THE body of a regular listener to a BBC radio station was only found thanks to a worried newsreader.
The woman known to the broadcasting team as ‘Clara from Bude’ was a huge fan of BBC Radio Cornwall and used to ring at exactly 8.10am every Saturday and Sunday to talk to newsreader Joanna Twist.
Clara didn’t have any family apart from a stepson in Australia, so Joanna and other presenters would give her advice and be on hand for a friendly chat.
But the newsreader started getting concerned when Clara stopped calling.
Weekend morning presenter Donna Birrell 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 8.10am 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 step-son 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 added in her blog: “At the end of January, Jo told Clara she was going away so would speak when she returned.
"However, on Jo’s first weekend back, there was no call from Clara at 08.10. Jo was concerned and called her, but again no reply."
"Because Clara had been such a regular feature of weekend mornings, 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.”
Clara’s body had lain undiscovered for ten days and if Jo had not called the police, it’s thought she wouldn’t have been discovered for some time.
Donna said: “Jo and another colleague, Jack, attended Clara’s funeral last week – they were the only people there apart from her stepson and his wife and the funeral directors."
“As Clara’s body was lowered into the ground on a blustery hillside in north Cornwall, Jack played Dusty Springfield on his mobile phone – Dusty had often been requested by Clara.”
Donna said she had shared the heart-breaking story to demonstrate how “absolutely vital” BBC Radio Cornwall and other local radio stations are as part of the communities they serve.
She added: “It’s easy to court listening figures and celebrity but it’s just as important – if not more important – to connect with people behind those closed doors.”
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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