Popular Radio Ulster presenter Kim Lenaghan has been remembered as a “truly gifted broadcaster” who had a special bond with listeners.
ributes have flooded in following the death of the BBC personality, who was 61.
Ms Lenaghan had worked with BBC Northern Ireland for 25 years, presenting music and conversation programmes each weekend as well as the BBC Radio Ulster series The Foodie.
She lived in Belfast with her husband, Andrew Jones, and their dogs.
Richard Yarr, a close friend and colleague, said: “Kim was the very first person I met at the BBC and we have been inseparable friends ever since. She took such pride in her work and the relationship that she had with her listeners. They meant the world to her. I will miss Kim’s laughter, her sense of fun and the joy she brought to my life and to that of so many people.”
Other well-known BBC names spoke of their shock and sadness.
Presenter Linda McAuley said: “This was a dreadful shock. Kim was a very professional broadcaster, a very good friend, and a wonderful cook.
“Her music brought pleasure to thousands of people and her voice will be very much missed over the airwaves. My condolences to Andrew and the rest of her family.”
Sunday Club presenter John Bennett said: “Anyone can sit in front of a microphone and talk. It doesn’t make them broadcasters. Kim loved and believed in what she did – her listeners recognised this and loved her for it. She created a special bond.
“Sadly I won’t get to taste that bowl of her special soup she promised me last week. My thoughts are with Andrew and her family.”
BBC reporter Mark Simpson said it was “devastating news”.
“Kim was a ray of sunshine. On air, off air and in the corridors of the BBC. She brightened all our lives. We’re going to miss her,” he added.
BBC NI Health Correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly said there was “such sadness” at the news.
“Those who worked and knew her have lost a good friend,” she said.
“Such a kind, generous and gorgeous woman with an infectious laugh. Dearest Kim there are no words.”
BBC presenter Tara Mills said she was “shocked and very sad”.
“It’s hard to believe we will never again hear her infectious laugh or see her beaming smile in Broadcasting House. Condolences to her family.”
Barra Best, the BBC TV and weather presenter, said: “So sorry to hear that Kim Lenaghan has died. She always gave me a good laugh when we worked together.
“That curry recipe she gave me will be followed this evening. RIP, Kim.”
UTV Live presenter Paul Clark added: “I was with Kim last Tuesday at the launch of Belfast Restaurant Week I told her I thought her finest hour in broadcasting was BBC Radio Ulster when Prince Philip died. She provided the soundtrack to my life that evening.”
Broadcaster Ralph McClean said he was “shocked and deeply saddened “ at the news.
“She was a dear friend, a much-loved colleague and a truly gifted broadcaster.
“So many good memories and laughs over so many years. Desperately sad news. Thoughts are with Andrew and family.”
Presenter Vinny Hurrell tweeted: “RIP Kim. Always a kind word and a sharp wit. Thoughts with your friends and family.”
Justice Minister Naomi Long tweeted: “Shock and saddened at the sudden death of Kim Lenaghan.
“As distant ‘cousins’ I left every chat we shared smiling.
“Her zest for life, natural curiosity, warmth and humour made her both a wonderful broadcaster and human being.”
The presenter started working with BBC Northern Ireland in 1997, working on newspaper reviews on BBC Radio Ulster’s Good Morning Ulster programme, before becoming a news reporter for the station working across Good Morning Ulster, Talkback and Evening Extra.
Ms Lenaghan worked with BBC Radio Ulster’s arts and culture programme Arts Extra since it began and also presented the Sunday morning programme This New Day for more than 12 years.
Prior to her career in broadcasting, Kim studied English at Queen’s University Belfast and worked for the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in Northern Ireland and New York and as a PR Manager for the Abbey Theatre, Dublin.
She later worked with RTE as a panellist on a series of programmes before moving to Downtown Radio.
For the last number of years Kim also presented the live Christmas Day morning show on BBC Radio Ulster – Kim’s Twinkly Christmas.
Ms Lenaghan cited two of her career highlights as interviewing cinema legends Richard Attenborough and late British cinematographer Jack Cardiff.
She was a keen cook and enjoyed nothing more than a good culinary challenge and also enjoyed gardening and jazz singing, having performed in London and New York.
Adam Smyth, the interim director of BBC Northern Ireland, said: “We are shocked and saddened by the sudden death of our friend and colleague Kim Lenaghan. Kim was a versatile and talented broadcaster who welcomed listeners into Saturdays and Sundays with her warm tones, sense of humour and impeccable music taste.
“Our deepest sympathies and condolences go out to her husband Andrew, her family and many friends.”
Emma Dunseith, head of content production at BBC Northern Ireland, said: “Our thoughts at this time go to Kim’s husband, her family, friends and colleagues. This is a sad day for everyone at BBC Northern Ireland and, of course, for Kim’s loyal listeners.
“Kim was a such an important part of the Radio Ulster family. Her voice was instantly recognisable and her programmes provided much valued companionship to our listeners. She will be deeply missed.”