With very great sadness,
Chris and I learned that our dear friend Jenni Baynton had passed away suddenly
in West Middlesex hospital, on Saturday, July 15th. Even Jenni's closest friends
were not aware that she was gravely ill.
I am sorry that Jenni
and I only knew each other for a short time. We first stood next to each other
on Walton pier during the Big L '97 Summer of Love broadcast, but even though
she appears in some of my photographs, we never actually met at the time. Jenni
and her brother John were amongst the unfortunate people who, because of weather
conditions, were never successful in getting aboard the Yeoman Rose.
During the next Radio London RSL, from St Katharine's Dock, Jenni was delighted
to assist in the station shop on the Ocean Defender, with another Big
L '97 friend, Pauline Miller, and this time, we did get to meet. Jenni's
first love was always Big L, but she adored and was a staunch supporter of all
offshore radio. My next encounter with Jenni and Pauline was when we joined
an Anorak day trip down the Thames to visit the old sea forts.
Jenni's story of Big L '97 and her hilarious account of how she joined the Caroline Support Group and came to be a volunteer worker aboard the Ross Revenge, give great insight into the kind of warm and witty person she was.
Jenni was a wonderfully funny, bright, cheerful and lovely lady. She always succeeded in looking glamorous, even amidst the muck and mire of rusty radio ships. Jenni was also a great cook, who mischievously enhanced the crust of a pie she made for fellow volunteers aboard the Ross with the words, "Big L - 266"!
For my part, life will never be the same without the silly and hilarious knee-mails that Jenni and I frequently exchanged. I shall always treasure them.
Both Chris and I were honoured that Jenni was able to be with us to celebrate our respective fiftieth birthdays, and are deeply saddened that we shall never be able to return the compliment. A bunch of us enjoyed a brilliant Sixties weekend at Brighton last August - an experience which we aim to repeat this year. It won't be the same without Jenni.
Left: Happy days. Jenni, Mary
and Pauline celebrate Mary's birthday, November 1999.
On behalf of Jenni's Big L friends, Chris and I would like to thank Radio Caroline for the touching and fitting tribute which they broadcast for Jenni on Sunday, July 16th. We would also like to send our heartfelt sympathy to Jenni's family.
We have placed Jenni's Memorial Page in the Big L section of the Radio London site, where she will always have a home. Anyone who would like to add their own memories to this page, is welcome to do so.
Sail on, Jenni. We
shall miss you terribly.
Big L love,
from Mary and Chris
Jenni's funeral was as her family had planned it to be a loving,
upbeat and informal send-off that perfectly summed up a sunny and mischievous
Such was Jenni's popularity that it was 'standing room only' in the chapel, with many offshore radio friends present to say their farewells. The service commenced with the 'Big Lil' Sonowaltz and included the hymns 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' and 'Lord of All Hopefulness'.
A moving family tribute was read by her brother-in-law, Laurie. Those of us who had only had the pleasure of knowing our friend for a short time, learnt more of her early childhood and her career in the WRNS. Laurie emphasised what an enormous impact the Big L '97 broadcast had made on Jenni's life; the fun and friendships resulting from her involvement in Radio London and Radio Caroline had brought a wealth of happiness to her remaining years. The family agreed that whenever Jenni spoke to them about her offshore radio exploits, she positively glowed with enjoyment.
The service concluded with Jenni's favourite Big L jingle, 'Smooth Sailing', followed by 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' from 'Monty Python's Life of Brian'. No song could more aptly describe the ever-positive outlook of our dear Jenni. As we filed out of the chapel, we placed single roses beside the casket and each bid a personal farewell.
As I wrote the signature that Jenni knew so well in her memorial book, I wondered whether anyone had ever before drawn a picture of a pair of knees in such unlikely circumstances. It was the sort of silly touch that made the send-off one that Jenni would have appreciated very much.
August 14th on Big L 2000 was dedicated to Jenni. A special tribute was broadcast at noon, including the song 'Once Upon A Dream' by Billy Fury. Jenni had greatly enjoyed seeing The Billy Fury Experience with Colin Gold in the role of Billy.
I'm so sorry to hear the sad news
about Jenni, but it will be a good thing that you will be able to pay tribute
to her as part of the Radio London broadcast.
