George Alagiah’s moving words read at his memorial service as BBC co-stars gather

Friends, family and former colleagues of beloved newsreader George Alagiah gathered in London today for a touching memorial service for him.

The BBC presenter sadly passed away in July at the age of 67, following a nine-year battle with bowel cancer, and his memorial service today included a heartfelt speech that George had penned himself before his passing.

George was one of the BBC's most recognised journalists, presenting the BBC News at Six for twenty years. He also had an extensive career as a foreign correspondent.

Attendees at the Tuesday, November 7 memorial heard reflections on his illustrious career, and The BBC News at One concluded with a clip from the service, featuring a speech dictated by Alagiah to his wife Frances Robathan for his memorial.

His colleague and close friend Sophie Raworth read it out to the congregation, as she said: "We end the programme today with George in his own words," before she continued in those words: "If you haven't already told the people you love, that you love them, tell them. If you haven't already told them how vulnerable you sometimes feel, tell them.

"If you want to tell them that you would like to be with them until the front hall stairs feel like Everest, tell them. You never know what is coming around the corner. And if, lucky you, there is nothing around the corner, then at least you got your defence in first."

The BBC reported that the congregation also heard stories from Alagiah’s sons – Adam Alagiah-Glomseth and Matthew Alagiah – who read passages from their father’s books.

Elsewhere, his sisters – Mari Martin, Rachel Stojan, Chris Dennington and Jenny Johnson – spoke of the profound impact of migration on their childhoods.

George was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2014, for which he underwent 17 rounds of chemotherapy before returning to our screens.

He took breaks for further treatment as the cancer spread but always targeted a return to the newsroom.

George stepped away from broadcasting duties for the final time last October, saying that working in the BBC newsroom had "been such an important part of keeping energised and motivated".

He told the Guardian in a 2020 interview: "On being diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in 2014, I constructed a pros and cons list of how my life had gone so far. The things that had gone well far outweighed the others, which brought me to a place of total contentment."

"When you're closer to your last day, you live each one with an intensity you couldn't have previously imagined. Of course I wish I never had this disease, but I'm not sure I'd give these six years back. With friends, family and colleagues I've shared experiences and thoughts that we otherwise wouldn't have had."

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