True gent Sir Jimmy was 'a real friend'By Laura Herbert
November 10, 2011
A Crowthorne man who counts himself as one of Sir Jimmy Savile’s closest friends has revealed his memories of the eccentric marathon-running DJ and presenter.
Don Bennett from Napier Road was the man tasked with driving Sir Jimmy around in his various extravagant cars.
The pair met when Mr Bennett was a transport manager at Broadmoor Hospital, of which Mr Savile was a keen supporter, and became lifelong friends.
Mr Bennett, 79, knew Sir Jimmy, who died last week at the age of 84, for 44 years and joined him in many of his hundreds of charity fundraisers.
He described him as a “true gentleman” who was not like his TV persona. He said: “I drove his famous Gold Rolls Royce – in fact, we had 12 Rolls Royces in total. That wasn’t just it, we had Bentleys, Lamborginis, you name it. It was a bit of a disappointment getting back in your own car at the end of the day when Jim was around.” He said Sir Jimmy was a very caring individual who went out of his way to ensure his friends were never left out.
He said: “Jim was tremendous at making sure everyone was involved. I remember we went to Windsor Castle once to meet Prince Charles. He insisted I came in and met him too.
“He was very different when it was just you and him – he was actually quite quiet and thoughtful. But he was in his TV persona most of the time. He wasn’t all razzmatazz.”
Don both walked and cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats with the famously exercise-mad star – but stayed well away from his other ventures.
He said: “He was a wrestler for a while, I think he got hurt quite a lot doing that. And he did so many marathons.
“He always smoked cigars, but I don't think he inhaled much – he was very fit. He was just really likeable, and always had time for you.” Don, who worked at the hospital for 43 years, is still driving and travelled up to Scarborough in Yorkshire for his friend’s funeral.
Sir Jimmy was buried in a gold-coloured, steel plated coffin.
Showing his commitment to charity to the last, he was laid to rest wearing a Help for Heroes wristband.