The stunning picture you see below, is Founder and Artistic Director of NYB, Jill Tookey, who sadly passed away on Good Friday 2016.
Her funeral took place on Thursday 7th April at St. Mary’s Church in Westerham and was a beautiful and poignant event. 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.
6 male NYB alumni made up the pallbearers, whilst alumnus and choreographer Drew McOnie gave a moving eulogy about Jill and her incredible influence on the lives of so many dancers’ over the past 30 years. Amongst the moments of sadness were also moments of joy as the congregation fondly remembered stories of Jill’s fun and eccentric dancing parties, her infectious enthusiasm, her meticulous eye for detail and her love of fancy dress!
The funeral was well attended by family, friends, patrons, trustees and many of the NYB family past and present, including choreographers, back stage staff, chaperones, wardrobe staff, costume and mask design, alumni, parents, dance teachers and dancers – all the different people that make NYB the huge success that it is.
We wish to share with you Jill’s obituary published in The Times earlier in the week, describing a Director who ‘helped generations of dancers into stage careers‘:
No other individual in the history of dance in this country has done more for young people, hopeful of careers in dance and musical theatre, than Jill Tookey.
(David Bintley, Director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet)
Jill encouraged individuals to fly. To be themselves in the most powerful way possible; with pride. Thank you Jill for that lesson.
(Jessica Allen, NYB Alumnus)
Click to read tributes to Jill in the Sevenoaks Chronicle
If you wish to make a donation, the family would appreciate a donation to research into the early diagnosis of pancreatic cancer via justgiving.com/jilltookey.