Judith Dando, cousin and best friend of late journalist, Jill Dando, is running the London Marathon for the British Heart Foundation on April 28th 2019 in her memory.
On 26th April 1999, Jill Dando was fatally shot on the doorstep of her home in Fulham. Judith Dando is now marking the 20th anniversary of Jill’s murder by aiming to raise £10,000 for the BHF, with the support of those who knew her from near or far.
Jill Dando and the BHF
Jill Dando was born with a hole in her heart and underwent life saving surgery as a young child. Because of this, the BHF was close to Jill’s heart and she was an avid supporter of the BHF and fundraised for us on many occasions.
Judith said: “Choosing which charity to raise money for in Jill’s memory was easy. Living with her, I was familiar with the huge scar that ran down her chest which was an everyday reminder of her life-saving surgery. She knew that if she hadn’t had heart surgery as a child, she wouldn’t have been able to do all of the amazing things she did.”
Judith and Jill’s close relationship
Judith and Jill were only 18 months apart in age and became close friends as young adults. They were best friends and when Jill was offered her first job at the BBC they moved in together in London. Shortly after, they bought a house together where they lived whilst Jill’s journalism career was blossoming.
Judith said: “Jill was loved by all who knew her which is why I and the whole family found her death so incomprehensible. It was a terrible shock and one that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”
The London Marathon
Judith wanted to mark the life of her much loved cousin on this anniversary by undertaking a significant personal challenge. Although Judith has never enjoyed running, with this year’s London Marathon falling only two days after the tragic anniversary of Jill’s untimely death, she decided that taking on the event was the perfect way to pay tribute to Jill.
She said: “I know that if she were still with us today Jill would want to raise money for the BHF, so I’m doing this for her. Running the London Marathon will be very emotional as it will be the culmination of a week of events to mark the anniversary. I know it will be tough but I am so glad to be doing this for her.”
Karen McDonnell, Marathon Event Co-ordinator at the BHF says "We are thrilled that Judith has chosen to run for the BHF in Jill’s name. Jill was an avid supporter and it’s truly fantastic to see her commitment to our cause kept alive through Judith. All money raised by Judith will help fund life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases, which currently account for one in four deaths each year in the UK.
We are hugely grateful to Judith and wish her the very best of luck for the big day!"
Life saving research
By taking on the gruelling 26.2 miles of the London Marathon, Judith is raising money to fund vital, life saving research into heart and circulatory diseases.
Jill was born with congenital heart disease and underwent major heart surgery as a child, surgery made possible by the research the British Heart Foundation funds. This surgery enabled her to live life to the very fullest.
At least 4,000 babies are diagnosed in the UK each year with congenital heart disease - where heart defects develop in the womb before a baby is born. When the BHF was formed in 1961 the majority of babies born with a congenital heart condition died before their first birthday. BHF research has helped to turn this around, and now 8 out of 10 babies survive to adulthood.
Sponsor Judith to take part in the London Marathon