighting rigs and strategically placed video cameras indicated this was going to be no ordinary funeral.
Among the dark colours of the mourners, one man stood out in a Jim'll Fix It badge, red trainers and a bright yellow jumper emblazoned in red with 'Jimmy's Eager Helper'.
Rev Roche sprinkled the coffin with holy water before it was carried to the front. As he addressed the congregation, he said: 'Today Jimmy lies at the front of this cathedral where in former years he had remained discreetly hidden at the back in order not to disturb people's prayers or distract their attention from what was taking place at the altar. 'This afternoon, he occupies the first place always in our thoughts, affections and prayers.' In the homily, Monsignor Kieran Heskin said: 'Sir Jimmy Savile can face eternal life with confidence. 'His life story was an epic of giving - giving of time, giving of talent, giving of treasure.' He said he hoped God would 'fix it that Jimmy would be given the ultimate reward - a place in heaven'. Just a few hundred yards before the cortege arrived at the cathedral, it stopped outside Leeds General Infirmary before heading on to St Anne's.
Sir Jimmy raised large amounts of cash for the hospital and spent hours volunteering there as a porter.
Sir Jimmy's coffin is removed from the hearse ready to be carried into the cathedral in Leeds.
As the hearse approached, people working in the shops and offices around the infirmary came out to line the streets. The cortege stopped briefly in front of a Union flag flying at half-mast.
Hospital staff lined the streetside garden each side of the flagpole and watched in silence as the line of black cars passed. Minutes before, the cortege stopped outside Sir Jimmy's mother's old house in the Woodhouse area of the city. People lining the streets broke into spontaneous applause as the hearse carrying the coffin slowly approached the cathedral. The hearse was adorned with a wreath of white roses on its roof. The crowd then maintained a respectful silence as relatives of the broadcasting veteran left the seven funeral cars. But they again burst into applause as seven Royal Marines marched forward to carry Sir Jimmy's coffin into the cathedral.
Later Sir Jimmy will be buried with a Royal Marines medal and green beret and a Help for Heroes wristband and will be wearing his own clothes. Speaking outside the cathedral, DJ Mike Read said: 'Today should be a celebration. He'd have loved it, a showman to the end.'
'It started off as a straightforward family funeral,' nephew Roger Foster said. 'The funeral director pointed out that to me he was an uncle; to everybody else he was a national treasure. We just tried to read his mind and give him what we thought he would have wanted.'
Among the visitors was close friend Howard Silverman, who chose Jimmy as best man at his wedding. Standing beside the queue of people he told me: 'He was friends with Prince Charles and other royalty, with Elvis and the Beatles, and with Mrs Thatcher. But his good true friends were just ordinary people.' The hefty casket, bedecked with white Yorkshire roses and bearing a crucifix, is galvanised inside to help stop it rusting. Seems as if he is planning to stick around for a while, someone remarked yesterday. Everyone was keen to point out it was made of painted steel, not real gold – 'just one final piece of bling', as Mr Foster described it. Outside in the rain, Richard Firth, 34, from Reading, had donned a Jimmy Savile tribute tracksuit and headband, then caught the 5.50am train from London to join the throng. Mr Firth remembers watching Jim'll Fix It on TV as a child (although he never managed to fulfil his Fix-It dream of training with Leeds United and Arsenal goalkeeper John Lukic). Why had he come? 'He's the last of a kind,' he said. 'Modern day celebrities are all about themselves. Sir Jimmy was about everybody else.' An estimated 5,000 came and went during the day – so many that the visiting deadline was extended.
You had only to look at the mix to understand how many different walks of life Sir Jimmy touched. There was a tramp, an airline pilot, a nun in a wheelchair alongside an Afghanistan veteran walking on carbon fibre legs; and a woman who came to apologise for treading on Savile's toe once during a charity marathon. Later came mothers in pushchairs, a heavily tattooed punk rocker plus a member of a 1960s pop group so obscure that even the man in the casket might have had trouble recalling them. And, of course, a Jim'll Fix It badge holder, a lucky winner among the 20,000 a week who wrote in for Jim to fix it for them. Today the coffin will be driven to his funeral service in the city's St Anne's Cathedral, prior to burial tomorrow. Royal Marines will carry it to the hearse and sound the Last Post. It will pass his late mother's house before being taken to the foreshore at Scarborough, where he gave clear instructions to be planted at a 45-degree angle, overlooking the sea from his favourite hilltop. There will be a headstone to mark the grave. The inscription he requested? 'It was good while it lasted,' it will read. They fixed that for him, too.
FROM COAL MINER TO TOP OF THE POPS: THE LIFE OF SIR JIMMY
He left school at 14 and when war broke out he enlisted as a coal miner for the war effort.
An underground explosion damaged his spine so badly that he had to give up mining.
Instead he became a local entertainer, organising what he described as Britain’s first disco in 1948. His work in the dance-halls was eventually spotted and he was asked to move on to radio where he rapidly acquired national fame, first with Radio Luxembourg and then BBC Radio 1. He later competed as a semi-professional sportsman, taking part in the 1951 Tour of Britain cycle race and a professional wrestler. He fought 107 bouts but won just seven, insisting it was never fixed. In 1964, Sir Jimmy presented the very first edition of Top Of The Pops. In the 70s, he started a 20-year run as host of Jim'll Fix It, working miracles for more than 1,500 children. He raised staggering amounts for charity - his accountant lost track after £40million