I don't remember her personally so don't quite feel able to say anything specific but my thoughts are with you and please convey my deepest sympathies to her friends and family.
My best wishes
Many thanks for your e-mail about the sad death of Jenni Baynton. I had never met Jenni, but over the years I have met so many kind and wonderful people in former pop pirate radio circles. One does not always agree with everything each of us does or says, but there is clearly an invisible bond that links us all, with our hobbies, profession and the memories of those bygone years.
The old cliché of Free Radio is always being bandied about, but we were perhaps privileged to witness an episode in broadcasting history that will clearly never ever be repeated.
May I offer my most sincere condolences to you and all Jenni's friends and family on this very sad occasion. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.
Andy Cadier, aka Martin Kayne.
Dear Mary & Chris,
I have been unable to visit the Radio London site for a while and when I logged on today and read the news about the passing of your friend Jenni, I was deeply saddened for you. So many people pass through our lives and it is not until they are no longer there that we realise how much they had given to us when they were with us. One thing I do know is that radio signals travel beyond the furthest reaches of space and time and, who knows, perhaps the spirit of Jenni will converge with the sound of the stations that she loved so well.
My deepest sympathy to you both and to Jenni's family and the rest of her friends.
Yours sincerely, Steve Young
I am so saddened by the most unwelcome news of the sudden death of Jenni. Our family is greatly diminished by her leaving us.
She was a great lady with a keen sense of fun and her support for all things 'off-shore' indefatigable. She will be sorely missed. It is fitting that she should always be remembered on this memorial page of the official Radio London website.
My sympathies and condolences to Jenni's family and to Chris and Mary, Pauline and Dave, who have lost a good friend.
Dear Mary and Chris
How sad that someone with Jenni's joie de vivre should be taken from us too soon. But then as someone said only the good die young.
I know how you, and her family and friends will be feeling I lost my best friend at the age of 38. It never seems fair when someone we love dies. But she was your friend and you cannot be robbed of the great memories of her. I am truly sorry that I never got to meet Jenni - I'd heard so much about her it seemed as if I knew her well.
Hum 'smooth sailing' for her on Tuesday, will you? I'm glad there will be a tribute to her on Big L it seems the most fitting memorial that there could be, and I'm sure she'd be very touched to know it was happening.
Love to you all.
We apologise to Tony that his message did not appear here sooner. It did not arrive until 30/07/00 and appears to have been delayed by e-mail delivery problems.
I was shocked to hear on Caroline
on July 16th that Jenni had died. The last time I saw her she was recovering
from her hip operation. Please pass my sympathy on to Dave and the family. Life
is very precious, Caroline, the music and Free Radio has been something that
has made it so much more worthwhile. What a pity that Jenni did not live to
enjoy more of it and see the fruition of the Radio London 2000 broadcast.
Thank you for letting me know about Jenni. I had tried to contact her on a couple of occasions but did not know that she was in hospital. I am very sad to now learn of her death. I always found her to be a very pleasant and happy person and ALWAYS very enthusiastic about Offshore Radio, in particular Radio London and Radio Caroline. I am sure we will all miss her a great deal and it is a great relief to learn that she did not suffer in pain.
Dear Pauline, Mary and Chris,
I was so sorry to hear the sad news about Jenni. I got a message via my mobile on Monday afternoon from Dave Francis. I still feel very numb as I'm writing this to you as I still don't believe this has happened.
The last time I saw her was last
year in Clacton after she'd had that operation on her hip, which then seemed
to make life more comfortable for her and she looked content.
What else can I say, except Jenni was a lovely lady. We were all very fond of her, she made a lot of people happy with her smiles. We will all miss her very much, she was a true friend.
God bless you, Jenni.
Colin Lees xxx
It was a very sad day for me to hear of Jenni's passing. I stayed on board the Ross Revenge for two weekends with Jenni and others, in that very short time I found Jenni to be an exceptionally nice lady with a great sense of humour.
Jenni was a truly genuine supporter of offshore radio and as a fitting tribute to her memory, I hope we all do more to bring Radio Caroline back as a full time broadcaster.
Finally, Jenni, I salute your courage.
John Knight, Radio Caroline Sales
Dear Mary and Chris,
I, like yourselves and so many others, was shocked to learn about the death of Jenni.
