Amazing Grace


This week was a very sad week as I attended the funeral of a dear friend, Gracie. She had a great life and passed away at the age of 89 but had the mind of a young 40-year-old. We go back a long way and I have such wonderful memories to hold onto forever.

We first met when I was 18 years of age and in a summer show at the Westcliffe Theatre in Clacton-On-Sea. I was working for a producer called Francis Golightly (of all the shows I have done in my career as a dancer/singer, my two seasons here were by far the best with great memories and, oh, my fabulous costumes!) and Gracie was Francis' best friend.

I was in digs in Colchester and they were not great (that’s an understatement) so dear Francis came to the rescue as he cared so much about his dancers. I took a room in Gracie's house and we just bonded. I remember rolling up with a huge suitcase (no change there then!) and Francis carrying it up the stairs for me  to a little room that became my home for four months.

It was so cosy with such a comfortable bed that made it feel like home. She was a lady of incredible character, humour and passion for life. Trust me, she said it as it was. Good "digs", as they called it in those days, were not always great and at 18 you are a little naive and your landlord was always a little strange. Boy, I could tell some fabulous stories on theatre landlords, but I will save those for another blog.

Let me tell you Gracie was no ordinary "landlord" but a wonderful woman who encouraged me to live life to the full, be strong, and say it as it is but keep the "amazing nature and character I had and being kind with it." These were her words not mine.

She also helped me through a few tough times. To this day, the advice she gave me is invaluable. Every night after the show she would wait up for me and we would have a cup of tea in bed and I would tell her all the fun things that went on during the show. She wanted every detail and we would laugh so loud we would ache and have tears rolling down our faces. Sometimes we would still be up at 2am…maybe that’s why I am definitely a night owl.

She would come and see the show often and give me the funniest feedback and see things in the show that you would never imagine existed. She had an amazing life and, being a war child, education wasn’t important but work to her was. She worked so hard throughout her life then started a clothes shop with Francis and the rest is history.

She loved antiques and, for many years, worked at an antique centre. I would call her often and listen to her stories for hours. Trust me, she was a great story-teller and should have been on the stage. I always used to think she would have been a great narrator.

She adored Larry, my husband, and used to call him her toyboy. Gosh, I have tears down my cheeks as I write this blog. For those in her life that had this incredible ability to see past Gracie's very normal appearance as a mum, wife, landlord, grandmother and friend, were very lucky to experience and share the life of a truly unique individual that is very rare to come across.

My amazing Grace was one of those. I will miss her dearly and my love goes out to her wonderful family who will also hold fond memories in their hearts.



  1. sylvia April 13, 2011 at 8:32 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    What a lovely blog.You had me nearly crying reading it.What a joy it is to have met such a special lady and so keep those special memories forever in your heart.You are also a special person and I love listening to you on QVC.Please let us know how your wee doggies are and Take Care x

  2. Una April 15, 2011 at 8:28 am -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    I had tears running down my face reading your blog. Your Amazing Grace sounds like a very special lady.
    I lost a very dear old friend in Novemeber, and I miss her every day. She was 86, and passed very suddenly. Although there was a 40 year age gap, we just clicked, and would spend hours putting the world to rights. She had a wicked sense of humour, a very sharp tongue, and I just loved her to bits.
    We have our memories though, and I count myself very lucky to have known her, as you do with Grace.
    Una x

  3. Linda Glasgow April 15, 2011 at 1:23 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    This is the first time i’ve left you a comment but your blog about dear Gracie has moved me so much i just had to tell you.Its wonderful having older friend who give great advice and who you love to bits but unfortunately because of the age difference there is always a time when we dont have them any more, but as you have said we have great memories and wisdom to remember them by.I had my own Gracie in my life and have also lost them(but will never forget them) so completely empathise with how your feeling just now – times a great healer and all the wonderful memories kick in eventually and we just get on with life but we never forget. I’m a girly girl – like yourself – and love everything that is QVC beauty/handbags(love Charlie Lapson). I loved your Nails inc TSV launch with the lovely Heather – it was a lovely girly hour (and a bit) – i had a lot of similar colours in the TSV(i bought the glitter and metals collections at Christmas) so didnt go for that(was great value though) – i went for the Sunshine collection 223 975 which has the new spring/summer lime green colour Hyde Park Gate in – like you up until the last year or so i was a french polish girl but have suddenly found colour and the sky’s the limit – i’m going to experiment with my crackles(got them too) with the yellow,oranges and lime colours – i must confess to matching polish colours to outfits in my wardrobe the other day – i had a ball but again like you i rely alot on the greiges – Jermyn st is a favourite as well as Leightons Supermodel(what did we do before we had them eh!!). Its been lovely speaking to you JillX – three cheers for GracieX Give your boys a big hug(i love dogs) Love Linda Glasgow

