VETERAN DJ and broadcaster Jimmy Savile, who has died at the age of 84, has been mourned by people in North Yorkshire whose lives he touched.

The Yorkshireman, who presented the first-ever episode of Top Of The Pops as well as his long-running show Jim’ll Fix It and raised tens of millions of pounds for charity, was found at his home in Leeds on Saturday, just two days before his 85th birthday.

Known for his catchphrases, cigars, tracksuits and tinted glasses, the larger-than-life star had been suffering from a suspected bout of pneumonia and had a spell in hospital earlier this month, with tributes having poured in from the world of showbusiness and charity following the news of his death.

Sir Jimmy spent time at Crayke Castle, near York – which he was later reported to be interested in buying – after the Second World War as part the Lend A Hand On The Land scheme and retained his fondness for the area over the years.

Local resident Rita Wood said: “Many years ago, he walked into the local pub and said he wanted to come to our gala, but didn’t want anybody to know, which was typical of him. I was vice-chair of the gala at the time, so I was put in charge of it. He turned up that year and then got in touch the following year to say he would like to come again and we could let people know this time! He also donated a beautiful oak seat outside the village church, dedicated to a man he was in Crayke with after the war.

“He was such a bundle of fun and so keen on helping people and talking to them. Once you met him, you never forgot him because he was such a character, yet so down-to-earth, and everything you would expect. His death is awful news and such a sad loss both for those who knew him and those who did not.”

Sir Jimmy’s close friend Saleem Akhtar, who owns the Jinnah restaurant group, welcomed Sir Jimmy to the opening of his restaurant in Cumberland Street, York, earlier this year and said: “I had known him for about 12 years because he lived opposite my restaurant in Roundhay, in Leeds, and I was gobsmacked when such a big name walked in.

“From there, we became good friends. He loved his chicken tikka and he would stay and chat for hours, and from then on, whenever we opened a restaurant, he would come along and entertain people. He rang me to say he was going into hospital, and when I went to see him he said he was fighting fit and would soon be back to normal. I spoke to him a week before his death and he was still saying he wanted to open our new restaurant in Wakefield. I was planning to see him this week, so I am absolutely shocked by his death.

“He was a fantastic person – a true Yorkshireman and a true gentleman. He would never take any money for opening our restaurants and would tell us to give whatever we would have paid him to somebody who needed it. I cannot believe he has gone, and myself and my family will remember him for the rest of our lives.”