I didn't know her nearly as well
as you, or many who have already sent their condolences. We met only a handful
of times, the most recent being late last year, when I gave Jenni a lift to
your 50th birthday party, Mary.
The tributes already written speak for themselves. Jenni was a bright, cheery person, full of energy and full of total commitment to the causes and continuing memory of Big L and Radio Caroline. She was the type of person that you don't forget once you have met them.
Part of coming to terms with the shock of her passing is that she died at such a young age.
I know that her memory will live on alongside the continuing work and dedication that supports Big L and Caroline.
My thoughts are with her family and friends.
Doc John and I first met Jenni on a steam trip out to the Sea Forts. Within an instant, her sunshine personality broadcast to us the bubbly Radio London Sound, that she held so close to her young heart. Her spirit will never fade in our hearts, and will continue to shine outwardly in the 'New Music Formats' of 'The Radio Revolutions' to come, which she helped to inspire so very much!
We shall never ever forget Jenni.
Bri Roy, Doc John, & Ivy.
Thought you may like
to add this photo to your Jenni tribute page. It was taken just a couple of
weeks after her hip operation last year. Take a look at the angle of the gangplank
and you can tell how dedicated she was to make her way onto the Ross.
Photo: John Sales, Pauline Miller and Peter Herring with Jenni
Jenni was a close friend of my sister, Barbara, until Jenni joined the WRNS and went to train at HMS Dryad (I think). We lost touch with her until recently and I am pleased to say that we swapped e-mails regularly over the last couple of months, flirting outrageously. Jenni never hinted at any illness, the closest she got was admitting to having sore knees after a weekend assembling a kit desk for her computer. She refused my offer to kiss her knees better, saying they were too much like old leather kneeling on the floor sorting out wires and assembling flat-pack furniture!
We also chatted about incidents like the time in the library when she and one of her other friends threw scented notes across the library at a male pupil about two years older, then giggled when I read the notes and blushed.
I was devastated to discover that, after finding Jenni again after all this time, she had been snatched away from me again so soon. However, I was heartened by a snatch of dialogue from a Babylon 5 episode that I watched on video yesterday evening. It went, "It is good to have friends, is it not? Even if only for a little while." It was indeed good to have Jenni as a friend again, even if it was only for a very little while.
I am sure that she will be missed greatly by all the friends she made working with Radio London and cooking on Radio Caroline working parties. She will of course be particularly missed by her family, especially her two girls Teresa and Nicola. My thoughts and prayers are with them.
Dear Mary and Chris,
I still can't believe Jenni has gone and we'll no longer be doing radio or 'girlie' things together. Since meeting her on Walton Pier on 14th August 1997 my life has been so much richer and maybe now is the time to put on record that I always envied those big blue eyes and even white teeth of hers! She was always ready to give time and compassion to anyone who needed it and was a very good listener. A very tactile person, she was great believer in hugging people and was responsible for the astonishment of many of my friends when I suddenly started to hug them in greeting shortly after meeting Jenni; it was her belief that hugging and cuddling made people feel wanted and loved.
I remember well our days helping out on board both the Ocean Defender in 1998 and the Ross Revenge in 1999, the stories of which are detailed elsewhere on this site, her delight at being a part of it all and the silly and mischievous things we led each other into, acting like a couple of giggling schoolgirls at times. Even being on crutches after a hip op last year didn't stop her boarding the Ross at Southend - determination was something else she had plenty of.
Shopping for clothes and accessories with Jenni was quite an experience, both for us and for the shops themselves. She taught me an awful lot and her second opinion when trying on party frocks and the like was invaluable. She would laugh unmercifully at the despair of my other half, Dave (now known as CK), when thinking of those credit card slips.
Such a cheerful and bubbly person, even in the face of adversity she would bounce back and be full of life. I won't forget the confidences we both shared and the WONDERFUL times we had together and I shall miss those silly kneemails the three of us were exchanging right up until a fortnight before her passing - even now I still expect to see one pop up on screen at any minute. I shall be celebrating her life rather than mourning her death, she wouldn't want it any other way.
Keep it smooth sailing, Jenni, I shall miss all that girlie stuff and CK will miss your cooking. Say hello to TW, Kenny Everett, Paul Kaye and Chuck Blair for us.