  4. Mrs Jane Smith April 15, 2011 at 2:59 pm -  Reply

    She sounds a wonderful person I sure the world will be a sad place without her xxx

  5. Cheryl April 15, 2011 at 10:25 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    Sorry about the loss of your dear friend she sounded an amazing woman. She will always be with you in your heart and memories. Your life is richer for knowing and loving her.
    Take care
    Love and hugs
    Cheryl in Manchester

  6. Linda Marshall April 18, 2011 at 3:51 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    You had me in tears with your lovely blog about Amazing Grace.
    She sounded like a lovely person,i am so pleased that she was kind to you.Please write a blog about your boys as i have missed hearing about them
    Love Linda

  7. Debz April 20, 2011 at 9:43 am -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    I’m so sorry to hear about your beloved Grace. She sounded like a truly wonderful person.
    I lost my Granddad 7 years ago at the grand old age of 93 and I miss him every day. I thought he would always be in my life and when he died it was like a piece of me had gone too. He was always so wise and funny and I just wish I’d told him how much I loved him more often.
    I still feel he is with me and I still talk to him and ask his advice.
    Take care Jill and remember that those we love never truly leave us they live on in our hearts.
    Lots of love

  8. christine nicol April 20, 2011 at 9:44 pm -  Reply

    hi jill, so sorry about your loss, but you know she wouldn’t want you to mourn her but just to celebrate what you had together,it sounds as if you both were good for each other.
    take care, love chris

  9. Susan May 7, 2011 at 9:19 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill,
    I just had to write and say how well you are looking at the minute. Your olive green ruffle top was stunning on you today. You’re looking very radiant..quite the day for radiance between you, Anne and Catherine! All looked gorgeous today!
    Hope you’re ok?
    Susan x

  10. Hilary Keeling May 10, 2011 at 3:24 pm -  Reply

    Dear Jill, Most of the other presenters reply to the comments on their blogs but you don’t seem to. Hilary

  11. Susan May 17, 2011 at 7:58 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill,
    Hope all’s ok. You seem chipper on the telly though so hoping it is. Just saw you on Smashbox and ADORE your animal print one strap top! Where did it come from!?
    Susan x

  12. Clare wallace May 29, 2011 at 8:04 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    Just been watching you on the birkinstock hour and loved your dress, where did you get it?

  13. jillian chalkley June 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm -  Reply

    hi jill you had a dress on the other day from tiana b it was stunning can i have the item number please . love jill

  14. Susan June 18, 2011 at 8:05 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill,
    How are you? I know you’re not much of a blogger but you’re going to have to start because we just love your clothes too much clearly and want to know where they’re from! I just watched some of your new Gabby Skye’s show and LOVED the dress you chose. Just had to say how perfect the choice of presenter you were. Elegant, classy and demure. You and Ali K I would say. I love the range and it’s nice that you’ve done one for more classy taste or occasions.
    Take care,
    Susan x

  15. sylvia June 22, 2011 at 10:51 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    Are you leaving QVC? I noticed your name has disapeared of the presenters blog. I hope you are not leaving as I love watching your shows.
    Take Care Jill x

  16. Gary Brazowski July 9, 2012 at 8:47 pm -  Reply

    Hi Jill
    I actually found some old pictures that I took of the people performing during the 1977 summer season, most are backstage shots some of you with the other chorus line members, Some of Francis and Roy , At the time I was the boyfriend of one of the dancers and my hobby was photography, if you would like to have them your welcome, they will probably mean more to you than me.

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