Jill Dando's legacy remains in Weston and beyond through student news centres

PUBLISHED: 15:55 25 April 2019

Jill Dando's brother Nigel gave a lecture at the academy in Highbridge. Picture: WESTON MERCURY

Jill Dando's brother Nigel gave a lecture at the academy in Highbridge. Picture: WESTON MERCURY

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Jill Dando's legacy lives on 20 years after her death as student news centres aid the next generation of reporters across the town.

Nigel Dando taking the Jill Dando News Centre out of WCSA and PCSA to pupils at Ashcombe Primary School and their headteacher John Clark to help run their journalism club and produce their Ashcombe Eye newspaper. Picture: WESTON MERCURYNigel Dando taking the Jill Dando News Centre out of WCSA and PCSA to pupils at Ashcombe Primary School and their headteacher John Clark to help run their journalism club and produce their Ashcombe Eye newspaper. Picture: WESTON MERCURY

More than 5,000 children across North Somerset, and in Africa, have been inspired by the life of the former Mercury journalist.

News centres have been built in her honour, the first of which opened at Worle Community School Academy (WCSA), where Jill was a former pupil, in October 2017.

Students aged nine to 18 of Priory Community School, King Alfred School, and primary schools St Anne's Church Academy and Castle Batch Academy have also benefitted.

Jill in the Mercury office in the 1980s. Picture: WESTON MERCURYJill in the Mercury office in the 1980s. Picture: WESTON MERCURY

The aim is to give youngsters the chance to tell positive stories about their peers, boosting literacy skills and teach them about journalism.

The Jill Dando News Centres are simple but effective; youngsters have access to iPads and notepads which enable them to write positive stories across their schools and community.

WATCH: BBC airs documentary on the murder of Jill.

St Annes Church Academy pupils with The Post at their news centre. Picture: WESTON MERCURYSt Annes Church Academy pupils with The Post at their news centre. Picture: WESTON MERCURY

Students are trained by Jill's brother, Nigel Dando, their stories go into their own newspaper, The Good News Post, and are also shared on social media.

Castle Batch Primary School pupils at their news centre. Picture: WESTON MERCURYCastle Batch Primary School pupils at their news centre. Picture: WESTON MERCURY

Nigel said: “This scheme is mind-bogglingly brilliant. Jill would be tickled pink by it all.”

Izzy Simmons, student reporter, added: “We have been working for a long time in preparation for the anniversary.

“For us it is very important we remember Jill Dando and all she stood for in the local community.”

Priory Community School students with The Post. Picture: WESTON MERCURYPriory Community School students with The Post. Picture: WESTON MERCURY

The youngsters' work has highlighted Jill's career – boosting positivity, kindness, and good news stories.

A number of stories have been picked up by publications across the world, with one story being featured in Time magazine in America.

African children in Malawi also have a news centre after Priory English teacher and news centre leader Sarah O'Gorman visited the country in August.

Youngster in Malwai have their own Jill Dando News Centre. Picture: Jill Dando News CentreYoungster in Malwai have their own Jill Dando News Centre. Picture: Jill Dando News Centre

MORE: Can you help to improve Jill's Garden?

Students have been following the development of a community livestock empowerment programme where three rural villages living in extreme poverty have been challenged to raise and breed two pigs.

The Jill Dando News Centre at WCSA. Picture: Shane DeanThe Jill Dando News Centre at WCSA. Picture: Shane Dean

Castle Batch Primary School Academy pupil Shannon Kingston, aged 11, said: “The Jill Dando News Centres are a really good place to be, it's great to make good friends and it's really positive.”

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