As many of Jenni's friends now know, not only did she have a wonderful way with words, she had an unbelievable effect on myself.
I still have the first draft of
Jenni's story of becoming part of the Caroline family and there are the corrections
she made on this. This did take some time as I was playing with a white Sooty
bear glove puppet and, no, I am not going to tell you what I was doing with
Sooty but she got her own back on me later on for, as I pulled back the covers
on our bed, I found the Sooty bear now wearing a large pair of industrial gloves!
She was a very unique lady.
Love from Dave Francis
Dear Chris and Mary,
I was so very sorry to be told by Pauline Miller on Sunday the terribly sad news that Jenni had passed away. I really cannot believe that this has happened, I just can't.
I first had the pleasure of meeting Jenni during her stint of running the Radio London Shop on board the Ocean Defender with Pauline. She was a very kind and considerate girl and I was very impressed by her keenness and knowledge of Offshore Radio. I know that she made a very valuable contribution to the Big L broadcast that Christmas and New Year, as, indeed, she made valuable contributions to everything that she became involved in, including her work in the organisation of Radio London Reunions and her efforts on behalf of the Radio Caroline organisation.
Jenni absolutely loved Radio London and was a much treasured and admired member of the "Big L Family".
Knowing as many people as I now do in the World of Offshore Radio, I am quite sure that I speak for everyone in saying that Jenni, child of the sixties like so many of us, has been cruelly taken away from us. We shall all miss her terribly and remember her with affection.
I really cannot manage to put all of my feelings for Jenni into words. Words are not enough.
Love, John Sales
Dear Mary and Chris,
Thanks for letting me know the very sad news about Jenni Baynton which came as a shock to me.
I can't say that I knew Jenni very well but she did pay me a visit last summer with the Ross Revengers (when they bought some stock from me). At that time, she was on crutches getting over an operation and that was what will probably stick in my mind because she was having to hop around all over the place, while we got the bits out of my garage. Having a serious operation is bad enough. Was this connected to her subsequent health problems, I wonder?
She seemed like a very nice person with a pleasant personality and, consequently, it's almost as upsetting to learn of her passing as it would be if it was someone closer to me.
Dear Chris and Mary,
I was deeply shocked to hear about Jenni. To me, she was one of the many supporters who you come to rely on when it's RSL time. I met Jenni for the first time during the summer RSL and was impressed by her interest and knowledge of offshore radio. Then, during our broadcast in London from St. Katharine's Dock, Jenni gave us much help in our shop on the ship. I shall never forget her the day that Ed Stewart came on board and her delight in having her photo taken with him.
I am sure Jenni will be missed by many and I hope we will all treasure our own memories of her. I certainly will.
Dear Mary & Chris,
I was shocked and saddened at the
news of Jenni's passing. To me and I'm sure a lot of people who were lucky enough
to meet her, she came across as very easy going, friendly, and would always
brighten up your day with that lovely smile of hers.
After a period of sadness in her personal life, it was a blessing that the last three years were filled with new friends, happiness, and immense enjoyment through her association with all things offshore. When I had the pleasure of working for Big L in 1998 she would sometimes pop into the studio to say hello and would love it if I played her favourite jingle 'IT'S SMOOTH SAILING WITH THE HIGHLY SUCCESSFUL SOUND OF WONDERFUL RADIO LONDON'. I think it should be re-christened with Jenni in mind. What do you think?
The planned RSL in Clacton will obviously be tinged with sadness at this sudden loss but I'd like to think that Jenni would want all those taking part to enjoy themselves and to raise a glass on the 14th August at 3 o'clock to 'Old Lil' and to her memory.
Jenni has probably already asked TW and Kenny for their autographs!!!
My thoughts are with brother John and Jenni's girls who have had a mother taken from them far too early.
Many thanks for passing on the very sad news. I only knew Jenni via the school website but I soon discovered she was the big sister of John, with whom I spent my junior years at Stanley Road school.
I am returning to England in September to attend the school reunion and I was looking forward to meeting her in person. She was going to bring John along beforehand so we could have our own mini-reunion.
Thanks again for the information and my condolences to you and other of Jenni's friends.