Sad news about Jill Tookey CBE


A message from the trustees

You will be sad to hear that our Founder and Artistic Director, Jill Tookey, passed away on Good Friday after an extraordinarily brave battle against cancer. Her funeral took place on Thursday 7th April at St. Mary’s Church in Westerham and was attended by family, friends, patrons, trustees and many of the NYB family past and present. The ceremony was accompanied by some of Jill’s most-loved music, including some NYB favourites – the Pas de Deux from John Lanchbery’s TOAD, excerpts from Paul Reade’s Cinderella and a beautiful and moving live performance of Dark Lochnagar from NYB’s The Old Man of Lochnagar, choreographed by Nigel Hess, sung by Wendy Nieper and accompanied, on the harp, by Jane Lister. If you wish to make a donation, the family would appreciate a donation to research into the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer via

Over the past thirty years Jill has been a wonderful inspiration to generations of young dancers and choreographers, many of whom have embarked upon successful professional careers. Her vision, to involve young people in the planning, staging and execution of ballet and musical theatre, was unique. The standards achieved by the National Youth Ballet were so high, thanks to her meticulous attention to detail, and her distinctive artistic flair. Many a production was enhanced by her beautiful set and costume designs to spectacular effect.

She worked tirelessly over the years to build a loyal team of professionals and volunteers around her so that the NYB’s season was like a family homecoming; so many return year after year. The support Jill has enjoyed resulted from her demands for high standards, passion for excellence but most of all for her constant sense of fun. She has kept up with many of the alumni, hugely enjoying their achievements over many years, and in turn they have supported the development of the Beyond Ballet programme.

Over recent years Jill has been thinking about her succession to ensure that her dream for the NYB continues. The trustees are working hard to ensure that the NYB will live on and flourish in the future.

Mikah Smillie – Artistic Director in Residence for 2016